6 April 2021

Sally Herbert is the Business Management Partner at Newcastle City Council.

All good things must come to an end. After eight weeks we’re finishing our discovery with Newcastle City Council (NCC). This work has been supporting the digital transformation of NCC’s planning service in response to the government’s recent Planning White Paper.

Newcastle is keen to engage widely and be open about the work it is doing. All our show and tells have been open, and we held our final one on Friday 19th March.

Our final show and tell

The big event in this sprint was our final show and tell. This was the project's chance to feedback to everyone who’s interested in what we’ve done, while getting their thoughts on our recommendations and insights. It was also an opportunity to identify anything we might have missed.

We extended the session by 30 minutes so we could have a series of guest speakers. We had over 40 participants and some great audience interaction and questions after the presentations.

We had four guest speakers who talked about digital planning and relevant projects that inspired the audience, showing them what digital change in this space looks like. Our speakers were:

You can watch the whole show and tell and look through the slides from our final show and tell.

Leaving behind a legacy

This was our last sprint, so the majority of the team's time was spent on drafting the final outputs. We also analysed the results of the digital maturity survey and plotted this against the ratings we developed.

An image explaining the different types of research we did with Newcastle.

From research to insights

Our recent focus has been on turning user research into specific insights that can be used to describe specific actions (opportunities), then addressing the challenge highlighted by the insight.

Text describing four insights from the research with NCC.

With these four insights and the responses to the digital maturity questions (alongside conversations with stakeholders and the planning managers), we developed a set of opportunities for NCC.

The five opportunity areas are:

  • local plan production, including evidence base
  • pre-app service design
  • creating a more sustainable approach to validation
  • reviewing public planning information to improve accessibility and reduce demand
  • geospatial data and tools

The final report will go into more detail on each of these, providing NCC with examples they can refer to and the next steps to start implementing the ideas.

We’re also exploring how we can support NCC in prioritising these ideas. Recognising the ‘quick wins’ or highest priority areas, and what the more medium and longer-term areas are.

New ways of working

Working as a blended team with NCC has meant we’ve been learning together, giving council teams the tools and support they need to take this work forward. Now with experience in user research, synthesising findings and working in a more agile, iterative way, NCC can continue working as part of a team that’s delivering real value to their citizens.

To build on this collaborative approach, we’ve also developed a set of resources and tools that NCC can continue to use once our work together comes to an end. Ranging from best practice around agile and different ways of working through to service design resources and content design guidelines.

We hope this will provide a useful set of tools to give the NCC team a kick-start as they continue the work of transforming their planning services.

Find out more...

Get in touch

We’re always happy to answer any questions you have about FutureGov and discuss how we can work together.

Contact us