London Borough of Southwark

Outcome of Expression of Interest: Invited to apply

The National Planning Policy Framework requires that new developments provide a minimum of 35% affordable housing ‘subject to viability’. Viability assessments can be a source of disagreement between developers and councils, particularly around the calculation of viability.

We intend to address the fact that the data provided by developers during an assessment is not provided in a timely fashion or a standardised format and that the rules are open to interpretation. Initial discovery research has identified the need for

  • standardising the collection of data which forms the viability assessments
  • building intelligence around that data, and data available from other sources for bench-marking, to create greater clarity for developers and councils in assessing viability
  • speeding up the assessment process and reducing reliance on consultants

Following on from the discovery phase, we wish to start the development of a user centered tool to address the identified problems. It is expected that the outcome will not only make the process more open and transparent to all stakeholders and the public, but will also have benefits to developers, especially the smaller end of industry.

Discovery evidence

The discovery phase of the work was conducted in Spring 2017 by Encraft. In order to inform the discovery and gather user experience, stakeholder research was undertaken with viability consultants, housing advocates, planning officers from both rural and urban areas, and representatives from registered social landlords.

The conclusion was that a number of steps need to be taken in order to arrive at a position where data can provide evidence for viability assumptions. The recommendations made by the discovery were

  • Create a common schema for application data.
  • Create list of approved benchmark sources.
  • Build a planning viability submission platform.

The proposed service would provide clearly documented APIs and would sit with in the ecosystem of digital tools being developed by authorities. This cross-authority solution would be a crucial element in unlocking wider transformation of the planning system.

  • Digital leadership training (for council leaders, service managers or senior executives)
  • Digital and agile awareness
  • Introduction to user research
  • Introduction to service design
  • Introduction to delivery management
  • Introduction to product management
  • Agile for teams