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2021: a round-up

by on January 27, 2022

We would like to start by wishing a belated Happy New Year to all Planning Portal customers and partners. 2022 is already shaping up to be an amazing year for us here at Planning Portal: within the next week, we will have launched the new Planning Portal website. This project has been a full team effort in conjunction with our parent company TerraQuest, based in Birmingham, who have built the new service. The new site will put in place the foundations for us to add new features and improved functionality, to continue to improve the service and to help us achieve our vision to cater for the entire planning process – from pre-application to building completion notices – all delivered on a redesigned, spatial platform.  

Looking back over 2021, we saw another unprecedented year in terms of the number of planning application submissions. The planning market soared, with increased homeowner applications taking submission numbers to new levels. Throughout 2021, the Planning Portal processed over 720,000 planning applications: an increase of over 100,000 on the previous year. For the first half of 2021, we saw record breaking numbers of submissions, peaking in March 2021 with 77,289 applications in a single month. These high rates did reduce towards the end of the year, falling below the numbers we saw during the same months in 2020. It is important to remember though, that 2020’s figures from June onwards were extremely high compared to the last five years and still way above the normal trend. You can read more about application patterns in our monthly free Planning Market Insight Report by registering here. We are yet to see how the submission trends will play out across 2022: with new hybrid working becoming the norm, it may mean continued high numbers of householder applications to achieve an improved work life balance, or the numbers could return to the more predictable levels of 2019.  

Our first major event of 2022 will be our Spring Conference in April. Following on from the success of the previous three years, we will be hosting our four-day, virtual event over on the new Planning Portal Community Hub. Business leaders and influencers from across planning and building will discuss the most significant topics affecting the industry, including the Building Safety Programme, Urban Regeneration for Towns and Cities, Retrofit for Net Zero, and The Future of Planning’s focus on the digital transformation of local plans. We will soon open our call for speakers. If you feel you have contributions which align with these topics, please drop us an email at conference@planningportal.co.uk.  

We launched our new Community Hub in the summer of 2021. The Hub is the new interactive, industry-specific networking and exhibition platform from the Planning Portal. The platform has been used to host our annual conferences, a range of webinars (including our current ‘Digital Future of Planning and Building’ series), the latest news and ways to contact industry leaders. We have more big plans for this platform throughout 2022, so ensure you have registered for an account to keep up to date on all the news.  

While the government response to the Planning White Paper consultation has not yet been published, there were a few changes to planning legislation during 2021. Much like proverbial London buses, several key legislative changes from Whitehall came into effect on 1 August 2021. There were use class updates that affected ‘Prior Approval’ applications meaning we had to make some of the application types redundant, while others were superseded by alternative types of Prior Approvals with different conditions and limitations. New permitted development rights allowed for Commercial/Business and Service uses to be changed to Dwellinghouses. There are specific conditions and limitations on this new right, including the need to make a ‘Prior Approval’ application.

As part of ongoing changes to the fire safety regulations, certain types of proposed development now require a ‘Fire statement’ to be completed by an expert and submitted as part of the application for planning permission.

More information on these changes and others that came into effect throughout 2021 can be found on our blog here

We are very excited by the launch of the new website and planning application service, and the coming year. We look forward to bringing you new and improved technology to continue to meet the needs of our customers and Local Authority delivery partners. There will be plenty more on that in the coming months, but in the meantime thank you to you all for your continued support.  

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