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Planning and building control – Product and service development in 2017

by on December 19, 2017

Well, we thought 2016 was a busy year but 2017 has proved to be even more so. New products and services to market, established services refined and enhanced, content hubs launched… here’s a rundown of the year that was at the Planning Portal.

Planning and building control – application figures

Planning application figures continue to rise with 536,749 recorded between January 2017 and Nov 2017. For the same period last year the number was 500,065; which is a 7.3 per cent increase. For the whole of 2016 a staggering 539,675 applications were submitted, a figure we have almost reached already and still with a month to spare.

Since the launch of our building control application service, we now have two-thirds of local authority building control departments (LABCs) supporting the service and several Approved Inspectors. The former is a figure unrivalled by other online building control services. At the time of writing 17327 building control applications have been submitted since the service went live in October 2016.

Find your LABC team or access our Approved Inspectors Directory.

Payment Redirect service

On the 2nd October we launched a Payment Redirect service that allows clients to easily and securely pay for applications submitted by their agents. We developed the service  following feedback from agents who don’t want to pay directly because of concerns about VAT and cash flow, and because of delays caused by missing payments (one of the biggest causes of invalid applications). The service is simple and quick to use and sits alongside existing payment mechanisms accepted by local authorities (LPAs). We are delighted to already have 53 LPAs signed up to the service and are in discussions with the remaining authorities with a view to getting all on board.

Read our blog detailing how it works and which LPAs have signed up so far.

New content hubs for professionals and homeowners

Alongside and to support our planning and building application services, the primary objectives of our website are to provide concise, accurate, authoritative guidance for our varied audiences. So, following on from the success of the new mobile-responsive site in March 2016, we continue to develop and diversify our content for both professionals and homeowners.

Back in June we unveiled our new content hubs for these two audiences, segmenting the existing do you need permission webpage into home improvement projects and commercial or residential projects. Within this we focussed on the key project phases, addressing any pain-points, helping our readers every step of the way.

Building on this, we launched the dedicated Professional Portal hub in November, which features the following:

  • Up-to-date guidance on legislation, CIL, permitted development, use classes and much more
  • Volume and fee calculators
  • Approved Documents
  • Announcements about new products and services from Planning Portal
  • Directory links for industry bodies, trade professionals, job vacancies
  • Information on accredited tools to create compliant maps for planning and building control applications
  • Help centre
  • Industry news and comment.

Delivering compliant maps with ReQuestaPlan

March saw the launch of ReQuestaPlan, our digital mapping tool, which sits as part of a suite of map products in our Buy A Plan service. Developed in partnership with our parent company, TerraQuest, this handy tool delivers compliant, low cost maps for planning and building control applications in minutes. Starting at only £8 plus VAT, we are proud to say this is the lowest price on the market.

We knew that applicants needed a tool that was reliable, compliant, simple to use and supported different payment options – and that’s what we delivered. We’re looking forward to launching new features in 2018 as well as a new look website which caters both for the general public and professionals.

Watch this space for our next blog – looking at the year ahead in planning and building control.

Wishing you all a relaxing and peaceful festive season and a prosperous 2018.

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