Scottish Government - Planning and Building Standards

Transforming how people apply for planning permission.

Services provided
  • Strategy
  • Design
  • Technology
  • Data and AI

The ask

The Scottish Government is aiming to transform how people apply for planning permission and building warrants. This is a key piece of a much larger multi-year transformation of the government's Planning and Building Standards services. The Digital Planning team is committed to a strategic overhaul to cope with increased demand for self-service planning application tools.

We were asked to reduce the number of invalid applications made by users, make better use of data in the service, and help users calculate the cost of applying and paying subsequent fees.


What we did

We undertook a discovery process with 34 planning authorities and their staff, alongside expert and non-expert users. This level of stakeholder engagement was key to managing the project in the context of the wider programme of work. We also conducted a technical investigation into third-party integrations and management portals.

Using the information gathered in discovery, we firstly co-designed a tool to help users calculate their fee, and a system to support easy online payments. We'd identified incorrect payments as being the main reason from invalid applications. We also updated guidance to better match user expectations.

Next, we built functional .NET prototypes for planning and building warrant applications. The prototypes integrate with third-party data, such as constraints like listed buildings and conservation areas, and maps from Ordnance Survey. We developed a question set that allows users to easily find out what kinds of applications they need to make. Applications are modular and data-driven: this makes them easily scalable while collecting structured, measurable data.


"Storm ID have been a trusted adviser... The output from the discovery and alpha has been excellent. The work will give the project a solid platform to build on at the next beta stage."

Results

We undertook automated quality testing of the functional prototypes alongside accessibility and usability testing. These were key to ensure a robust, inclusive experience for all users. As a public, government service, we also had a full assessment from a Digital Scotland Services Standards panel.

Following recommendations from the panel and from ourselves, the Digital Planning team intends to take the alpha service prototypes forward to beta and live, in line with its digital strategy. Through our involvement, we've become trusted partners and technical advisers to the team.

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