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January 30, 2024

Planning portals

Anyone who has spent any time on a community council will be familiar with the sense of impotence that comes with trying to monitor the endless stream of planning applications submitted by developers and then the subtle (and not so subtle) variations to those applications that appear to slip through unnoticed. A useful tool under development by Planning Democracy is designed to take some of the pain out of the process. Well worth a look even though for at least 11 local authorities, who use software called Pulsant, access to their planning portals continues to be blocked. You know who you are. 

Planning Democracy

RAMPS was born out of the irritation of constantly checking for changes to planning applications. A couple of proactive community councillors from Midlothian, and an IT specialist, decided they were fed up with doing this and set up the means to capture data from their Planning Portal every evening.  This allowed changes to planning applications to be spotted easily.

They came to us and showed us what they had done and we saw the potential in it. We have since collaborated with them to help develop the resource, which they called RAMPS.

RAMPS now covers almost all Local Authorities in Scotland and has features that we think will be super helpful for a wide range of people from individuals to community councillors or researchers.

A common complaint we hear from many community councillors is the lack of time to keep abreast of applications, especially in areas of heavy development pressure, where community councils are inundated with applications, often too many to keep tracking effectively.

Other people say that they have difficulty in keeping up to date with major or long standing planning applications. Some applications go on for such a long time that it becomes tedious to keep checking what changes, if any, are being made every week, as in some cases nothing happens for months.

In situations like these, there is no guarantee that you’ll spot a new document and its quite likely that you will miss a change made to a document already on the planning portal.

Another regular frustration is that people say they knew nothing about an application because they live beyond the area where local authorities are required to notify them (which isn’t a very big boundary). Community councils receive a weekly planning list, but this means one person has to trawl through a long list of applications to find out the ones relevant to their area. This is all precious time that can be better used.

And, of course, other people may want to know about applications in other areas that they feel connected to or have some involvement in, but have no means of finding out other than checking the relevant Planning Portals every week.

Link to RAMPS here.

RAMPS addresses all these issues, here is a summary of what it does.

Easy to Read

RAMPS compiles all the data for an application onto one page in an easy to read manner.

Quickly see what’s changed in a Local Authority area

You can select an area, any combination of wards and community councils in a Local Authority, and search for changes in that area between two dates.  The report shows new applications and changes to existing applications.

Quickly see if there are any changes for a specific application

Just like ‘area’ changes, you can search for an application, and see what’s changed in that application between two dates selected.

Be able to see the history of application changes

On a Local Authority Planning Portal, you only see the status of planning applications as they are at the current time, but RAMPS allows you to see changes made during the application’s lifetime, which may throw up important issues.

Be notified of changes to applications

You can ask to be notified of any changes made to specific applications.

You can make it even easier by signing up for a RAMPS account.  You can then ask to receive alerts via email notifications to let you know when a change has been made.

Be notified about new applications in your selected areas

You can ask to be notified by email about any new planning applications in any area that you specify.

For info:

Unfortunately, East Lothian and West Dunbartonshire are not currently available in RAMPS.  It is hoped that these may be included in the future.

Access RAMPS here.