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This web site allows parish or town councils (or any other group) to maintain a list of their planning applications that is visible to the public. Adding an application to the current list is a simple matter of entering the case number in a text box. Once an application has been reviewed at the planning meeting the entry is moved to a category that represents the month in which it was reviewed. In this way the public can see what applications are coming up for review and look back through the applications of previous months. Simple notes can be recorded against the application, also the decision of the parish/town council and the decision of the district council can be recorded.
The site can also be used to help prepare for planning meetings. All the files required for the review meeting can be downloaded very easily and the web page that is used can also be saved and then acts as an index to all the files that have been downloaded.
There are also occasions when files from previous applications are needed in meetings. Perhaps a current application is related to previous applications that have been refused. It helps to be able to see files for these previous applications. I have called this the Ad Hoc Query.
The site was started in April 2009 and if Parish Councils want to use it then it will grow.
The system currently works with the Public Access sites for the District or Borough Council shown on the main page. Hopefully more will be added.
If you find you need more help than given in this page or you want to comment on the site please contact Paul Marfell using the contact form found here. Normal email correspondence can then take place. Alternatively join the Parish Council forum here.
You will need to create your group for the appropriate district if it does not already exist. You will then need to register a user name and password for the group and start adding applications to your list using the case number.
You will find instructions on how to do these things in the sections below.
The main page lists the district and borough councils that the system works with. Click on the Local Council List entry against the District/borough council you are within. The top part of the next screen lists the parish or town councils that are using the system. Click on the entry for your parish/town council. (If you are a member of a parish council that wants to start using the system, i.e. your parish/town council is not in the top list, then please read the Registration section below.) The next screen shows an option for public use that initially displays a list of the planning applications that have yet to be reviewed. Note that this page will only list applications after they have been added. A drop down list towards the top of the list allows the user to select previous months. The list shows the details of the application and has a link to the public access site that takes you directly to the entry for that application.
The first option in the parish council section creates a web page that contains the details of the current applications. The numbered links on the left of the page are links to the documents on the public access site. Use these numbers to download the files. Save all the files to the same folder and do not rename the files. Save the web page (HTML only - very important, it will not work otherwise) to the same place as the files. In the meeting you simply open the saved web page and then the document descriptions as entered on the Public Access system are links to all the saved files. For downloading the files I strongly recommend using the Firefox web browser and a Firefox extension called DownThemAll. This reduces the whole downloading process to a few mouse clicks. Once you have set it going it can just download all the files unattended.
There is a demo of the Ad Hoc Query system (described below) that can be found here. You can view the demo if you have a Flash player installed. It shows how to perform an Ad Hoc query but it also shows how to use the page to download the files and then use the web page in your meeting. This part of the process is the same for current applications and the Ad Hoc query.
The ad hoc query system allows you to produce an index page and download the files for a list of other applications that might be related in some way to those being reviewed. All that is needed is a comma separated list of case numbers. Please read the section below on how to find the case number. Type or paste the list of case numbers into the box and click on "Query". The page that is produced is then used in exactly the same way as has already been described above. If for any reason you need more than one of these ad hoc index pages you will need to give subsequent web pages a different name when you save them.
If you have Flash player installed you can see a demo of how to use the Ad Hoc Query by following this link.
An application can be added to the system simply by following the "Add application" link and pasting the case number of the application in the box and clicking on the Submit button.
Once the application has been recorded in the system it is possible to note related applications against it. These related applications then appear in the meeting preparation file below the parent application. The edit screen is used to enter a comma separated list of applications in the text box called Related Apps.
It is necessary to edit the application record after the review meeting so that it is moved off the current list. A drop-down list of the available categories will be displayed. The category is changed to the month of the review meeting. If the month is not in the list then use the Edit Category option described below to add it. Change the Accept value dependant on the review decision. At a later date the parish council will be notified of the planning decision. This can then be recorded against the application.
This is used to add a new category when required. The categories mainly exist to remove an application from the New Plans category.
When viewing the application list the different categories can be selected.
Baildon add one each month to represent the month in which the application was reviewed. It is sensible to use a categories like 2009-04, 2009-05, 2009-06 so that they appear in the correct order in the drop down list.
It is possible to add a category of 2009% and this will list all applications that are in categories beginning 2009.
If the parish or town council you want to record the applications for is not currently using the system then you can register by creating a user record for yourself with a username, password, email address and choose the parish or town council to be registered with. Please use a proper email address. Your email address will be stored in the database and will be used when another person wants to work with the same parish. The email address may also be used to send out emails as required to keep you informed of major changes to the site that may need your attention. Accounts that appear to have incorrect email addresses may be deleted.
If the parish/town council or group you are interested in, and want to work on, is already registered then the site administrator will need to create an account for you. The best way to get this done is for the person currently registered to contact the site administrator with the required details username, password, full name, email address and the name of the group. You should note that once registered you have access to all the applications recorded within your group and so you must work as a team.
If your group does not appear in the list for the district then you can create one by following the Create New Group link. Groups that appear to have incorrect email addresses may be deleted.
A case number looks like this - KF5UVPSJ08D00. The link to the application that is included in the email notification of an application has the case number on the end of it. Simply copy the bit after it says "&caseno=".
The case number can also be found by doing a search for an application on the public access site clicking on the "view" arrow and getting the case number from the end of the link.
If you have a Flash player installed you can see a demo of how to get the case number at this link here.
Mozilla Firefox can be downloaded from the Mozilla website.
The normal application to use for viewing PDF files is Adobe Acroread that you can download from their website. This is quite a heavy weight viewer with lots of features - it can read PDF documents to you out loud.
Other PDF file viewers are avaialbale and one that is small, light and quick is by Foxit.
Once you have downloaded the PDF files you can edit them using various applications though this is not as easy as using a word-processor because of the nature of PDF files. You can "red line", annotate, measure and otherwise "mark-up" the PDF files using PDF Xchange Viewer. The Foxit PDF viewer mentioned above also allows you to add notes to PDF files.