10,000th on-line application

Last week we received our 10,000 on-line application. Whilst this gave us cause for great celebration (we opened a packet of chocolate biscuits – as only planners would) it is a significant milestone.  The submission of applications electronically is something we have been encouraging for a number of years as this benefits both us and our customers in how we handle their application.

Chocolate biscuits - other types of biscuits are available
Celebratory chocolate biscuits  (other brands of chocolate biscuits are available)

Last year, the Scottish Government set out the savings people make by submitting on-line. In general applicants save £200 on average with planning authorities saving £50 on average per application. This not only means savings to us and our customers but it is also good for the environment by reducing the amount of printing, copying and packaging.

Submitting applications on-line is one part of ensuring our customers have greater access to planning information.  This includes allowing you to view and comment on applications on-line and read key documents such as the Local Development Plan and planning guidance. This is all supported by increased access to the internet through computers and free wi fi in Council buildings, libraries and neighbourhood offices. In time, we will see the regular Development Management Sub-Committees and Planning Committees webcast when you can watch all the action from the comfort of your armchair or on the bus.

Pre-application planning advice

As a Planning service much of our time is taken up giving advice on proposed development prior to applications being submitted. We also recognise that the pre-application stage is important to see what issues are likely to arise. To help manage how we deal with major planning applications we have been using processing agreements and the pre-application stage is one part of this process. Having pre-application discussions gives us a better understanding of proposals early on and allows us, developers and applicants to engage other Council services to get a view of proposed developments. This provides greater certainty to developers and applicants, and allows us to make the best use of staff time and improve the service we offer.

Planning and Building Standards helpdesk
Planning and Building Standards helpdesk

To help inform our proposed approach to pre-application advice we held workshops with architects, developers and planning agents to get a better understanding of key issues.  Following this, we consulted on the introduction of charges for different levels of pre-application advice whilst still offering basic planning advice at no charge. As always, we recommend that people read the relevant planning policies and guidance prior to seeking advice from us.

The consultation survey has now closed and we will report the findings to Planning Committee later this year.