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Two-thirds of councils providing poor online planning application service

Almost two-thirds of councils are failing to provide a good online service for objecting to a planning application, according to a new survey from the Better Connected programme, organised by the Society for Information Management (Socitm).

The survey rated 34% of councils as providing a good or very good service, but said that stumbling blocks for the service include a lack of task promotion, a poor-quality customer journey, and poor integration with third-party planning systems.

The report said that council websites often made it difficult to find applications or find out how to comment on them, and used excess jargon.

Users couldn’t find out how to object to an application from the A to Z task list on 38% of council websites, and from the search function on 32%.

The results also showed that only 16% of websites provided guidance about permitted grounds for objection, only 30% made it clear that all comments submitted would be visible for inspection along with the person’s name, and only 14% provided e-mail alerts for when new applications are made in an area.

The results recommend little improvement from the last time the survey was conducted in 2013, when 33% of council services were rated good or very good.

The Communities and Local Government Committee published a report last week calling for a comprehensive overview of the National Policy Planning Framework.

However, Better Connected commended Eden, Edinburgh, Flintshire, Preston, Rushmoor, Southampton and West Berkshire councils for the quality of their planning websites.

Better Connected also recently published a survey into problems with council library book renewal services.

Better Connected and Planning Portal will present guidance on best practice for planning application websites at the Better Connected Live event on 24 and 25 May in Birmingham.

Other areas covered will include libraries (in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians), adult social care (in partnership with ADASS Informatics Network) and waste management (in partnership with the Institution of Wastes Management).

Socitm will also present their Digital Leadership Manifesto, along with their partnership organisations in the Local Digital Coalition.

To view all survey results, including reports for individual councils, click here.



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