4. Understanding users & stakeholders


This service pattern has to work for two main groups of people. Users (people applying for planning permission through a planning service) and also stakeholders (for example, planning officers, who receive these applications). Only these stakeholders can determine what information is needed to determine a planning application, and therefore whether it really is possible to achieve this transformation from documents to data.

Users



Applicants

People looking to apply for planning permission. This includes professional developers, businesses and private homeowners.

Agents

Professionals working for applicants, such as architects, design and build companies or planning consultants.

Customer service staff

Council helpline or helpdesk staff who may sometimes submit an application on an applicant’s behalf, either by telephone or in person. 



Stakeholders



Planning case officers

Planning professionals working within the planning department, receiving and processing planning enquiries and applications.

Planning consultees

Planning professionals working within the planning department or other areas of government with expertise in a particular area (eg heritage), who will input into the assessment of a planning application.

Managers

Senior managers running planning departments.


Data register maintainers

Teams maintaining and publishing national and local data registers such as GIS spatial policy maps, a National Planning Register, the Local Land Charges Database, the Local Land and Property Gazeteer and the London Development Database

Gov planning agencies

Parts of central government with responsibility for / oversight of planning and development control, such as the Planning Directorate and the Planning Advisory Service



User research


Some excellent discovery-stage user research for planning submissions services was carried out by Snook for Hackney Council, and can be found here.


User stories



As an applicant I want to clearly see what information is required so I can avoid my application being rejected

As an applicant I want to complete the whole process in one place so I can avoid hunting around multiple websites and documents

As an applicant I want to be able to leave and come back to my application so I can complete it over multiple sessions

As an applicant I want to be kept up to date about the progress of my application so I know it is being processed

As an applicant I want to be able to share the application with my agent  so they can do some of the work for me

As an applicant I want to be able to see anything my agent has filled in on my behalf so I can check that it’s correct

As an applicant I want to spend the least possible amount of time submitting an application so I can get on with my life

As an applicant I want to be able to do some or all of the work myself so I’m not paying my agent to do something I could do

As an applicant I want to use the same login I use for other council services  so I don’t have to remember multiple passwords

As an applicant I want to see where my proposal can better meet policy so I can avoid my application for planning permission being refused (not in alpha scope)

As an agent I want to manage multiple applications at once so I can see all my live applications for all my clients

As an agent I want to be able to share the application with my client so they can fill in the information that they know, instead of me having to ask them

As an agent I want to process any requests for further information as part of the same original application so I can keep track of applications more easily (not in alpha scope)

As an agent I want to the process and requirements to be as standardised as possible across all councils so I don’t have to relearn the process every time

As a customer service agent I want to be able to access and view a customer’s applications so I can complete an application if they have already started it

Process Map


A map of the planning process today, noting key tasks and pain points. 



 You can view and comment on the original live, working diagram here
Mark