Planning rules can be difficult to interpret and understand, particularly for homeowners who are just planning a one-off property extension to add more space or design a new kitchen. These planning rules can be quite confusing and, in some instances, homeowners have been incurring extra costs for their home improvement projects, such as loft conversions and kitchen extensions, as they may not have needed full planning permission. With the lack of clear information on this subject, there have been invalid applications rejected which were submitted for what is known as ‘permitted developments’, which wastes time and money.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government has responded to this by developing two new web applications. These apps are being tested in three areas so far.
The first web application is designed to provide guidance for homeowners, while the second web application is designed to help architects and developers by simplifying and speeding up the application process.
This new web application will also help council planning officials to manage permitted development applications by helping them track the progress and placing the information they require to make informed decisions in an accessible format. By placing an emphasis on data, rather than documents, it helps planning officials to make decisions efficiently and quickly.
For homeowners, the new web app uses simple language and intuitive diagrams to help users to navigate through the system. By asking homeowners a series of questions, it can determine whether their plans will meet the local and national requirements. In addition, homeowners can also apply for permission within the app. If they are approved, they will receive a certificate which shows that their plans are permitted development, which will allow building projects to go ahead.
These apps are the first steps towards moving away from the outdated paper-based systems and replacing them with a digital process, according to the Ministry. This would effectively replace the need to manually navigate through long PDFs in order to find the right information.
The next stage, once the web applications are proven successful in trials, will be to further develop these applications to support all smartphone operating systems, effectively making these apps widely available to all homeowners.
For homeowners who have been avoiding building projects because of the complexities of the application process, the new web apps could mean that the process will be simplified to be a stress-free method of applying for planning permission.
About Stuart Mosley
Stuart Mosley (CeFA, CeMap, CLTM) founded SJ Financial Solutions in June 2005 having spent 12 years with big corporates such as Halifax and Santander. He felt the personal touch and straight speaking was missing from financial and mortgage advice services and set up SJ Financial Solutions to change this.
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