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Improvements to the Nominate payment option

by on July 24, 2019

Update: this enhancement is now live. View our guidance note

Since its implementation in September last year, the Financial Transaction Service (FTS) has changed the way payments are made for planning applications; streamlining the process for Local Planning Authorities (LPAs), agents and applicants alike.

One of the biggest changes has been the Nominate payment option (previously known as Payment ReDirect), which accounts for over 42 per cent of payments received via our payment system.

What is Nominate?

Nominate gives the option for agents to nominate a third party, for example a client or applicant, to pay for an application. The system reduces the time taken contacting clients with payment requests, chasing payments, sending reminders and receiving receipts. The delays to the payment process result in the tying up of agent’s cash flow and an increase in accountancy and reconciliation work, these are issues which Nominate helps to eradicate. Currently it is possible to nominate your clients to pay online (by credit or debit card) up to a £1,000 limit.

Over the last ten months we’ve received a great deal of feedback about the Nominate service, both its benefits and its current limitations. After listening to this feedback and gaining insight into the processes of our users we are making some changes and improvements that will deliver even more efficiencies for our users of the service.

What are the improvements?

The nominee will be able to choose to pay by all payment methods; online, telephone, bank transfer (BACS, faster payment, CHAPS) and cheque. The expansion of payment options means that nominees will now be able to pay for application fees in the same ways as direct payers.

Nominees will also be able to change their selected payment method after choosing, if they wish.

This will greatly improve the user experience for both agents and applicants, as agents will no longer have to copy and paste payment details into an email to for the applicant to pay. This will all be managed and delivered within the new Nominate process.

Another improvement is that agents will be able to use the Nominate function to request payment internally within their organisation, meaning payment requests can be sent directly to finance departments to pay an application, great for larger companies with multiple offices. It could be as part of their weekly payment run or daily process and will give a clear audit trail and reconciliation of payments.

The feedback we received was not only about improving the options and function of the service but also the information on the payment screens, notification emails and improving the process.

Notification emails will now include details of who the Planning Portal are, ensuring a transparent explanation so all parties are completely aware of our involvement in the process, clearing up potential confusion between our role and that of the Local Authorities.

Nominee and nominator names will be clearly displayed and editable on the Nominate screen, along with the ability to add notes to an optional section, creating relevant context for the nominee about the application and the payment request. This increased clarity about the source of the request should help to simplify nominated payments, whilst also creating greater uses for the service.

Improved automated communication between nominators and nominees will be introduced, including a payment ‘Accepted’ option which will automatically send a notification to the nominator, as well as an alert when the payment has been completed.

In addition, increased rejection options for nominees will allow the nominator to better understand the reason behind why the nomination has been returned to them.

Finally, nominees will receive reminder notifications based on their preferred payment method, prompting them to accept the nomination and make a prompt payment.

When will these improvements be available? 

These improvements are scheduled to be implemented in early August, bringing about a far easier and more streamlined service which will benefit all parties involved. We thank everyone who has offered their feedback and please continue to do this as your contributions have helped us to improve our services as we strive to transform planning and building for all.

These new improvements have been delivered through the Planning Portal Financial Transaction Service charge as we continue investing to advance our services and resources for our applicants.

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