A change to our back office software affecting all services

The UNIform software used by North Norfolk District Council for the processing of all Planning, Building Control, and Tree works applications along with Property Information requests is being upgraded. 

The upgrades are required to ensure that our system is stable and using the most up to date version of the software available. The software provider is committed to supporting and developing the product into the foreseeable future, this will lead to periodic upgrades requiring system shutdowns for short periods. We will continue to advise when these are required with as much notice as possible. These upgrades will allow concerns reported with the system introduction to be tracked and managed. Resources are committed to ensuring the development of the system to enable the most effective customer experience from using this system.

We hope you are impacted on in the least possible way by these upgrades if you were commenting or viewing applications online through Public Access. Officers are working to minimise disruption for our customers. 

In preparation for the upgrades our teams have:

  • Undertaken testing of the new system
  • Progressed elements of all types of applications and enquiries which were not impacted by the system unavailability, e.g., carrying out site visits and site inspections
  • Drafted recommendation reports on all types of applications
  • Responded to customer emails
  • Supported additional customer contact calls resulting from downtime

We hope you didn’t notice any impact if you were commenting or viewing applications online through Public Access. Significant work has been done to minimise the effect on our customers.

How does this affect each area of our service?


Planning Applications

We will be working through all applications submitted before or during the shutdown period and registering them in the upgraded system, new servers and public access. Your patience during this short break is appreciated.

We have been drafting decisions, and will issue these in date order asap once the system is live again.

Our Development Committee will proceed as scheduled. Dates of future meetings can be found on the meetings calendar.

Tree works applications

We will register Tree works applications on the upgraded system. If you have been advised and your tree work application was approved or refused, you will now receive your formal decision.

Commenting on a planning application

If you are a statutory consultee, please keep submitting your comments online through Public Access or by email to planning@north-norfolk.gov.uk.

If you are a Town and Parish Council, please keep submitting your comments to us in your usual manner.

If you are a member of the public, you can still comment on planning applications. Please use Public Access to submit your comments or email planning@north-norfolk.gov.uk.

We will endeavour to accommodate any requests from all third parties for extensions to time frames for comments whilst being mindful of the need to determine applications. Officers will review application whose consultation period expires during this shutdown and will extend the consultation period to account for the number of working days lost.

We will undertake that wherever possible if you contact the Council to confirm you wish to make comments that you will receive that opportunity and will not be prejudiced by this short shutdown.

Building Control

We will maintain a level of service for Building Control, the team will be working to clear any backlog of applications and decisions that arises. Please be patient with them. Officers will continue to assess building control applications and undertake site inspections.

Enforcement

Any new complaints will be registered and investigated. Officers have been preparing recommendation reports so will be able to advise on the outcomes of investigations. We have facility to issue urgent notices that are required to protect public safety or amenity.

Land Charges and Searches

We will respond and register new searches. We have reduced backlogs and will be able to maintain performance when the system is updated. This has been a busy time for house sales / searches in our district, where possible additional resources will be added to support the service. In the meantime, please continue to send search requests to electronic.search@north-norfolk.gov.uk.

We would like to report that the new Public Access for Land Charges (PALC) system is now live, meaning customers will be able to send requests and receive search results online. This is part of the ongoing improvement of our services which aims to improve customer accessibility.

Street Naming and Numbering

Applications for new addresses including street naming and numbering or changes to addresses (house and business names) will continue to be registered and processed.

Impacts?

The closure of our system from 4 May is short term shutdown, however we appreciate the flow of work that comes through the planning services at North Norfolk and will be working to minimise disruption during this shutdown. During shutdown officers will continue working and will be progressing current cases and enquires.

There will be an unavoidable backlog created as customer comments, applications, decisions and enquiries received during the 4 working days of shutdown cannot be processed. Our officers will be working on those items in chronological order and will endeavour to keep disruption to a minimum.

Once the new system is available it will be the focus of all teams to catch up during normal working hours. However, if needed, more resource will be made available to help address any backlog of new applications, decisions, enquiries and searches. I appreciate that we cannot fully appreciate all impacts on our customers from this shutdown but please be assured that we will be responsive and flexible to request that arise from those impacts.

We realise there may have been some impact on our customers over the upgrading process. Please be assured we are working hard to catch up and we appreciate your continued patience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the Planning Department still be operating normally?

We will be working to keep the processes for existing planning applications moving forward. We have registered as many applications as possible before the shutdown of the system to ensure that consultations are running. Officers will continue to carry out site visits (ensuring compliance with other procedures in respect of Coronavirus pandemic at present time). We cannot issue any decisions during the shutdown period but officers will be proactively keeping applicants up to date with progress on their applications during this period.

Will there be a delay in getting planning permission? What are the time frames for dealing with existing planning applications

We will be unable to issue decisions on planning applications. You may be asked for an extension of time to cover both the system downtime and a short period afterwards to process any resulting backlog.  Officers will be able to advise you if your application is approved or refused. If approved we ask that you wait until you receive the decision notice before any works are started on site as there may be conditions you need to be aware of. Decisions will be issued in date order once the new system is up and running and additional resource has been put in place to catch up quickly once we are live on the new system.

Can people submit planning applications?

Planning applications can be submitted via the Planning Portal at www.planningportal.co.uk

What will happen if I submit a new planning application at the moment?

Whilst we cannot register new applications during shutdowns we will be carrying out an initial validation of your application. We cannot check all site constraints so you may be required to submit additional information in the future once a full validation can be performed. We ask that you can provide this information so that once the new system is up and running your application will be valid and can be processed more quickly. Once the new system is up and running additional resource is in place to enable us to catch up. We will formally acknowledge receipt of your application and advise of determination timescales. We will undertake all consultations and erect site notices once applications are registered. 

Will the Council's consultation processes for Town and Parish Councils, Statutory Consultees and other consultees change? How are you getting responses from Consultees?

Consultation processes will remain the same with most consultations already issued electronically. We would kindly ask that consultees respond electronically via our Planning Public Access System or via email at: Planning.Consultation@north-norfolk.gov.uk

Can I still submit comments on a planning application as a member of the public?

Yes. We have registered all applications submitted before the shutdowns and consultations are running. Public Access will remain open for you to comment in the normal manner.

Once we go live with the updates we will be consulting on all new applications received.

As applicant/agent how can we get hold of case officers?

Email is suggested at this time. Please contact the case officer and ensure you provide your contact phone number so that the case officer can speak to you about your application. If the case officer email address is unknown please contact planning@north-norfolk.gov.uk where this request can be forwarded to the relevant officer.

Are officers available for site visits or site meetings?

Yes. In accordance with our procedures to ensure the safety of site visits during the Coronavirus pandemic, officers will be undertaking site visits.

What happens to cases needing to be determined by Development Committee?

Whilst the Council is seeking to determine as many applications as possible before the shutdown of the system, some cases may still require a Committee decision. Committees are running as planned and details of dates can be found on the website.  Please contact the case officer if you are unclear whether an application requires Committee Determination and to discuss the expected date for referral.

Can I still obtain pre-application advice? Will it be delayed?

As with formal planning applications, the pre-application advice service in relation to planning, trees and listed buildings is continuing for existing enquiries, but new enquiries cannot be registered until the new system is live. You can continue to apply and we will hold your enquiry until the new system is up and running.  Please apply using our online pre-application service or complete one of our electronic forms and send by email to planning@north-norfolk.gov.uk.

My application has already been submitted and is being significantly delayed - can I have a refund please?

Where we can we will determine current applications before the shutdown of the system. Where we cannot determine your application before shutdown we will ask you for an extension of time to cover the shutdown period. Refunds will not usually be given for schemes already submitted and validated except where no decision is made within 26 weeks and no extension of time has been agreed. If you have already experienced delays with your application we apologise that this upgrade will cause a further delay to the issuing of your decision. We cannot issue decisions during this shutdown period but resources are in place to help us catch up as quickly as possible after go live at which time decision will be issued in date order. We are grateful for your patience. 

I don't have email or internet access - Where do I send my letter of representation?

Whilst we would prefer to receive electronic/email communications, you can still submit representations by post at: Planning Service
North Norfolk District Council
Holt Road
Cromer
NR27 9EN
Please note that there will be additional processing time for representations sent via post.

Someone is cutting down a tree: Is it protected? Someone is cutting down a tree: Do they have or need permission?

For information about trees please visit the Council's Protected Tree pages

Someone is cutting down a tree: Will someone from the Council do something about it/come and stop them?

We have measure in place to ensure we can respond to such notifications during the period while we have no system. If you do have concerns please contact the Council via: planning@north-norfolk.gov.uk and mark it as urgent and include as much information as you can. The Tree Officer will get back to you as soon as possible.

My / a tree is dangerous and I’m worried it is about to fall down and hurt someone/thing: Will the Council come and have a look at it?

We have measure in place to ensure we can respond to such notifications. If you do have concerns please contact the Council at planning@north-norfolk.gov.uk and mark it as urgent and include as much information as you can. The Tree Officer will get back to you as soon as possible.

Will the Building Control Department still be operating normally?

We will be working to keep the processes for existing applications moving forward. We have registered as many applications as possible before the shutdown of the system. Officers will continue to carry out site visits (ensuring compliance with other procedures in respect of Coronavirus pandemic at present time). Officers will be proactively keeping applicants up to date with progress on their applications during this period. 

Will there be a delay in getting Building Control Approval?

Applications will still be determined within the statutory timescales. Depending on the delays that may occur within our service or from your agent dealing with any clarifications, it may be necessary to reject your application. If this occurs we can subsequently Approve the application when the necessary clarifications have been dealt with. We will endeavour to communicate with you or your agent during the process to clarify what the position of your application is.

Can I still submit a Building Regulation Application?

Yes. Applications can be submitted via the NNDC portal, the Planning Portal or by email to building.control@north-norfolk.gov.uk

What will happen if I submit a new Building Regulation Application at the moment?

We will proceed with the validation and assessment of Building Regulation Application.  We will still issue a decision within the statutory time frames, however our ability to process and assess the applications may take longer than usual.

Can I start Work?

There is no restriction on starting your project, however if you start work before you have been given approval you will be working at your own risk. Please email your case surveyor to discuss this further.

As applicant / agent how can we get hold of Surveyors?

Email is suggested at this time. Please contact the case officer and ensure you provide your contact phone number so that the case officer can speak to you about your application. If the case officer email address is unknown please contact building.control@north-norfolk.gov.uk where this request can be forwarded to the relevant officer.

Are officers available for site visits or site meetings?

Officers will continue to carry out site visits (ensuring compliance with other procedures in respect of Coronavirus pandemic at present time).

Can I still obtain pre-application advice?

Pre application advice is still available. Please email through any enquiries. Please be aware these will be dealt with as a lower priority than current applications.

I don't have email - Where do I send my information with officers working remotely?

Whilst we would prefer to receive electronic/email communications, you can still submit representations by post at:
Building Control
North Norfolk District Council
Holt Road
Cromer
NR27 9EN
Please note that there will be additional processing time for information sent via post.

Is work on the Local Plan still continuing?

Yes. Whilst officers are working at home due to the Coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the back office system upgrade does not affect the progress of the Local Plan. Please keep up to date by looking at our website for more information. 

Can I still submit a property search?

Yes. New searches will not be registered but can still be submitted by emailing electronic.search@north-norfolk.gov.uk

What measures are in place to catch up once the new system is in operation?

We recognise the timing of this upgrade to our systems is not ideal, but it is necessary. Extra resource is in place to catch up following go live of the new system, and we expect a quick return to our excellent service standards.

How might this affect my property sale?

Hopefully this will not impact or delay a property sale, we will have extra resource to clear the backlog of applications following go live of the new system.

Can I still register a complaint?

Yes. Please use the online form to notify us of your complaint or email us at combined.enforcement@north-norfolk.gov.uk

What will happen with my existing complaint?

Officers will be preparing recommendation reports so that once we are live we can advise on the outcomes of investigations or issue notices as necessary

What if action needs to be taken quickly?

Emergency measures will be in place during system downtime in the event that the Council has to take enforcement action quickly.


Last updated: 9th July 2021