Duration: 8-weeks (October - December 2019)
Following the completion of the discovery phase, the project was awarded further MHCLG funding, enabling the team to continue into the alpha phase.
During the Alpha phase, the team prioritised a focus on building a product to support the ‘assessment and recommendation’ of applications, with our main users being planning officers and planning managers.
Activities across the alpha phase included:
Prototyping and testing — creating prototypes based on user needs (identified through discovery), contextual user testing sessions with individuals across planning teams and gathering feedback based on usability
Prototype iteration — forming user feedback into tangible iteration recommendations, iterating our prototypes based on received feedback, and carrying out further rounds of user testing with planning teams to validate prototype changes
Technical exploration — exploring the wider planning application system across all emerging services, and integrating with Hackney Council’s ‘Submit my Planning Application’ system to pull planning application data into a technical prototype
Business case definition — analysing costs and benefits of the project, modelling a system rollout across local authorities, and deriving value for money
As part of alpha phase user testing, the team carried out:
- 30 x back-office prototype testing sessions with planning team staff
- 2 x reviews of as-is process maps developed by partner local authorities
- 3 x planning application process shadowing sessions
The team engaged with 14 local authorities:
- 7 x London borough councils: Croydon, Greenwich, Islington, Lambeth, Redbridge, Southwark, Waltham Forest
- 4 x city councils: Coventry, Edinburgh, Leeds, Sheffield
- 3 x district councils in rural areas: Braintree, North West Leicestershire, Wycombe
To conclude the alpha phase, the team tested and validated four prototypes:
- Assessment and review (for Planning Officers)
- Assessment and review (for Planning Managers)
- Planning application API integration
See the full alpha report here.