27 Jul 2018

Making plans with Hackney Council

We're building a new online home for planning applications.

Future Cities Catapult have been championing change through their Future of Planning Programme. Their aim is to develop “a programme exploring how digital innovation, urban data, and user-centred design can improve the UK planning system”.

Future plans

Back in 2017, we were lucky enough to work with Future Cities. They wanted to know what areas of the planning process needed to be transformed. In short: what were the challenges consultants, architects, and planners faced during the planning system as a whole? After conducting user research we discovered and determined 4 areas that would benefit from digital innovation:

  • Data informed planning
  • Flexible planning
  • Improving user experiences for planning applications
  • Increasing citizen influence

Guess who’s back

In December 2017, MHCLG launched an innovation fund to support joint working between high quality design and innovation.

After a design sprint exploring transforming the planning process, our friends at Hackney Council were successful in securing funding. We’re pleased to announce that Snook was brought on board, to explore the challenge area of “Improving user experiences for planning applications”. We in turn, looked towards our partners, Hactar to explore the digitisation of the planning application process.

A show and tell for the project at Hackney Council

Snook does digital

We want this to be the start of a solution. By taking a lean UX approach to the project we are hoping to tackle 2 main problems. Firstly we are aiming to improve transparency of the application process. Secondly, we are hoping we can build a platform that makes it easier for people to submit applications correctly, the first time. If we achieve this then it’s highly probable that we will reduce calls and contact to the council that are unnecessary as well as reducing invalid applications.

Overall we aim to build a digital planning service to allow users to submit, view, and comment on planning applications contributing to “a planning system fit for the 21st century.”

What’s next?

We’re at the start of our project, and are excited about the future. Follow #submitmyplan on Twitter to join us on our journey and stay up to date with how we’re progressing.

Furthermore, if you have personal experience of planning and want be involved with the co-design of this exciting platform –  please sign up for our research and testing panel.


Find out more