Friday 25th September saw Lambeth host the 9th Workshop for the Reducing Invalid Planning Applications (RIPA) Project. This workshop was focused on further developing the Customer Survey, as well as developing the User Journey for Lawful Development Certificates — more on this later.

Customer Survey

For those of you who have been following our progress over the past few posts, you will know that we are currently creating a customer survey to capture feedback from users of their experience of submitting a planning application currently and then, once we have the beta tool in place, we wil run the survey again to get their feedback using the tool. This way we will be able to measure how much the tool improves their experience and use this as a useful metric for our Benefit Case analysis.

For this session, the partners were presented with the combined spreadsheet of the various questions workshopped previously. As part of the coming sprint, all are to go away and rank the questions in order of what they consider to be most useful/beneficial for the project to measure. The key is for us to gather measurable metrics that provide us with useful information for the Benefits Case output report — part our funding requirement. -

The questions have been split into four main sections, designed to investigate:

· Ease of use

· Ease of understanding

· Increased efficiency

· Customer Satisfaction

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Lawful Development Certificate: User Journey Map as it currently is…

Our funders, MHCLG, arranged for members of the RIPA project team and BoPs team members to meet over the last couple of weeks to discuss project alignment and further acceleration — a private beta by December 2020 that will run Lawful Development Certificates (LDCs) through the online validation tool that the RIPA team are developing into the Back Office Planning System ( BoPs) which the project being led by Southwark. Still lots to decide and agree — such as the final MVP (minimum viable product) and how many people/applications the private Beta will trial — but in the meantime, for this workshop — we agreed it would be useful to start mapping the User Journey for an LDC application.

Using our collective knowledge and experience of helping customers, dealing with complaints about the system and our own individual experience of submitting applications, we were able to start considering what the user’s journey is currently comprised of. There are lots of angles to consider — what led them to apply for an LDC, whether this is the correct application approach for the user and so on… We focused here on the user’s process for obtaining an LDC and started by identifying any common pain points between councils that we hope to address through our service.

Using the online Miro board we divided the process for submitting planning applications into six manageable steps. These include:

· Awareness & Exploration

· Pre-app Advice

· Preparing an Application

· Submitting an Application

· Validating a Planning Application

· Determination/Decision

These stages were then split further into their tasks, touch points, feelings, pains, and opportunities for users.

One issue that popped up here was to do with the role of ‘pre-application advice’ in obtaining a Certificate of Lawfulness. One of the partners suggested that most people don’t apply for pre-application advice before obtaining an LDC and that LDC’s are often acquired retrospectively.

It was further suggested that a common entry point for those obtaining LDC’s is through enforcement (i.e. the council suggesting they apply) — rather than through a solicitor/Local Search for a property sale. This comment led the partners to do a little digging into the data surrounding LDC’s. As you can see from Lambeth’s data below, almost 1/5th of all LDC’s received are typically issued for existing developments (retrospectively) and the majority of these are submitted by agents.

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From this data, it is useful for us to see a breakdown of who usually applies for LDC’s — whether it be an agent working on behalf of the applicant or the applicant themself. In doing so, we can build a better picture of our service users — information that will be crucial to integrate into the design of the service further down the line. Over the next sprint, the partners will be going away and gathering data from their own authorities to see if this data is common to all.

Tasks Over the Next Sprint

At the end of Workshop 9, the partners devised a list of tasks to complete over the next sprint:

· Vote on questions/metrics to include in the Customer Survey

· Add notes to the Miro board to complete the User Journey Map

· Gather and analyse data surrounding LDC’s across the partners

· Continue with User Research Testing and integrate feedback into the design of the online tool

· Continue inputting Validation requirements to the ‘Find Out if You Need Planning Permission’ service

Don’t forget that if you would like to be involved with the RIPA project and contribute through User Research Testing, then please drop us an email at digitalplanning@lambeth.gov.uk!

Next Show & Tell — 9th October 2020

Written by

We’ve made it to Beta. An MHCLG funded project, led by Lambeth with five partners — Buckinghamshire, Camden, Lewisham, Northumberland and Southwark

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