Planning pioneers

A new online self-service planning tool is being pioneered in Buckinghamshire.

It enables anyone in the county to check if a project idea is likely to be allowed under national permitted development rights, or whether it may need planning permission.

The service is part of a national pilot by the Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing to improve submitting and processing planning applications.

The new service works by carrying out a high-level check of the project against legislation and Geographic Information System data to see if the project may fall under ‘permitted development’.

The service also warns if other types of consent, such as prior approval, tree or listed building, may additionally be required.

The new service is available to use now on Buckinghamshire Council’s website.

There is also an option to use a new online application service to allow homeowners and planning professionals to apply for a lawful development certificate as an alternative to using existing planning application submission tools.

Both services ask applicants questions about their project, meaning that users do not need to be planning experts to start researching changes they can make to their homes.

Peter Strachan, Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, said: ‘We’re one of just three councils in the UK to offer this new online self-service planning tool.

‘This will not only make it easier for homeowners and planning professionals to determine the correct steps to take, but it will also free up valuable resources within our planning team – enabling them to dedicate more time to projects that require planning permission.

‘The self-service planning tool is free to use and can be accessed now on our website.’

The council’s planning team is also testing a new back office system to make the lawful development assessment process more efficient and transparent for both applicants and planning officers.