TerraQuest News

- Mar 2023

Addressing invalidation due to location plan errors

In this instalment detailing future enhancements to the Planning Portal, we look at application invalidation, why it’s an issue, and how we will help to overcome it with the introduction to the service of the location plan feature.

Our team at TerraQuest has been researching the issue of invalidation for some time. They have been working with applicants and Local Authorities to find out about their processes and pain points, which has helped us understand how best we can help to solve the issue of reducing invalidation rates.

What makes an application invalid?

Every application is validated against a set of criteria. On receipt of an application, the Local Planning Authority will firstly check the application to determine whether it’s complete.

Broadly, a valid application for planning permission must include:

  • The completed application
  • Required documentation
  • The correct planning fee

Online applications are checked by the system for completeness and format, not the quality of the information provided, this task falls to the Local Authority.

For an application to be valid, authorities must receive all the information they need to be able to process an application and make a decision. If they do not receive all the information, then an application is invalid.

Why are some applications invalid?

An application can be invalid due to small, easy-to-make mistakes such as incomplete, incorrect, or missing information, this is particularly the case for location plans.

Research shows that surprisingly, an average of 50% of planning applications are invalid. Of this, 22% are a result of a location plan not meeting the accepted criteria, making it the highest scoring reason for an invalid application.

Why are invalid applications an issue?

Submitting an invalid application is where the application process can be delayed. It means that Local Authorities need to go back and request more information from the applicant or agent. This back and forth can happen several times just for one application - wasting time, effort, and money for both parties and causing delays in the decision-making cycle.

How will the location plan feature help reduce invalidation rates?

You’ll know from our recent update that our upcoming enhancement to the Planning Portal will include a location plan feature embedded into the service. Using Ordnance Survey mapping data, we can help users to easily and accurately identify the site as part of creating their application.  

Applicants will draw their site boundary to create a location plan which complies with legislation, reducing risk of invalidation due to missing details.

The location plan feature will:

  • Be simple to use
  • Use correctly scaled OS maps
  • Allow you to plot a red line boundary
  • Give you the option to draw a blue line boundary to show owned adjoining land or property
  • Allow you to add labels to identify road names or landmarks
  • Share information in a consistent way
  • Create a compliant location plan.

Local Authorities will also receive the location information as PDFs and as data files, helping them to streamline their process; resulting in a consistent approach for them, as well as agents. 

We expect the location plan feature to be available early in May, for all applications in England that require a location plan.

Watch the video to find out more.

Further information

We will continue our updates over the coming weeks, to give you more details on exactly how the feature will work and what it means for applicants and Local Authorities, this will include guidance and FAQs.

You can also sign up to attend our free webinar on 27 April, to see a demonstration and take part in Q&A opportunities. To be included in this free webinar, please click the link below.

Sign up to attend 

For more details, visit our the Planning Portal website, follow us on our social media channels or subscribe to the Planning Portal Blog for instant alerts.