Number Three

Project Team RIPA
4 min readJun 19, 2020


Blogs one and two from our Show & Tell looked back at Alpha and forward to Beta. Our final section of the Kick off (and final blog of that session) was looking around and seeing what would become our first sprint…..

First off — a welcome to our Northumberland partners. They will be getting their validation and IT teams involved and of the 500 (five hundred) or so average applications they receive each month — 45–50% of those are submitted invalid. The problem is therefore a major issue for them. Their interest in the project is high.

Next — agreed a recap of our focus —to remain with Householder categorized applications (Apply for Planning Permission (for householders))

The Southwark/Unboxed project BoPs (Back Office Planning System) is focusing on Apply for Certificate of Lawfulness for their project, we discussed that since this service is basically a stripped-down version of the Apply for Planning Permission service, plus the Find Out If You Need Planning Permission Service (which OSL are developing in the form of PlanX) we could use the same components to build that service too along the way, without much difficulty.

The consensus was this is probably worth doing so that there can be a working all-the-way-through MVP (minimum viable product), from RIPA through to BoPs.

We discussed that we will need to try to create six domains, six services and think about what the council partners can usefully add to this. For now, all the domains will run the same service pattern. Later during Beta, it will be an opportunity to test out authority to authority nuances.

And so to The Beta Plan….


The Alpha phase was general development and design work.

Lots of the user feedback has been carried over from Alpha — now there are specific features and aspects that need overcoming.

We need to think about it as a service pattern, as a kind of a shareable receipt — software machine that can provide that service.

What we need to do is build the software and put on GitHub and that’s it. Over to others to take it and run with it. Whilst we’re developing RIPA to run on Plan X it’s also being developed to run on any platform — we don’t want to inadvertently become the an accidental monopoly!

For kick off we worked with a diagram that broke the service down into menu block components — these are the blocks that get put together to make the service.

Many are common things — for example The Question and Text boxes are both really common — others will be more specific and unique to RIPA.

These are the jigsaw pieces that need considering. The plan will be to hold sprints specifically focused on one or two pieces at a time.

Each sprint will involve not just development work, but design work, stakeholder concerns, user input.

Taking Upload for example. Upload seems a simple thing– but there are lots of nuances and policies behind it, such as file limits, format limits and so on. Each one of these requires attention in terms of design, the underlying ‘politics’ and how it meshes with the stakeholders and needs of users.

We know that some things will also have legal aspects, e.g. GDPR, or property mapping and ordnance survey.

For example considering the legal / legislative requirements — we know that when talking about inviting users to submit a boundary — so that they don’t need to submit a pdf — but instead can submit a red line boundary which can be imposed on the OS element, it will need to meet the legal definition of what is required by planning legislation in terms of showing a boundary.

There are also recent developments that will help the project. The Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) has now become the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA), allowing better access to mapping data through APIs, along with better documentation. In addition, all UPRNs (Unique Property Reference Numbers that identify a specific property) have been released. This can be incorporated into what we develop. Council back office systems need a valid UPRN for the address — so for some councils this will be key to a valid application where it relies on UPRN’s for applications.

Our main sprint tasks for now will be to:

  • Spend time thinking about / working up an engagement strategy to get the interest of other councils
  • Prepare an adoption strategy
  • Review / update the Required information scheme for next sprint
  • Finalize the User Research recruitment — we’ve our candidates and sorted the questions — just the interview set ups to go.

We know that the user research first phase can be quite an intensive time. There will be lots to do before testing can commence. The prepping type work — such as drawing up screeners and information sheets, developing the tools that will allow us to monitor the types of volunteers we get onboard, and, working out how to do virtual testing will be key to this prep.



Project Team RIPA

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