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New payment service for 1App in England

by on August 1, 2018

Since we were privatised in 2015, we have continued to develop our services, including significant investment in a new 1App service, a new building control application service and new interactive houses, as well as of course keeping everything compliant with legislation as it changes. All of this costs money to develop and maintain.

As we are no longer funded by the government, we have sought to generate income by launching services which add value to the process for all our customers, be that agents, applicants or local authorities. These services are gaining traction and income is rising, but we are still working to balance our books and continue to rely on the financial support of our parent company, which can’t last forever.

The latest new service, due for launch in September is the most transformative that we have launched to date, and in line with all the others we have worked hard to ensure that it will add value to all our customers. Critically, it will also bring us much needed income to balance our books and ensure that we can improve 1App in the way we have all wanted to for many years, as well as maintaining all our other services, free content and interactive guidance.

The issue of validation and payments

Today, approximately half of online planning applications are still paid for ‘offline’; meaning that the local authority has to find the planning fee separately and reconcile it with the application as part of the validation process. Across England, missing payments alone account for a quarter of invalid applications, often as a result of cheques being mislaid.

The Planning Portal’s new financial transaction service will resolve this issue and remove the pain from agents, applicants and local authorities. By processing all planning application fee payments itself, the Planning Portal will be able to release the application with the correct fee to the local authority, saving everyone the time and money currently wasted on making, chasing and reconciling offline payments. The concept of the new process has been thoroughly tested over the last few months with agents and local planning authorities (LPA).  We’re now in the midst of testing the end-to-end process and technology to ensure that the launch is as seamless as possible for all involved. Once we are confident we are in good shape, we will communicate the launch date.

The service in a nutshell

The service will:

  • Offer a standard range of options which either the applicant or the agent can use to pay for planning applications across all English authorities
  • Provide telephone or online payment options which are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year as well as bank transfer options for larger fees. We have maintained an option to pay by cheque, but with other quicker, better options available we expect the number of cheques to drop drastically
  • As soon as the payment is received, the application and fee will be transferred to the LPA so they can start validation.

The service charge of £16.67+VAT per application will also include the option of using the current Payment ReDirect service which allows agents to nominate a third party to pay securely for applications, at no additional cost.

Applications which don’t attract a planning fee will not use the financial transaction service and will be released immediately to local planning authorities in the usual way.

Further Information

We have created User Guides for both agents and LPAs. If you are a regular Planning Portal user you should have already received a copy, but you can access both here:

These guides should give you all the information you need to understand the service and any changes to your business processes, but should you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact our Support team.

We appreciate that this is a change for everyone, but feedback indicates that this will be a huge step forward for the planning application submission process. These changes will also enable us to balance our books and invest in the future development of 1App and the other services.

We hope that you will continue to support us and the service we provide.

  1. Roger Stephens permalink

    Surely the levy of such a charge will, itself, discourage agents / domestic applicants to use this online fee payment service. Agents will have to pass the charge on to their clients and domestic applicants will not wish to pay for the privilege of using this online service. Hence, will it not ‘shoot itself in the foot’?

  2. Whilst the system may make life easier for the Planning Portal and for LPAs (though I forsee limited benefit for the latter), there would be little/no benefit to the applicant or agent, and so I do not see how applicants and/or agents would be willing to pay the additional £20.
    Many agents/applicants were disgruntled when the Planning Fees rose last October and so I doubt that an additional cost would be welcomed.

  3. John Flavell permalink

    I completely agree with Roger and James who have set out the issues. My clients have no problem at all with paying by telephone, so why would they want to pay more?

  4. Peter Davis permalink

    Another £ 20 on top of a householder fee that went up 20% last December.

    Double handling of the payment. They can go wrong on occasion with single handling.

    I like to pay by cheque on behalf of my clients. It ensures it gets paid quickly, I don’t start getting comms from the LPA saying my clients have not paid and I like the paper trail on the odd occasion things do go wrong. Now cheque clearance which should take 3-4 days will apparently take 8-9 days.

    The transaction is between the LPA and the applicant and the payment should go the same way without a third party involved and charging for it as well.

    I have just had a call from an LPA I deal with on a regular basis about a payment they lost, as it happens, and they don’t this idea at all. In fact they have given me the name of a rival opperation that I have already created an accout with and will give a go.

    The goverment has recently put a stop to charges on credit card transactions, this is just a variation on that ruse to get money from the customer. My cients wont want to be charged to pay!

  5. Shaun Richards permalink

    I think we all appreciate that some form of monetisation was going to occur with the move to private, but this is not an attractive proposition for agents.

    The portal is a useful service, and the alternative site is frankly a shambles. But I don’t relish the extra £20 per application considering we submit thousands a year. That’s a big chunk of cash you are asking for!

    A subscription model with upfront annual costs would be much more preferable. i don’t think it’s prudent to kid ourselves that continued use of the portal should be free – after all there are costs to cover. But there are certainly better ways of going about this.

  6. IAN C SAVAGAR permalink

    Well I suppose it was bound to happen, sneaky attaching the cost to the fee handling rather than the application. The authority will still have to check the fee to ensure that the correct fee and type of application have been submitted, (prior approval rules, floor area etc) which presumably will not be validated by the portal so I cannot see that there is that much benefit to the L,.A.
    Incidentally by my reckoning there have been approximately 850,000 applications submitted during the last 12 months which would have generate in excess of £12,000,000 (assuming a few zero fee applications) nice!

Please give us your feedback but we won’t publish any comments that are not constructive or that criticise any individual, any named business or any local authority. Please note, all comments will be moderated before being published.

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