How RAMPS started
A couple of dedicated community councillors from Midlothian used to check their Local Authority Planning Portal regularly to see if there were any changes that would have an impact on their area.
This isn't easy to do on any Local Authority Planning Portal, because this is no historical perspective - you only see the status of planning applications as they are at the current time.
For a new application there's no problem, but how do you track changes to a handful of applications that are on your radar? You have to remember the status of each one of them - important details and documents. There's no guarantee that you'll spot a new document and you'd struggle to spot a change to a document.
About 4 years ago, these councillors started chatting to an IT guy about how this process was very difficult and time consuming. He was willing to help, and so RAMPS was born.
The early days
In the beginning, RAMPS was set up to email the team a basic report every night. The report would show details of all changes to all planning applications in Midlothian over the last day.
Although this was the first version of an automated report, it proved useful and saved the team a lot of time in assessing changes.
Over time, the report became more sophisticated. The format of the report changed to html so that you could see it in a browser, and there were reports by wards/community councils.
A basic website followed which allowed the user to show 'snapshots' of an application on a selected day. It also allowed the user to see changes between selected dates.
By this time, the team were gaining confidence in the output generated by RAMPS and were beginning to use it as their main source of information rather than the Midlothian Planning Portal.
Development and current status
RAMPS has been continually developed with the input of the original team and a few others, including Planning Democracy
and their mentors.
In December 2021, RAMPS extended its range to cover almost all Local Authorities in Scotland.