At a recent meeting in Buxton, High Peak Borough Council explained to an assembled group of Planning Agents how they are in a Strategic Alliance with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. This involves sharing staff and services to try and save money in the current climate of Local Government budget cuts. One recent project that is currently being developed is the creation of the Council’s own version of the Planning Portal – they will be calling it “ASSURE”. The presenters explained how much time it currently takes for the planning admin staff to download the application from the Planning Portal, and enter the information on to the Council’s own system, even if expensive third party software is used.
Applications submitted on the new system will go directly into the Councils “Back Office System” (this links directly to the Councils planning website / search facility) and will be live immediately.
What this means for us as planning agents is that the validation process should be speeded up – and when submitting applications the system will generate a list of relevant local validation requirements specific to that type of application, which will require the relevant documents to be submitted at that time.
The timeframe for implementation of this new system is 12 to 18 months. Other benefits in terms of saving time and therefore costs, is that Planning Officers will be able to use tablets / smartphones on site visits to assess applications – all part of the move towards paperless working.
From an Agent’s perspective, it shouldn’t be any different using this new system, and in fact should save time on development projects overall. However the option will remain to use the existing Planning Portal to submit, and for the traditionalists; paper plans and documents can still be submitted for the foreseeable future!
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