Following our 4th Show & Tell — our workshop session for that week was with our User Researcher who has just started — and with the partners we looked at the application and policy from a headline angle.

We created a RIPA Facebook page to add to our twitter and blog sites a couple of weeks ago and we hope this will help us reach more users across the council.

We touched on various issues that are common across councils. For instance, planning application descriptions. Get the description wrong, and it causes all sorts of problems that can cause repeat work and re-consultation. Sometimes descriptions are far too long. The question was posed — will the tool build out this issue? Will it break down the description into fields with a limited pre-agreed set of options / text?

Looking at the areas of policy with the partners we will need to identify what the deviations are between the councils. Amendments seemed to be an area of ambiguity — there wasn’t necessarily a legal view and it appears to be open to each council. Everyone had slightly different approaches.

Also, the approach with invalid applications — the legislation is quite vague around how an LPA should advise an applicant its reasons for invalidating the application. The that legislation is written in fairly fluffy language.

Another consideration on everyone’s minds is what the changes due in September mean for the RIPA model? And how will RIPA keep up to date with legislation anyway — agreed we needed to create a document which captures the changes — and link in with other services that provide a tool for keeping up to date with changes to legislation — such as Planning Jungle.

Next sprint for the partners will include a workshop looking at getting the validation list ready for the tool. Emily from Bucks will be leading with Lambeth looking at what is needed to make any council “RIPA Ready”.

We also want to start moving forward with first user testing on the latest iterations of the tool — at present we are still limited to Lambeth volunteers but hopeful that we will soon breakthrough with our partner Information Governance teams and gain agreement to reach out to their users. Plus, our User Researcher will be using the project Facebook site to reach out to users across the country

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