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Planning Portal process over £135 million in planning application fees, using new payment service

by on March 13, 2019

It’s been six months since our financial transaction service was launched and in that time we’ve processed over £135 million in planning application fees on behalf of local planning authorities – quickly reconciling and releasing applications with the associated fees to local authorities, so they can start the validation process.

This mammoth figure puts all of our hard work and all of the obstacles we overcame to get here into perspective. It demonstrates why it was so important for us not only to get the technology right, but also to master the processes behind the scenes.  Since we announced the launch of the service, we have worked closely with local authorities and submitters to further develop the process and make sure that everyone is benefiting from the improvements to the system.

Since the six-month anniversary of the new service has just passed, it is the perfect time for us to say thank you to the huge number of people who continue to support and rely on our service every day.  Together we ensure that our service is working well and that we are changing the planning application process in England for the better.

As we mentioned in a previous blog post, we’ve managed to shift users away from cumbersome and unreliable cheque payments. Before we launched our new payment service, we spoke to ­local authorities and agents to discover that missing payments were the biggest cause of invalid applications across the country. Very often, these missing payment issues were related to cheque payments. In radically reducing the number of cheque payments for planning applications, we have helped to bring down the number of invalid applications nationally.

Another situation that was commonly slowing down the planning application process was when larger fee payments by BACS were paid into corporate authority accounts and not linked to applications until chased by agents. This meant long validation delays, in some cases of many weeks, as the payments were not married up quickly and efficiently. By processing payments for all applications ourselves and handing both the payment and the application over to local authorities at the same time, we have eradicated this issue.

We’re extremely proud of how our service is improving the planning system. However, reducing the number of invalid planning applications in England remains one of our biggest goals. We want our system to work in a way that makes invalid applications as unlikely as possible. To achieve this, we need to know what’s going on when applications are invalidated, and that means collecting data.

Please spare some time to complete our invalidation survey, if you haven’t already:

Access the survey for local authorities

Access survey for planning professionals

The data collected will allow us to make informed decisions on the issues which need tackling most urgently. We can then pinpoint areas of our own system to update, in order to help reduce invalidation as much as possible.

We do have a number of system improvements already planned. These include enhancements to the nomination service, which we now offer as a standardised payment option for every application where the fee is less than £1,000. We will share details of these updates in the coming weeks.

If you would like to share any thoughts with us on our payment service, or have any comments on how the updates have affected your working practices, please get in touch at communications@planningportal.co.uk.

6 Comments
  1. Sam Hassan permalink

    It is too much

  2. Personally, I think integrating payments in Planning Portal is a real time saver for agents. Being able to nominate the applicant for payment through just entering their email is the way it should be in 2019.

  3. Andrew Dunks permalink

    Given that the planning portal now charges an online submission fee which is about 10% on top for the majority of applications, that equates to about £13 million per year for running a pretty mediocre website. Very nice!

    • sarahchilcott permalink

      Hi Andrew. The service charge is a fixed amount which covers an awful lot of costs (incl bank charges of around 2% for example) and generates nothing like this much income. The money being generated is already being used to improve the service – though I wouldn’t call it mediocre – and there is more to come. Sarah

      • Andy Dunks permalink

        Hmmmmm. If the bank is charging you 2% which roughly equates to £1.3 million then I think you need to find a new bank! It’s definitely mediocre at present, such as having to upload files individually but waiting for each one to finish because the screen bounces up and down as each file uploads which means you can’t choose the next file type from the drop down list etc etc . . . Look forward to some improvements though 👍

      • sarahchilcott permalink

        Credit card fees alone are around this amount Andy. Some are much higher unfortunately! Sarah

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