Government backs council-developed apps for planning permission applications

Two programs aim to reduce number of invalid applications from homeowners

Credit: PA

The government is backing the rollout of two apps developed by local authorities that aim to simplify the application process to obtain permission to build extensions on homes.

The Reducing Invalid Planning Applications (RIPA) web app is designed for use by homeowners, architects and housing developers. By answering a series of questions, a user can ascertain whether their planned building work – such as a kitchen extension or a loft conversion, for example – will meet local and national requirements. 

If it does so, they can then progress to a filing an application for the documentation needed for work to begin.

The Back office Planning System (BoPS) app, meanwhile, is to be used by planning officials in local authorities. The tool, which is another web app, aims to allow users to access all the necessary information as easily as possible and manage and track applications.

“It puts the focus on data rather than documents, helping planners make decisions much more quickly and efficiently,” the government said.

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The technologies have been developed by local councils in Buckinghamshire and the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. Development – and testing, which is currently taken place in the three areas ahead of a planned national rollout – was backed by government’s Local Digital Fund. 

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We want to speed up the planning process, to help families make improvements to their homes more quickly. These apps are a step towards a planning system that is transparent, efficient, and end-to-end digital – saving time and money for developers, architects and homeowners, and letting planners focus on the merits of applications rather than chasing paperwork.”

Rob Bristow, Lambeth’s director of planning, transport and sustainability, added: “Around half of the planning applications we receive in Lambeth are found to be invalid – mostly because people have difficulty interpreting the complex planning requirements to make valid applications. The RIPA app will guide users through the rules, based on what they want to do and where in the borough their property is, to see whether their plans meet the requirements. Along with the BoPS app, which will see a hugely improved back-end system for planners to use in their assessments, these exciting new tools will not only provide an enhanced experience for property owners, they will also enable interested parties such as neighbours to be consulted sooner, and help planning officers process applications more effectively.”


Sam Trendall

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