Weeknote — 2020-07-14

Digital land sprint notes

This sprint we’ve started the local plans beta phase, improved our platform, and started some exciting policy work.


We were joined by Caroline Cooke and Lauren Olukoya from the government policy profession, who came to shadow the team and learn more about how we work. They had sessions with Laura (Delivery Manager), Lorna (User Researcher) and Rishi (Policy), and learnt more about how policy and digital can work together in a multidisciplinary team.


Colm (Designer) worked on the Digital Land style guide, adding more components and improving the documentation and code snippets. This is a work in progress and will be regularly updated.

Heatmap component screenshot from the digital land style guide

Local plans

The team started the local plans beta phase with a kick-off workshop, and Emily (Content Designer) created web page where we can publish our work and learnings throughout the local plans beta.

Following the beta kick-off, Lorna (User Researcher) and Loic (Service Designer) ran a team session that aimed to identify what we still need to find out, so that we can create a research plan for this next stage. The research during the beta will focus on 2 strands: 1. The needs of local authorities who will provide the data 2. The needs of further user groups who may wish to use the data, that were not covered in the discovery and alpha phases

Building on the data schemas tested in alpha, Paul (Team Leader) has fine-tuned the local plan schemas for beta and published them on our website.

We are focussing on one of these schemas in particular; the development plan schema. We plan to work with local planning authorities to help them publish the information this schema asks about their local plans, so that we can build a national picture of local plan making.

Jon (Developer) has worked alongside Paul to migrate the local plan data that was collected as part of the alpha work, into the new schema specification, to test this further.

Screenshot of the local plans development plan schema

Policy and PropTech

We can’t say much about it yet, but Euan (Planning), Natalie (Policy) and Rishi (Policy) have been helping the Planning directorate with the digital aspects of the upcoming planning reform the Prime Minister announced.

Jess (PropTech) spoke with a number of PropTech companies including Yourkeys, Halo, and Occubly to understand the issues they are addressing across home buying and selling, neighbourhoods, and housing association data. She’s also been working with Euan to plan PropTech engagement around the local plans project, and supporting upcoming roundtables and events across the tech community.

We are keen to shine a light on ways that PropTech companies can help with housing market recovery, so please email Jess if you want to discuss opportunities in that space, at jessica.williamson@communities.gov.uk.