Planning Alerts is a free tool that lets you search for planning applications near a given address. Sort the results on either distance or date. I imagine this might be a useful tool for understanding what is happening in an area (e.g.lots of subdivision proposals, zone changes, etc). You can even comment on the applications and they are forwarded to the relevant authority. Making it easy to find and easy to complain could be a good/bad thing depending on what side you fall into I am particularly interested in the API so that I can start mapping out the results.