Awarded to SocietyWorks

Start date: Monday 7 January 2019
Value: £88,500
Company size: SME
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)

Central Register of Planning Permissions (Discovery and Alpha)

13 Incomplete applications

9 SME, 4 large

32 Completed applications

27 SME, 5 large

Important dates

Monday 22 October 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Monday 29 October 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Monday 5 November 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is looking to conduct a discovery and alpha to explore best solutions available to aggregate residential planning application data nationwide and make that data openly available.
Latest start date
Monday 26 November 2018
Expected contract length
3 months
Organisation the work is for
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)
Budget range
Budget range for this requirement is between £70,000 - £90,000

Team composition could include: Agile Delivery Manager, User Research,
Design & amp; Content Design, Technical Architect/Developer.

It is up to suppliers to suggest how they would use the above roles within the range of budget mentioned above.

About the work

Why the work is being done
Access to reliable information on planning applications is important for the housing market to work better. Government committed to deliver a central register of residential planning applications in Autumn-Budget 2017, to improve information for users of the planning system on where planning permissions are held, and enable better monitoring of progress towards homes being built. With this discovery/alpha, MHCLG is seeking to: (discovery) develop a deeper understanding of user needs and challenges of making planning data more accessible on a national basis; and (alpha) identify solution options to create an immediate digital, open an authoritative source of planning application data.
Problem to be solved
Requirements for English local-planning-authorities is to publish specific information on planning-application-registers. This is done by different ways with data of varying quality being presented by authorities-in- different-formats. There is no single source of residential-planning application-information nationally. Data is not freely accessible in a consistent format. This creates-barriers to planning-application-data to enable creation of new-digital-services to support the planning-system and housing-market. More fundamental-future-changes to technical-data-standards and local-authority-software may enable a more sophisticated register to be developed. In short-term we are keen to explore ways where data is collected-within-current-constraints and presented in a format to build digital products or to analyse data.
Who the users are and what they need to do
The discovery will identify and validate detailed user needs. These are broadly:

As a local planning authority I need to publish planning applications for my area in a standard way that helps me to monitor permissions and build out.

As MHCLG, I need access to local authority data on planning applications to understand their geographical spread and progress against build out, to target Government interventions effectively.

As a property technology firm, I need reliable open data on planning applications to develop new services and products.

As a property developer, I need insights into planning applications nationally to find developable sites.
Early market engagement
Not applicable.
Any work that’s already been done
The Digital Land team has completed a broader discovery phase looking at the state of housing and land data. We looked at specific information needed to make decisions on where, when and whether to build, as well as how to get planning permission and scope to develop digital products that open up the marketplace. We were particularly interested in the needs of the ‘PropTech’ sector building services to benefit the housing market. We found many points of friction including data held locally in varying formats and not being available online. Data that exists is difficult to find, use and trust.
Existing team
The successful supplier will liaise with an MHCLG project manager in the Department's Digital Directorate and will be expected to work closely with the MHCLG Digital Land Services team, reporting progress into a directorate project board and established planning reform programme governance. The supplier will also be required to engage with other departmental subject matter experts including policy leads for Digital Land and the planning application process.
Current phase
Not started

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
All work will be delivered from the MHCLG office located at 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF.

Travel/expenses to the primary site in 2 Marsham Street cannot be reimbursed by MHCLG.
Working arrangements
The supplier is expected to work onsite alongside existing teams for at least 3 days a week for face-to-face meetings.

The supplier should demonstrate effective use of Agile principles and established project management approaches to enable MHCLG project manager and board to monitor progress and resolve problems.

The supplier will also be expected to work openly and allow anyone in the Department to have visibility of progress. The supplier will be expected to engage with local planning authorities, planning software/data providers, as well as land/property technology companies and potentially a cohort of house-builders/their agents who submit planning applications.
Security clearance
Team members will require CTC clearance or above whilst working on site.

Please make it clear whether staff have CTC or not when submitting your responses. BPSS clearance will also be required to access MHCLG's ICT systems.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
All materials/outputs derived from the contract shall be the property of MHCLG. GDPR requirements shall be discussed and agreed with the preferred supplier at the appropriate time.

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
  • Evidence of delivering within the Government Digital Services design standards
  • Experience of conducting user research
  • Experience of having delivered user-centred web-design
  • Evidence of meeting skill requirements based on the anticipated composition of the team
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Provide evidence of delivering similar types of projects with a similiar
  • Show experience of having delivered data management frameworks, including practical strategies and policies, for the management of data – its use and quality
  • Show experience of being successfully assessed against the Digital Service Standard
  • Show experience or understanding of the planning application system

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Approach and methodology
  • Team structure
  • Timescales to deliver the project
  • Technical solution
  • Flexible approach from supplier
Cultural fit criteria
  • Provide details (with specific examples) of where you have worked with Public Sector organisations
  • Demonstrate (with specific examples) how you work with internal
  • Demonstrate (with specific examples) how you take responsibility
  • Explain (with specific examples) how you are able to manage difficult stakeholders
Payment approach
Time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Is this assignment likely to extend beyond the 3 months (initial phase 1/Alpha)?
No – we want prospective suppliers to demonstrate how they will deliver the work in the specified time.
2. If the candidate does not have the clearance level requested, will he/she be allowed on site whilst the relevant clearance level is being processed, or does the clearance have to be obtained in the first instance, before the initial start date?
Security clearance needs to be obtained before the candidate’s start date. 2MS guidelines state that all staff, including contractors, must be cleared at CTC level or higher for regular access to the building.
Under no circumstances can staff/contractors be allowed on site whilst waiting for clearance to be confirmed.
3. If the candidate is only on site for 3 day/s, can he/she work remotely for the rest of the week?
Yes, this is fine.
4. Please could you clarify the budget of £70-£90k as this seems slightly low for a Discovery and Alpha.
We consider that the work involved is of a reasonably defined and narrow enough scope to justify the budget. We would look to prospective suppliers to give an indication of how they would propose to deliver the specification within the budget, including highlighting any potential for any limitations due to perceived budget constraints.
5. I assume the question Provide evidence of delivering similar types of projects with a similiar" is incomplete. Please can you clarify?
Yes, With apologies, the final word of this question should have read timescale. So, the whole question should read:

Provide evidence of delivering similar types of projects with a similar timescale?
6. Our team are all security cleared to BS7858 standards and all hold BPSS clearance. Will this be sufficient for our team to work onsite?
If not, will MHCLG sponsor our team through the CTC clearance process?
To work onsite, CTC clearance is the minimum requirement.

Unfortunately BPSS only covers access to our IT systems (so remote working is a possibility).

MHCLG will sponsor and cover the costs of security clearance for new staff/contractors.
7. Is there is split of Discovery and Alpha in terms of time and budget?
Awarding of the contract is contingent of the supplier committing to deliver both Discovery and Alpha. It will be for the supplier to allocate time, resource and budget within the overall envelope. There is no intention to split budget or specify constraints around the two stages.
8. Has the project started? If yes, is there any document available which can be shared
No, the project has not yet started.
9. We have implemented a national registry of housing prices in a Nordic country, and also a tool to assess suitability of city districts for families with children based on public data (housing info + prices, public transport, services). Our expert is not available to travel to London in this timeframe.
Would you be interested in
a). doing the work remotely or
b). letting us to consult you with our findings from projects above while someone else does the actual project?
We will review all proposals for delivering the advertised specification in line with the evaluation process outlined. It is for interested suppliers to explain how they intend to satisfy the specification.
10. We have developed an open data register technology built to GDS standards and specifications. Our interest is not in this specific tender (i.e. discover and alpha phase) but in being considered as one of the solutions by whoever wins this tender. Are you able to provide contact details for us to leave our details please?
This tender is for the specific piece of work described within the statement of requirements advertised on the Digital Marketplace. We cannot pre-empt the outcome of the work to be delivered or the supplier who we prefer to deliver this requirement. If you provide me with your email address by return (in response to this question), then someone will get in contact with you at the appropriate time.
11. Will the outputs from the broader discovery phase around the state of housing and land data be shared with shortlisted suppliers?
More information can be found on the link below:
12. Will the Ministry accept a consortium response where one of the consultants we will propose will be from a leading GIS company, not our own.
Yes. It is for prospective suppliers to submit their proposal for how they intend to fulfil the specification and we will consider all proposals on their merits.
13. Do you have a preferred technology stack e.g. MS.Net or Java/JavaScript?
The successful supplier may use whatever technologies that allow them to quickly develop prototypes to learn how to meet the needs of users found during the discovery phase.
14. Do you have a preferred technology stack e.g. MS.Net or Java/JavaScript?
Please see our response to Question 13.
15. Is there an incumbent supplier maintaining the data for LPAs?
Each local authority maintains its own register. There is no central repository.
16. Has an external supplier been involved in this project to date?
17. What percentage of applications are made online and what percentage through the paper route via LPAs?
We are looking for the chosen supplier to devise a proposition for the discovery to investigate the range of current approaches used across local planning authorities.
18. Are all the paper applications uploaded to the online register by the LPA?
As outlined in the description of the “Problem to be solved” – local authorities publish details of planning applications is implemented in different ways with data of varying quality being presented in different formats. The specification is to develop a deeper understanding of the current situation and to identify options for making the data more accessible.
19. Are you able to make the Digital Land team discovery outputs available to suppliers?
Please see our response to Question 11.
20. What are the estimated number of applications already in the various registers and how many new applications are made on average each year?
The government publishes quarterly statistics on the number of applications made each year.
21. In order to compare suppliers, how will price be evaluated?
This has not yet been determined or agreed with the evaluation panel as yet. However, previously, we shall ask shortlisted suppliers to provide us with a commercial proposal showing day rates and number of days for each resource required to deliver the requirement.
22. Will scoring from the evidence stage be taken through to final evaluation scoring? As opposed to being used solely for the purpose of shortlisting.
This has not yet been discussed or agreed with the Evaluation panel. However, previous experience of using the DOSS framework suggests that long-list scoring will be taken forward to the short-list stage.
23. When suppliers are asked to submit evidence, the following advice is given: "You should only provide one example for each essential or nice-to-have requirement (unless the buyer specifies otherwise)." Do you want suppliers to provide one example for each evidence answer?
Yes please.
24. Can we ask what criteria MHCLG will be using to judge whether an evidence answer 'exceeded' requirements and therefore scores full marks (3)?
This has not yet been discussed or agreed with the Evaluation panel. However, previous experience determines an exceeded response as providing added value, a specific delivered outcome and details of what benefits were achieved.
25. What is the timeline for procurement after the first stage (suppliers to providing evidence to the listed skills and experience)?
The current, provisional timeline is as follows:

Proposals sent to evaluators – Tuesday 6 November

Long-listing to shortlisting takes place – Friday 9 November

Supplier presentations – Tuesday 13 November

Final decision made – Wednesday 14 November

Assignment starts – Monday 3 December
26. You state the successful supplier will liaise with an MHCLG Project Manager, will this Project Manager be on the project full-time? What other roles are MHCLG expecting to provide?
To be confirmed – we would like to assess the scale and ambition of proposals before confirming the MHCLG resource to be devoted. There will, in any case, be access to HMCLG officials from the interested Policy and Digital teams.
27. Will this service be taken through the GDS Service Assessment?
There is likely to be a need for a GDS Service Assessment – though we do not want to pre-empt the result of the work.
28. Can you please describe the different data sources at a high level, incuding the nature of the data source in terms of terms of 1) volume 2) variety (i.e..CSV, relational database, unstructured data) 3) Velocity ( i.e. how often the data sources update, weekly batch, overnight, daily, hourly, near real-time, real time)?
Each local planning authority maintains its own planning register to record certain information in relation to each planning application. The information may be held in a variety of formats, mainly PDF files, and may include photos, plans, word documents etc. This list is not exhaustive.
29. Is there an anticipated deadline for the delivery of this register?
Please review the section on “Problem to be solved” – this work is not to deliver a register. Government will consider policy options in light of the outcome of the discovery and alpha.
30. If the budget is for both Discovery and Alpha, it seems quite low based on the anticipated roles and GDS guidance for duration of each phase. Can we ask what the budget has been based on?
Please refer to our responses for Questions 4 and 7.
31. Can you please clarify what you mean by the role 'Design and amp'?
Apologies, This is a typo. The word “amp” should not have been included.

The wording should have read:

“Design and Design Content”
32. For avoidance of doubt, is the word register being used in the context that MHCLG would expect the Central Register of Planning Permissions to be considered a peer amongst other registers detailed at
We have not formed a view on this.
33. Is the budget listed just for the Discovery phase or for both Discovery and Alpha?
Please refer to our responses to Questions 4 and 7.
34. With reference "making planning data more accessible", does this data wholly reside within MCHLG, irrespective of whether it has originally been compiled by local authorities? If not where else do these data sources reside?
The data is not held by MHCLG – it is held locally by each local planning authority in their own registers. The work to be carried out is to consider the appropriateness and feasibility of collecting data centrally and the extent of the data that might be collected. As such, the data that might be included on a central register is not yet determined.
35. With reference "making planning data more accessible", will all this data be accessible from day 1 of Discovery?
It is the objective of the work for the supplier to investigate the accessibility of the data.
36. With respect "local planning authorities publish specific information on planning application registers", although these are compiled to different levels of quality, do they attempt to record the same information categories? If not could you please describe at a high level to what degree these local authority registers diverge?
The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure)(England) Order 2015, Art 40 describes the minimum information that must be held in a Planning Register. There are no specific format requirements.
37. Is the overriding issue that needs to be solved, that the relevant data exists in abundance, but needs to be exposed in a way that is more accessible, with a consistent level of quality?
38. Is the overriding issue that needs to be solved, that data needs to be collected in a consistent way by local authorities, before a Central Register of Residential Planning can be seen as an authoritative and useful data resource for users?
Please see our response to Question 37.
39. The first nice to have skill doesn't appear to be complete, can MHCLG please elaborate?
Please see our response to Question 5.
40. Will "Nice-to-have skills and experience" used for evaluation in first round of supplier selection or is it for later stage i.e. presentation?
What is the weightage of nice-to-have skills compared to essential-skills?
Please see our response to Question 22.
41. Can you confirm does this assignment sit in-scope or out of scope of IR35?
We shall agree whether this is in or out of scope of IR35 once a preferred supplier is chosen.
42. Will MHCLG be providing a Product Owner full time during the phase of this procurement?
Please see our response to Question 26.
43. Is this opportunity outside of IR35?
Please see our response to Question 41 .
44. Is the budget listed exclusive of VAT?
Budget listed is exclusive of VAT.
45. At the end of Discovery – will there be an assessment or is there permission to go straight to Alpha?
We will expect a mechanism to review Discovery – we’d want to have a marker between the two phases rather than proceeding straight to Alpha so that we can consider options.
46. Is the expected contract length listed just for Discovery or both Discovery and Alpha?
At present, the contract length is for both Discovery and Alpha.
47. Is this procurement for both the Discovery and Alpha phases? If so, are MHCLG therefore expecting to re-procure the Beta phase after this contract?
Please refer to our response to Question 46.

Also, MHCLG will consider policy options in light of the outcome of both the discovery and alpha phases of this requirement. We cannot pre-empt the outcome of any future work to be delivered after the completion of the Discovery phase.

However, the likelihood is that the beta phase his will be re-competed on the Digital Outcomes framework.
48. What roles will MCHLG deploy during Discovery and Alpha?
It will be for the supplier to devise the programme of work to deliver the discovery and alpha, and to devote the appropriate resource from within the budget. MHCLG will provide policy support and monitor the supplier’s progress.
49. Will you mandate a single register?
We want to understand what’s the best way to get data from the existing systems and work with providers that are already there. We might want to consider, for example ‘scraping’ or sensible options for encouraging approaches from local authorities to access the available information.
50. Is there an intention to create a data standard?
This is not about the technical standards for local government – it is about how to best make planning application data available. Will be looking at what is being produced, what’s being captured; and what’s being made available – before waiting for local authorities to move to new systems or standards.
51. We’ll need to engage with the target audience – will MHCLG give us access to stakeholders?
The Department has links and will work with the supplier to identify who to engage with. Where we are looking for the supplier to take a lead is on PropTech as this sector is amorphous and we’ll want the supplier to define that engagement
52. Are you looking for a technical solution or a largely research project?
We need to know what the situation is now and to consider proposed solutions, including those that may already be available - e.g. scraping products are already available and we would not want to create a way to replicate them.
53. Does the supplier need to be in the office 3 days per week?
The supplier will need to ensure the work is aligned to other policy objectives – e.g. links to Local Digital Fund and in-house work to improve data quality and make it useful to PropTech. It will be important to have proximity but don’t want to be over officious – you tell us what works and we’ll be open and amenable.
54. Is there intention to move to Beta and Live?
Yes but depends on what the outcomes of Discovery and Alpha look like. We want to see a system that puts the data in hands of people who do digital development.
55. What information is required for our commercial responses?
At the appropriate time, we shall request this information from suppliers. Normally, we request number of days and day rates for each role suppliers shall provide to deliver the requirement. We have asked for a time and materials model, but if there are elements which are already fixed (by suppliers), these should be noted within suppliers commercial proposals.