Weeknote — 2019-09-06

This week at Digital Land

Developer Contributions

We started the week on a high with the announcement on Sunday morning of new planning rules. These are intended help local people better understand the value of development to their community. The publication included our guidance for publishing developer contributions as data.

There's still a lot more we can do to simplify the publishing process for local planning authorities, and a few wrinkles to iron out. Not least, we need to be clearer about crown copyright and open government licensing terms to ensure it is published as open data. All the same, this is the culmination of a year's work with the planning policy team and the wider community, and is something for us to celebrate.

We're now in the process of selecting local planning authorities to work with on a private beta phase, and Lorna and Helena made a form to send out to people who have shown interest in working with us.

Helping to produce an infrastructure funding statement is one of the benefits we see for local planning authorities of publishing developer contributions data. Helena and Lorna have also begun to collect hypotheses for this report, which we'll test with users, starting with our imagined user-flow, sketched out by Matt.

Digital Land Platform

Paul's sketch - showing the time it takes to make data available nationally. Shortest time is data held centrally, then locally, then data held by organisations, then finally (5-10 years) is data held by individuals.

Data standards take time to develop, and regulation takes time to enact and enforce. Paul drew a sketch to illustrate how decisions and data being devolved means it takes longer to make it available nationally. This concentrated our minds somewhat, and we're now working on exploring different ways of demonstrating value more quickly, including coping better with data as it currently exists, in different states of maturity.

Simon and Paul

Paul was particularly grateful to Simon Everest from GDS for his time with the team on Tuesday. Simon's sage advice has already helped us to think more clearly about the next steps for our platform, as we head towards the end of our alpha phase.

City of Westminster

Visiting Gog and Magog at City of London Corporation

On Monday, Paul Maltby, our Chief Digital Officer, joined Paul and Natalie on a visit to the City of London. They met with the Land Registry team to hear about their recent work with the City and the Local Land Charges Service. We explored the differences between the needs of conveyancers using the service to transact on a single property, and the needs of our PropTech users who generally need the data in bulk, and in some cases need access to the original documents, not just the data.

Compulsory Purchase Orders

CPO User Research Playback

Colm and Adam continued work on a dashboard for Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs), improving the filtering, giving users more options, based on the feedback collected from the policy team. In particular they made the queries respond more quickly. Lorna gave a feedback session on her research into users of CPOs following 13 interviews with people in acquiring authorities, practitioners and representatives of PropTech. We think this work is at a point where we can test the dashboard and our hypotheses in a lab.

Local Plans

Helena presented the findings from our recent discovery into local plans to representatives from Connected Places Catapult, the Geospatial Commission, Homes England and Planning Advisory Service. Helena's update of the project page will soon include her presentation and the findings.


Digital Land Project Kanban

We've been road-mapping and revamping our walls, so Paul made physical Kanban cards for each of our projects, including prospective projects we've prioritised and have begun to investigate.


Jess, Natalie, and Ed have been understanding the options for procuring tools to support potential future pilot projects in the department, and met with the Crown Commercial Service to learn more about Spark. Jess also had a fun visit from Antony Slumbers to share the work we've been doing and talk about innovations in the residential market.

Planning Projects

London PlanTech catch-up

Finally, Natalie and Paul visited City Hall at the invitation of Peter Kemp and Molly Strauss of the GLA for a regular catch-up where we compared notes with Connected Cities Catapult, Plan-X, and other great people working on digital planning projects in Camden, Hackney, Southwark and Westminster.