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Important news about Supporting Documents

by on June 26, 2012

I wrote to you recently about our decision to archive supporting documents on planning applications submitted more than five years ago. We’re going a step further with this in late July.

Over 1,000 applications are submitted to the Planning Portal every working day – this puts significant strain on our system storage.

If our system storage reaches capacity, and we don’t free up space, it will not be possible for new applications to be submitted to local planning authorities via the Portal.

So we’re introducing a new data archiving policy.

From 23rd July you will only have real-time access to supporting documents for applications made after July 2010. 

If you need older Supporting Documents we recommend you download them before that date. To learn more read our FAQ.

This is part of an ongoing process which will see all supporting documents for applications older than 24 months being archived regularly.

‘Archived’ means that we will remove the documents from the online storage facility and store them securely on a hard drive in our offices.

If this causes you a problem and you want to discuss with us how you could continue to access Supporting Documents older than 24 months online (at cost), please contact us.

Just to be clear: we aren’t removing the applications themselves just the supporting documents.

See also previous post on this topic

12 Comments
  1. Makes perfect sense to me, 1000 plus applications per day is a huge number to try and keep documents online for free use.

  2. GRPA permalink

    Yep, i hope nobody has an objection to this. Everybody has prepared the supporting docs prior to upload so should be archiving themselves. the only ‘new’ information being prepared is the 1app form information and this isn’t being touched. Worst case of having to re-upload any reused documents is not a biggie.

  3. Simon Evans permalink

    Agree with Andrew, plus all those supporting documents for any lodged applications should still be available on LA’s websites presumably.

    • Andy Rogers permalink

      Simon, you are not in the real world. Recently I have found websites with application documents that are incomplete, wrongly labelled and (in some cases) related to completely different applications and/or sites. Very often when preparing an appeal against a refusal I find that I have to provide the Planning Inspectorate with the application documents myself because I cannot trust the Council’s website to be correct, complete, or (certainly) up to date. This is particularly so when amendments have been made to proposals prior to the decision, but the website doesn’t have the latest revisions recorded even though these are clearly listed on the refusal notice.

  4. This is particularly so when amendments have been made to proposals prior to the decision, but the website doesn’t have the latest revisions recorded even though these are clearly listed on the refusal notice.Everybody has prepared the supporting docs prior to upload so should be archiving themselves.

  5. A Forbes permalink

    The archive is VITAL in order to gain quick information on Planning history, prior to making a new Application. Its removal is a complete backward step and I agree wholeheartedly with Andy Rogers and Olivia. Why reduce the online availability? – it doesnt make sense at all.

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Thanks for the comment. The documents will continue to be available from the local authority website just not on the Portal.

  6. James Hasler-Winter permalink

    I think that anything that risks impeding the already excessively patchy provision of access to planning histories is very much to be deplored. Public accessibility to wholly accurate original submissions and subsequent variations should be paramount. The already frequently obstructive, obscure routes to and the variable nature, quality, presentation and accessibility of what is available by way of planning information on local authority websites is probably going to be made so much worse by this proposal. I also note that whereas you were originally talking about five years you are now proposing a two year cut off date and selective downloading by LA’s. These records should at least be comprehensively accessible via the LA websites and in addition the reference editions in the Portal’s archive should be maintained with a commitment to ensuring that technological change does not render the original portal copies inaccessible.

    If you allow incomplete downloading by LA’s the only full copies are going to be the original property owners copies. How does that meet a full public record requirement?

    I seems to me that the spirit of the original concept of uniform transparency and accessibility is being thrown out of the window. Shame.

    • PortalDirector permalink

      James,
      thank you for your response but please see my earlier replies.
      There seems to be confusion regarding the Portals role which I hope to set straight with an explanatory note later today.

  7. While understandig the expense of online storage, the real time access period appears a little short. Extending to four years would cover most permission validity periods plus a slight buffer to take account of the determination period etc.

    “….store them securely on a hard drive in our offices”. Doesn’t sound particularly secure.

  8. Jake Noble permalink

    This seems an extremely retrograde step. It is surely about saving relatively small amounts of money.

    The loss of efficiency in being able to research planning history will be a major loss to the construction industry and their clients. It is also a loss in transparency.

    I understand data storage can be an issue but it is clearly a solvable problem, data storage gets ever cheaper after all.

    If it is essential to pare down the access a 5 year cut off would seem a much more rational cut off date. Alternatively why not set up a parallel system to access archived information.

    As for the Local Authority archives, as other have said they are at best patchy.

    I would think if all the professionals who use this site were asked for an annual subscription or even a one off donation in order to maintain access to the full archive the costs could be met easily.

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Hi Jake, are you aware that the data we have removed could only ever be accessed by the person who created it.
      This was never publicly accessible data.

Please leave a comment below but be aware of a few house rules: keep it polite, please don’t criticise any named individual or organisation (either private or public). However, you can say what you like about the Planning Portal as I’ll be happy to respond directly. Please note, all comments will be moderated before being published.

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