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E-planning on its way

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The government is on course to have all applications capable of being made and viewed online by the end of 2005. 'Parsol' is the favoured mechanism and it has been launched to local planning authorities as the means of getting their act together. Mainly aimed at providing the necessary software and data set-up, it will be promoted to applicants once it is in place. Largely based on the advanced work of the London Borough of Wandsworth, it should be 'rolled-out' next year.

Although government has put £4 million into the system, it has also put £2 million into the Planning Portal, which is now under the wing of the Planning Inspectorate. Neither approach has secure ongoing funding. The application system of the portal appears less convincing than Parsol and is not cross-platform compatible (yet at least), so is likely to drop by the wayside. This limitation does not affect a third system by i-Document Systems, which is in use by a few authorities.

The Planning Portal does, however, provide an excellent means of reference and keeping in touch with what is going on in planning, and is worth a look (www. planningportal. gov. uk).

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