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Planning Portal responds to the draft Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill

by on May 19, 2022

Planning Portal have been eagerly awaiting government’s plans regarding the future of planning legislation, having responded to the initial ‘Future of Planning’ Whitepaper published in 2020. Now that we’ve had a chance to review and digest the new Bill, we delighted to see expansion of several important areas for digital planning.

We welcome the ambition from government to take more control over planning data standards and the processes driven by such data.

We believe that nationalising much of the common development management policy across the country will facilitate a consistent interpretation, and application, of such rules and guidance.

Through standardisation of the way development plans are provided and published, we will be able to develop far more ‘personalised’ experience for specific sites and developments being proposed which will bring greater user benefits to our customers.

We believe this will provide applicants and interested parties’ further clarity in determining the viability and suitability of proposals and responses. This will in turn ensure that the development management process is front loaded with the information needed for it to be carried out efficiently, and in a fair, transparent and trustworthy manner.

Such moves were called for in our ‘Planning for the Future’ consultation response to allow national validation standards for planning application data and move towards ‘rules as code’ to provide clarity on the interpretation and utilisation of policy and legislation. We look forward to our services being able to deliver benefits to our users based on these changes.

The ability to amend a permission, or the conditions attached to it, will also be welcomed, as this has the potential to realise efficiencies on both sides of the transaction. We are working towards streamlining the post-submission processes for users in terms of validation issues, amendments, and post-decision actions.

It has been suggested that the cost to local authorities of administering England’s planning system is an estimated £1 billion. Off the back of this insight, the government proposed, after a period of consultation, that significant increases in fees for minor and major applications, at 25% and 35% respectively. We fully appreciate the pressure that Local Authority planning departments are under and welcome the additional funding.

However, there has recently been a decline in the number of people entering the planning sector, creating a resource vacuum across both the public and private sectors. We believe it is important for a longer-term strategy surrounding the use of this increased funding available to Local Planning Authorities be implemented to ensure enough consideration is given to recruitment and retaining staff.

A further consideration is that an increase in fees is likely to increase users’ performance expectations. Applicants and agents will continue to expect value for money in the processing and determination of their applications and will likely see the increases as positive, as long as it brings improvements to the process.

In summary, having long led the way in digital planning and data standards, we fully understand the benefits of driving improvements to the process in this manner. We welcome any action by government to provide better standards and consistent methods to collect, provide, validate, and utilise information in planning applications.

We also recognise that different organisations move at different paces, and we will provide business continuity to those still working to adopt the new rules and standards as well as pushing forward greater digitisation and benefits for the planning process as a whole. If there is an area mentioned above that you would like to discuss in further detail, please leave a message in the comments and one of the team will be in touch.

  1. Roger Coy permalink

    Considering the planning system seems utterly broken at the moment, surely the Government should address this issue first, adding any burden or changes just seems to make worse an already overburdened under resourced department that just isnt delivering the service that applicants often pay not inconsiderable sums in application fees, it would appear to be in severe crisis, and is impacting negatively upon our economy to the concern of all of us who depend upon a planning system to respond in a timely manner!

  2. Terence Blyth permalink

    Will in principle i agree with Roger Coy, i can see a need for more consistently but it is very difficult or impossible to create a one size fits all, as each area has differing needs and priority’s with different planners making different interpretations of the same guidance much as is the case with the law until it go’s to court and is tested which is very expensive.

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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