TerraQuest News

- Mar 2023

Continuing improvements to the Planning Portal in 2023

Following on from the welcomed enhancements we have introduced into the Planning Portal in the last year, we are eager to share our plans for further changes for the year ahead. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, our Solutions Team has been looking for exactly that – solutions.  Namely, how we can improve the user journey and reduce the likelihood of applicants submitting invalid planning applications, thus reducing further validation effort for Local Authorities; saving precious time and money for everyone.

So, to achieve this, what does our development plan look like for this year?

Creating a location plan within an online application

One of the upcoming significant improvements to the Planning Portal, is the provision of a new feature which allows applicants to draw their site boundary as part of their application. After much research, we have identified many benefits to users and Local Authorities in doing this, as such we have found that an integrated location plan will:

  • Embed the location plan into the application and pass this as data, rather than documents, to the Local Authority’s system, aligning with the government recommendation
  • Ensure users submit a compliant boundary map by providing system guidance and checks against legislative criteria
  • Allows more consistency for applications created by agents and received by Local Authorities.

Improving the amend feature for submitted applications

The amend feature is widely used when making adjustments to an application after submitting. This area of the system will see an improved user experience and benefit applicants and Local Authorities by making the user journey even more intuitive. We also aim to pass just the amendment data through to Local Authorities, resulting in a more streamlined amendment process once the change is submitted.

Changes to how supporting documents are uploaded

As part of our package of enhancements to the supporting documents upload feature, we will use the feedback from our user research to modify this area further, focusing on user journey and simplicity; resulting in efficiency gains.

Specifically for Local Authorities…

Improving how applications are sent to the authority via the back-office connector

The technology that transfers application data from the Planning Portal to Local Authority back-office systems, known as the connector, will also form part of our improvements pipeline this year. The change will involve moving to a modern, flexible, data standard that will allow:

  • Future proofing
  • Rapid adaption of changes to the legislation
  • Inclusion of geospatial data
  • Further development

As you would expect, we will continue to support the existing back-office connector following the change, ensuring backwards compatibility.

We are busy gathering research and developing the changes and will share more updates as each project moves along, so keep an eye out for further details in the coming weeks.