Awarded to Unboxed Consulting Ltd

Start date: Friday 8 February 2019
Value: £77,400
Company size: SME
London Borough of Southwark and partners

We want to carry out a discovery phase to for a user-centered back office (town) planning system

9 Incomplete applications

7 SME, 2 large

17 Completed applications

15 SME, 2 large

Important dates

Wednesday 19 December 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 26 December 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 2 January 2019 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
We want to carry out a discovery phase to create a digital service for a user centered back office system, which will unlock transformation in the planning process.
Latest start date
Monday 21 January 2019
Expected contract length
8-10 weeks
Organisation the work is for
London Borough of Southwark and partners
Budget range

About the work

Why the work is being done
Authorities lack a user-centered solution providing back-end case management, transactional functions and database necessary to manage a Planning service. We want to understand how a cross-authority solution could unlock wider transformation of the planning system
Problem to be solved
Planning services are dependent on proprietary solutions that are developing slowly and resistant to interoperability. The market is
dominated by just two providers. This software does not meet the aspirations set out in the Local Digital Declaration.

The commercial incentives to support innovation are low. The practical problems associated with poor quality software create challenges for the effective administration of the national planning system.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As an applicant- I need to have clarity on the data and information required for submission, so that I can reduce cost and delay in the development process

As a planning officer I need to be able to assess a range of data, from a variety of sources, to make the right decision

Local and national government needs to accurately collect and collate a range of standardised data from all authorities

As a resident I need to be able to see the level of development in my local area, and have confidence that it is the right development
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
The project builds on existing work by Hackney and Southwark ( to validate the common and widespread need to solve problems of digital pre-application, digital applications (minor) and consultation from a front end user perspective. Both authorities have already demonstrated significant commitment to working openly in a way that benefits the whole sector.

The GLA is creating a ‘live hub’ of planning and development information (, accessible to all, by reforming the information they collect and the way they collect it. As a partner they will ensure that the outputs are aligned with other changes in the London planning ecosystem.
Existing team
1x Delivery manager
1x Project manager at each authority
1x User researcher at Hackney
1x Business analyst at Southwark
1x Head of Service at each authority
Individuals from Future Cities Catapult
Current phase
Not started

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
160 Tooley Street, SE1 2QH and other appropriate locations
Working arrangements
The work should be conducted in a collaborative and open way, working closely in a joint team with council officers, partners and interested stakeholders.
Security clearance

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
In addition to regular blogs and pipeline updates through the discovery phase, outputs will be published for the wider community to share the findings, stimulate debate and ensure that any progression to alpha will meet common needs across planning authorities.

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, and delivery management
  • Have experience of working to the GDS service design manual
  • Demonstrate a track-record of user-centred design and Agile approaches
  • Have delivered a service that has been assessed against the Local Government Digital Service Standard or government service standard
  • Demonstrate experience designing services for a wide range of digital skills and confidence
  • Share their work freely and openly with the partner organisations and the wider community
  • Experience of developing design patterns that can be re-used by organisations
  • Experience of integrating disparate data sources and validating the feasibility of doing so
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the planning system and other relevant services
  • Evidence work on similar projects with multiple partners

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Approach and methodology
  • Team's experience of working together
  • End of phase report, including user research findings, assumptions, benefits / business case, scalability, hypotheses
  • How do you offer value for money
  • Added value
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team with our organisation, partners and other suppliers
  • Be transparent and collaborative when making decisions
  • Share knowledge and experience with other team members
  • Can work with clients with low technical expertise
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
Written proposal
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Can you please clarify how you see this work building on the PlanX work mentioned?
The PlanX work has been focused front end application - more efficiently enabling submission. This discovery will look at the back end application - what happens to that application once received by the local planning authority. Therefore, both pieces of work are separate, but linked by their very nature. The successful candidate must be willing to work with and integrate the PlanX application.
2. We notice you are a partner on the MHCLG local digital funded GLA Development Data Automation project which is yet to be published. Can you please clarify how these projects are related and to what extent this is a separate piece of work?
The two pieces of work are separate, but by their very nature are closely linked. This discovery focuses on what happens to a planning application once it has been submitted to the local authority. The GLA work focuses on sourcing relevant data and information from all london planning authorities. Therefore, any back office system must be able to feed the required data along the chain, from applicant and on through to the GLA.
3. Is your intention for this discovery to look at the whole end to end town planning process, or will it be limited to the administrative functions performed by council officers?
The work will obviously need to demonstrate an awareness of the entire town planning process, but, at this stage, the focus will be on the back office function of processing and deciding applications. There are a number of other applications which are being developed and look at the processes either side of local planning authority's role. Therefore, the successful candidate will need to be aware of these and able to facilitate integration.