Greater London Authority (GLA)

Outcome of Expression of Interest: Invited to apply

We want to automate the London Development Database so that data required for monitoring the London Plan is entered up front by applicants, travels automatically through local authorities’ back office systems where it is verified, and to a public website with a live feed of planning application data for London.

Intended outcomes include: improving public engagement with the planning process; driving delivery of housing through live development pipeline information that enables monitoring, identification of delivery barriers, and their removal; giving utility providers foresight of development to avoid capacity issues; and stimulating economic growth by enabling SMEs to develop data-based tools.

The output will be an automated process and interactive central register of planning application data. It will provide meaningful e-notifications to involve Londoners in the planning process regardless of administrative boundaries. Straightforward analysis tools will enable the public to identify nearby developments and new affordable/accessible housing, and will support dynamic policy development.

We will conduct additional research to ensure we serve a variety of needs, lower local authority cost, and improve the quality and quantity of data.

This project has potential to scale beyond London. We have engaged other cities and regions that have expressed interest in adopting the solution.

Discovery evidence

From February to May 2018, we contacted London’s 33 local authorities and met with 26 that responded, travelling to their offices to speak with planners, development managers, monitoring officers, and ICT.

This research revealed that the monitoring process is onerous for local authorities: officers manually search for information in PDFs, then enter it (often manually) into the GLA’s web interface. This process costs approximately £750,000 for London. Back office systems do not contain fields to hold monitoring data and councils report difficulties negotiating with providers.

Data is collected inconsistently across authorities because the process is resource-intensive; there can be up to 18 months delay. Because of this and the limits to information collected, the LDD is an incomplete resource. It is also difficult for Londoners to access the data or make sense of it.

Our research identified steps to resolve these problems: adding new fields to the application submission portal; changing local validation lists to make new fields mandatory; negotiating with back-office system providers so that automation works with existing systems in the short term; setting up planning authority reporting; upgrading the GLA’s web interface to receive automated data; and developing the public-facing hub.

Discovery user research:

  • Digital leadership training (for council leaders, service managers or senior executives)
  • Introduction to delivery management
  • Introduction to digital business analysis
  • Agile for teams