Library closures - 13 and 14 August 2022

Due to the extreme heat and high temperatures inside, some of our libraries will be closed on Saturday and Sunday (13 and 14 August). They include Peckham, Dulwich, John Harvard, Camberwell and Brandon. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.

Back-office Planning System (BoPS)

The Back-office Planning System project (BoPS) is a collaborative local authority project, funded by the MHCLG Local Digital Fund and led by Southwark Council and partners.

The aim of the project is to create a user-centred back-office town planning system that uses accurate, up-to-date records and data to increase efficiency across the planning application process and satisfy the needs of end users (Planning Officers).

The project objectives are to:

  1. Develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for assessing lawful development certificates, householder applications, and minor planning applications.
  2. Develop Application Programming Interfaces (API) which allow alignment with existing systems and emerging systems, including the Reducing Invalid Planning Applications (RIPA) application system.
  3. Promote widespread interest and adoption of BoPS by other local planning authorities through continuous engagement and promotion of the product.

The BoPS project is being used for to assess Lawful Development Certificate applications received via the RIPA service as of 30 June 2021. Find more information.

Interested in finding out more about the project? 
The project team is able to offer product demos to other LPAs and can also host product testing. Please contact the team for further information. 

Find more information about BoPS

Project background

Planning departments in local authorities are currently experiencing a sector-wide problem - back-end case management systems aren’t meeting the needs of the people using them.

The existing back-office systems that are used by planners to determine planning applications are complex, confusing and difficult to navigate. Significant training and workarounds are required to undertake an assessment and the systems do not link with front facing or monitoring systems.

Due to these issues, it generally costs more money for councils to determine smaller planning applications compared to larger applications, because the staff time using the existing systems is so time intensive. 

A need has therefore been identified to understand how a cross-authority, user-centered solution for providing back-end case management could unlock wider transformation of the town planning system.

What we've done so far

To begin solving this problem, Southwark Council partnered with Hackney Council, Greater London Authority and Future Cities Catapult to secure funding via the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Local Digital Fund to run an initial collaborative 8-week discovery phase across all four teams and our delivery partner Unboxed. This phase ran from February to April 2019.

The project received further funding and entered its alpha phase in October 2019. During this phase, the project partners grew to include Coventry City Council and Croydon Council. The alpha phase was completed in December 2019 and the output of this phase was a prototype BoPS system.

Where we are now

The project is currently in its beta phase, having successfully received further funding from the Local Digital Fund. This phase began in April 2020 and builds on the BoPS prototype to acheive a Minimal Viable Product (MVP), capable of being used for the assessment of live planning applications. The current project partners are MHCLG, Southwark Council, Lambeth Council, Buckinghamshire Council, and Unboxed Consultling and the project is closely alligned with the Reducing Invalid Planning Applications (RIPA) project. Private beta testing of both projects began on 30 June 2021, meaning that BoPS is currently being used as the back-office system for assessing applications received via the RIPA service.

A show and tell presentation is broadcast each fortnight to the public which showcases recent and upcoming work, system demos and feedback on user research. These presentations are the best way to keep up to date with the project. You can find out when these are going to be broadcast on the BoPS Twitter page.

You can explore the full project timeline, and further details on project funding, on the Local Digital Fund project page

Page last updated: 08 July 2021

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