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Sarah Chilcott, MD at Planning Portal, discusses the future of Approved Documents in an increasingly digital landscape

Sarah Chilcott Planning Portal MDFollowing the recent review by the Department for Communities and Local Government, we were asked by PBC Today for our views on the future of Approved Documents. We have republished the interview below.

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Planning Portal report a 15.6% increase in planning applications

planning application increaseAs we celebrate a year since our website relaunch, we are happy to report a 15.6% increase in planning applications from March 2016 to 2017. That’s 55,535 successfully processed applications in one calendar month!

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New developments in the planning application process

Last weekend saw the latest development release to our planning application service. Responding to feedback from regular agents, we have restored the function to amend a ‘submitted’ status application which was disabled when we launched the new website last March. The main reason we chose to remove this function was because LPAs did not receive notification of application amendments that had not yet been downloaded by them. This meant LPAs were unable to locate proposals they had received notifications for, causing confusion with the successful receipt of applications.

To rectify this, we have added a new email notification that will be sent to LPAs if an applicant chooses to amend an application with a ‘submitted’ status.

Amended notification process for ‘Submitted’ planning applications

  • When an applicant selects the ‘amend’ button on applications with a ‘submitted’ status, the current version of the proposal is auto-archived and a new draft version created. This will remove the application from the LPA’s list of available proposals so they do not have the option to download it, until such time the applicant re-submits.
  • The LPA receives an email confirming the application has been withheld, with the applicant’s contact details.
  • The applicant can make amendments and re-submit at their convenience, and the LPA receives email notification of submission in the normal way.

In addition to the ‘amend’ button, applicants will also see a ‘withhold’ button. Selecting this option will auto-archive the current version of the proposal, but will not create a new draft version. Similarly this will remove the application from the LPA’s available proposals and notify them of the withholding.

If the applicant decides to re-submit they can retrieve from their archive list and select the option to “amend and re-submit”.

New draft amendment function added

We have also added a new function that allows applicants to delete a draft amendment application which re-enables amendments to the original application. This is particularly useful if the incorrect amendment option was selected and there was no facility to change it, or when an application has been mistakenly deleted.

As always, we welcome any feedback on our products and services. To submit your feedback, or for any media enquiries please contact If you have any support queries please contact

Planning news – 23 March 2017

Read the full story by clicking on the headline.

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords approve final amendments and pass the bill
The Neighbourhood Planning Bill has undergone its third reading in the House of Lords, with members approving an amendment that requires examiners to give information to, and hold meetings with, neighbourhood planning groups.
Laura Edgar, The Planner

SMEs and local authorities receive cash injection to update planning system
Nine small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and local authorities have been awarded a share of £200,000 aimed at supporting the development of new tools and innovations to transform the planning system.
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Guidance for housing and NSIPs published
The government has published guidance confirming the details of measures that will see major infrastructure projects that include up to 500 homes considered as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Devolution for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has announced a devolution plan for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, which will see residents vote for a mayor on 4 May, 2017.
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Green light for master plan of Cardiff’s ‘garden city’ project
The City of Cardiff Council has approved plans for the remaining elements of Plasdŵr, the £2 billion garden city development earmarked for the north-west outskirts of the capital.
Roger Milne, The Planner

News round up
A round-up of planning news
– Dissington Garden Village approved
– Government urged to deliver on Crossrail 2
– Innovative housing approved in Hertfordshire
– Housing scheme will bring 60 homes to rural Warwickshire
– Plans submitted for new £26m leisure centre
– Oxford regeneration scheme begins with student housing
Matt Moody, The Planner

Planning news – 16 March 2017

Read the full story by clicking on the headline.

Khan approves two housing developments
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has given consent for two high-density developments that both include more than 30 per cent affordable housing…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Right to Buy ban bill launched in Wales
The Welsh Government has put a bill banning the Right to Buy and associated rights before the National Assembly for Wales…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Southwark to protect its pubs
Southwark Council has issued an Article 4 Direction on all 188 pubs in the borough to protect them from permitted development rights…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Guidance on creating inclusive environments launched
The Construction Industry Council (CIC) has published a guide aimed at creating an accessible and inclusive built environment…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Budget transport funding allocated
Transport secretary Chris Grayling has identified the traffic hotspots that will receive a share of the £220 million funding announced in the Budget…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

News round-up
A round-up of planning news
– Centre for Cities chief to head industrial strategy
– Committee to meet to discuss garden village proposal
– Funding for new roads and land in Scotland
– £1.8m for Dundee-London air route
– New power station opens in Manchester
– Midlands council to build council homes
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Planning news – 9 March 2017

Read the full story by clicking on the headline.

Budget 2017: Transport funding announced for the Midlands and the North
Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced funding for transport in the Midlands and the North of England…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Housing White Paper fails to address coordinated approach to tackle shortage
There is little evidence in the government’s industrial strategy of coordination across government departments to achieve “an economy that works for all”, with the Housing White Paper cited as example, according to a report…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords vote to protect pubs
The House of Lords has voted to amend the Neighbourhood Planning Bill so it removes permitted development rights relating to the change of use or demolition of pubs…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Plans submitted for garden village near Fareham
Buckland Development Ltd has lodged a planning application for Welborne Garden Village, featuring proposals for 6,000 homes, with Fareham Borough Council…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Budget 2017: Further devolution for London
Chancellor Philip Hammond says an agreement has been reached between the UK Government and the Greater London Authority (GLA) on joint working to address congestion and infrastructure funding…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

News round-up
A round-up of planning news…
– Dover to review local plan
– new study to assess high-rise accommodation
– Land deal completed in Hertfordshire
– Calls made for bond to raise project finance in Scotland.
Laura Edgar, The Planner


Is community-led housing part of the answer?

The recent Housing White Paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ asserted that traditional models for house building are not enough to deliver the housing numbers we need.  Several possible models to diversify the market were floated – all covered in our news that week – but if we are to look for smaller sites for development is there a role for community-led housing in this mix?

This question is currently being explored by a project in a local community here in Bristol.  Led by Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) and funded by Bristol City Council and Arts Council England, the ‘We Can Make…’ project brings together the local community with planning and building professionals, academics, artists and policy makers.  Working together they are exploring how communities can lead and influence development in their area so that it meets their needs and interests.

This isn’t just neighbourhood planning.  It’s a test space for a new kind of housing model and as far as I’m aware this project is the first of its kind.

If you’re interested, to attend the next event it’s next Thursday 16th 4.30 – 6.30pm at the Knowle West Media Centre (Leinster Avenue, BS4 1NL).  To find out more contact

If you’re involved in other similar projects, do add a comment.

[Note: To be open about my interest here, I’m also Chair of Trustee at KWMC (on a voluntary basis) and passionate about the work they do in South Bristol.  Its not often that my two interests collide, but I’m pleased to be able to help when they do]



Planning news – 2 March 2017

Read the full story by clicking on the headline.

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Tight vote as Lords seek to make plain government’s intent on conditions
The House of Lords has voted in favour of an amendment that seeks to make it clear what clause 13’s intention is and to clarify whether or not the government plans to restrict the capacity of local authorities to put into force relevant conditions…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Council leader outlines garden village proposal
The leader of Tandridge District Council, Surrey, has outlined his plans for a strategic approach to development as part of the area’s creation of a local plan, including a new settlement…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Data: One in three London permissions not built
More than one in three homes (36 per cent) with planning permission in London are not built out, according to analysis from the Fifty Thousand Homes campaign…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Report: 400,000 workers needed to bridge construction skills ‘gulf’
British construction needs to recruit more than 400,000 workers each year between now and 2021 if it is to deliver the homes and infrastructure the nation needs…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

New 1,500-home community for Pontypool makes waves
Public consultation has started on a development of more than 1,500 homes planned for a brownfield site near Pontypool…
Roger Milne, The Planner

News in brief
A round-up of planning news
– Guide for international working published
– Coal Exchange plans set to be approved
– Peckham brownfield development approved
– Work to start on large Somerset scheme
– Funding announced for Derry air link

Laura Edgar, The Planner

Control costs with a new digital mapping tool ReQuestaPlan

I’m delighted to announce the launch on our site of a new digital mapping tool, ReQuestaPlan. This competitive product, developed by our parent company TerraQuest, enables you to create location plans and site/block plans for submission with planning applications, alongside our other compliant mapping partners.

With ReQuestaPlan you pay per map, helping you control costs. And by supporting our service you’ll help us to keep the Planning Portal’s building control and planning application services free for our >400k individual website users.

The service allows you to create plans to show the location in its surroundings, or as a detailed site plan, just by using a postcode and simple drawing tools. The output can be previewed online to ensure its suitability before purchase.

How ReQuestaPlan helps your building project

  • Easy to use
  • Competitive prices
  • Instant downloads
  • No account required
  • Free drawing tools
  • Online video help available

Find out more about our new mapping tool.

Planning News – 23 February 2017

Read the full story by clicking on the headline.

Green belt is key natural capital asset, says Helm
The green belt should be preserved and treated as a key part of the country’s natural capital ‘asset register’, according to the chair of the Natural Capital Committee…
Martin Read, The Planner

Northern Powerhouse must include housing element
Cities and regions in the north of England face a housing crisis unless steps are taken now to incorporate and accelerate residential development in plans for a Northern Powerhouse, says AECOM…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Right to Build taskforce is launched
A Right to Build expert task force that aims to help 80 organisations across the UK deliver more homes over the next three years has been launched…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Council sanctions £183m council housing investment
Birmingham City Council has approved a £183 million investment into its council housing…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

Offshore wind farm construction on a high – statistics
The total construction value for projects in the offshore wind farm sector reached £4.1 billion in 2016, increasing from £2.45 billion in 2015, according to latest statistics…
Laura Edgar, The Planner

News in brief

A round-up of planning news…

  • Sheffield mixed-use scheme green-lit
  • Masterplan approved for Glasgow uni expansion
  • London council approves hotel plans
  • Contractor appointed for Manchester development
  • Cotswolds to increase enforcement resources
  • New appointments to HCA board

Laura Edgar, The Planner

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