Awarded to We Are Snook Ltd

Start date: Wednesday 23 May 2018
Value: £192,400
Company size: SME
Hackney Council

Develop a digital service to enable users to submit, view and comment on a Planning Application

11 Incomplete applications

7 SME, 4 large

21 Completed applications

17 SME, 4 large

Important dates

Thursday 22 March 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 29 March 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 5 April 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
We want to create the minimum viable proposition for a digital service to enable users to submit, view and comment on a planning application. This is to be a step change in order to reduce the current demand failure and improve public engagement with the planning process.
Latest start date
Monday 30 April 2018
Expected contract length
2 years
Organisation the work is for
Hackney Council
Budget range
£180-200,000 exc VAT for the project, followed by support and maintenance costs for the live service (estimated at £10-25,000 per annum).

About the work

Why the work is being done
Hackney Council identified, in consultation with its residents and businesses, that the current planning application process falls short of being a digital service ‘so good, people prefer to use it’.

Research resulting from a digital design sprint validated the need for:
- An intuitive and accessible interface to help applicants self-serve and improve submission quality.
- Improved process visibility to make it easier for proposals to evolve and amendments to be made during the course of the application.
- Significantly improve engagement between applicants, planning departments and the local community, resulting in better quality applications and more effective development management.
Problem to be solved
- There is insufficient progress tracking resulting in a significant amount of failure demand
- Planning Portal hold national policies and without local policy guidance coupled with loose process controls and guidance many applications are arriving incomplete, inaccurate and unstructured data
- Poor website usability and use of Planning terminology is making it difficult for the public to easily finding relevant applications and engage in the consultation process
- The use of old technology such as pdf’s for viewing applications does not lend itself to helping the public understand the impact of developments.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As an Applicant, I need to submit an application so that it can be processed and a Planning decision made.
As an Applicant, I need to view an application so that I can track progress.
As an Applicant, I need to validate my application against local requirements. to improve the chances of it first time registration.
As a Citizen or Consultee, I need to view an application and associated documents so that I can understand the development impact.
As a Citizen or Consultee, I need to comment on an application as part of the statutory consultation and community engagement processes.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Hackney Council worked in partnership with Future Cities Catapult and the Boroughs of Southwark and Camden in a digital design sprint. The Sprint identified clear challenges experienced and shared by applicants, citizens and planners nationwide.

Two prototypes were developed and demonstrated to an audience of Planning and digital experts. More information is available:
Existing team
Head of Service
Product Owner
Delivery Manager
Subject Matter Experts representing Hackney, Camden and Southwark Planning departments responsible for delivering improvements to working practices within their teams
Other in-house expertise can be drawn upon:
.NET developers, with expertise in developing API integrations
Delivery Manager
User Researcher
Current phase
Not started

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Hackney Service Centre, 1 Hillman Street, E8
Working arrangements
We would like the work to be conducted as openly as possible, involving local authorities (via video) and MHCLG in Agile ceremonies, where possible. Therefore, whilst time onsite in Hackney would be beneficial, visits to other local authorities and Future Cities Catapult would also help.
Security clearance

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Provide a multi-disciplinary team, including user research, service design, front-end and back-end developers
  • Demonstrate a track-record of user-centred design and Agile approaches
  • Have delivered a service that’s been assessed against a government service standard
  • Demonstrate experience designing services for a wide range of digital skills and confidence
  • Share their work freely and openly with the Council and the wider community
  • Be able to build or design a tool that’s so good, people prefer to use it
  • Show how it can support development of REST APIs to Hackney’s standards
  • Experience of developing design patterns that can be re-used for other services
  • Be agnostic of any particular software, enabling us to consider a range of options to meet user needs
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience of working with apprentices - ideally from Hackney
  • Knowledge of the planning system
  • Experience of working in collaboration with a number of different organisations

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Understanding of user needs from the service
  • Clarity of the approach
  • Experience from a similar project
  • Team structure, including skills, experiences and relevance of individuals
  • Identification of risks and plan to mitigate them
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team with our organisation and other suppliers
  • Be transparent and collaborative when making decisions
  • Share knowledge and experience with team members and the wider service
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
Written proposal
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Is their flexibility on suppliers working remotely, only going to Hackney for relevant, occasional meetings?
Yes. We believe that there are significant benefits achieved through a co-located team. But given the range of bodies interested in this, attendance in Hackney is necessary but not sufficient. We’d also encourage identifying a place where multiple partners can meet for key ceremonies.
2. Is there a technology stack selected ? Are you happy for suppliers to make decisions on this ?
No technology stack has been selected. We would expect to make this decision, on advice from the partner and in consultation with the MHCLG and other local authorities. Therefore, we’d expect it to:
- be scaleable and affordable for other local authorities to adopt
- meet the government Technology Code of Practice
- meet open data standards
- be interoperable with other government as a platform products
3. What level of service agreement is anticipated following project completion?
We don’t know enough about this yet to give useful guidance, hence the significant budget range proposed.
4. I know you have already stated no technology stack has been selected, but given your existing team is .Net developers, are you like to be favouring a Microsoft solution or would you seriously consider other Linux-based options such as Java or PHP?
We’re open to different solutions. Our current approach has been to develop APIs in .NET to integrate with legacy applications and feed into front-ends developed in Ruby on Rails for high volume, resident facing opportunities .
5. Is there any documentation available to describe the current API's?
The documentation is at
6. Is there a full list of stakeholders to be engaged?
Not currently - but we would expect to take primary responsibility for stakeholder management
7. What are the systems you assume this service to be integrated with?
Local authorities typically run idox or Northgate's M3 to manage planning applications, although we are aware of newer entrants (Arcus, Tascomi). A full list of vendors can be found on G-Cloud.
8. Is a data migration from the existing to the new system (applications, documents, comments etc) within scope of this project/budget?
9. Will all documentation be digitally uploaded and if so, what file types are you expecting the system to accommodate?
Yes - probably PDFs, though this assumption will need to be validated
10. Reviewing the work on the prototype, it appears that the design is mobile only. Will the MVP also follow a mobile only design or will there be a need for a cross platform solution.
The solution should be designed for mobiles first, but will need to work on any device.
11. Can you clarify what is meant by Minimal Viable Proposition, is this different from Minimal Viable Product?
No - we should have written ‘minimum viable product’