The government has launched a tender seeking a partner to run its online planning application service, which is used by the majority of English and Welsh councils.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is now seeking a commercial partner following an initial market testing exercise held last year.
More than 70 per cent of planning applications in England and Wales now go through the portal.
Planning minister Nick Boles said: “There is huge potential to take the Planning Portal to the next level and create services that will benefit businesses and homeowners.
“We have built a business that is well run and has a strong brand but now is the time for a firm to take it forward to fulfil its full potential.
“Bringing in external expertise is the best way to ensure the site works at its very best in the future.”
The portal receives more than a million visits each month, around 320,000 planning applications a year and allows planning applications to all local authorities in England and Wales to be submitted electronically through the website.
The portal is the official electronic source of approved building regulations documents, with more than 2m downloads a year.
The tender says that the department is seeking share participation in a joint venture company, in exchange for a contribution of resources including management, resources, marketing and technology solutions.
It says: “In the event of a successful consortium bid, DCLG may specify that the consortium takes a particular legal form and/or require that a single consortium member takes primary liability or that each member contracts on the basis of joint and several liability irrespective of the legal form adopted.”
The closing date for applications is 8 August.