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Planning Portal revamps its website

Words: Laura Edgar

The Planning Portal has relaunched its website and underlying digital platform to facilitate increased use of mobile devices and to provide multi-language support for both English and Welsh.

This follows the announcement last week that the Planning Portal has won a bid to manage online planning application services for Wales.

About 90 per cent of all planning and building applications in England and Wales are done online via the Planning Portal, which is the official entry point. The site receives more than 2,000 applications every working day from 140,000 registered users.

Sarah Chilcott, managing director at the Planning Portal, said: “We were seeing a steady rise in online applications, an 8 per cent increase from 2015 to 2016, so required a robust website and digital platform to support this, which could also facilitate growth in mobile and tablet usage.”

She said an average of 10 per cent of the traffic to the website is from tablets and 22 per cent from mobiles. “The need to deliver a good experience to these visitors is clear. As part of our commitment to accessibility, we also needed to provide multi-language support for our Welsh users.”

The refreshed Planning Portal is based on Jadu Continuum CMS, which updates every two weeks, meaning the Planning Portal doesn’t have to endure big three or six-monthly upgrades. The maintenance is iterative and ongoing, so disruption is kept to an absolute minimum, explained Chilcott.

“The new Planning Portal is faster and mobile-friendly, with better focus on key user tasks. Everything should look familiar, but we’ve made the application process faster and easier.”

A new service that aims to help teams collaborate on planning applications – ‘Workspaces’ – has also been launched. Chilcott explained that one team member can start an application process and anyone with permission can help input. Previously, the originator of the project would have to collate the information and enter it manually.

As part of the project, Jadu developed a multi-language workflow engine that makes it easy for language translators to be involved in the content authoring and publishing process for multi-language content without the need for advanced technical skills.

The new website was designed by digital design agency Spacecraft Digital, and the technology behind the application process is supplied by Civica, a critical software applications, digital solutions and outsourcing services company.

Users will still be able to access the forms and information that were available on the old site, however, the content is now mobile and tablet-friendly with a new design.

The updated Planning Portal website can be viewed here.

Image credit | iStock