Digital planning content  lead


Part / full time, flexible hours

When Now –12 months (initially)
Where Anywhere within UK 
Salary £40,000-45,000 (depending on the scope of your skills)
Applications open 19th August 2021
Applications close 20th September 2021

This role has now been filled, please do not apply. However, if you are interested in working with us and have relevant skills, please feel free to contact us anyway.

To apply for this role, please send a brief CV / resumé, along with some examples of other things you’ve worked on (if appropriate) to enquiries@opensystemslab.io




About the role 

We are working to transform the UK planning system for the digital era. Planning is one of the most fundamental layers of democracy, and yet our planning system is famous for being slow, opaque and inaccessible, especially to those who don’t have money or time. 

We are working to build planning services for the future, making them simpler, more transparent and more accessible. To do this, we are working with local planning authorities to build the first fully digital planning services. That means services that are easier to use but also do not require you to be an expert to navigate them successfully. They can pre-check schemes against the relevant planning legislation and policy and submit information as structured machine-readable data, instead of long, impenetrable documents.


To make that possible, we are building Plan✕, an open source platform that allows planning authorities to write, operate and collaborate on shared ‘rules as code’ planning services.

But we need someone to take the lead working with planning teams to write this new generation of planning services using Plan✕.

The services you work on will be used by many thousands of people, and will signficantly improve the way that planning works for everyone.

This is an unusual role, because it exists in the overlap between two areas. You could be a planner with a natural instinct for communication and content design, or you could be a content designer with experience of working on digital services, who has a clear, logical mind and a willingness to learn about the complexities of planning law as you go. 

What matters most of all is that you are positive, intelligent and have a genuine passion for creating user-centered public services, and want to leave planning and democracy better than you found it.





In this role you will


Work with planning teams and managers to understand their  needs and issues

This will involve doing research, interviews, workshops and group sessions to draw out tacit knowledge, as well as understanding the relevant legislation, policy and case law.
Design and write new services and content in Plan✕

You will design, write and test new digital planning services as flow charts, making them as simple as possible for users to navigate and understand. This includes translating ‘Plan-glish’ into Plain English questions, according to a content-writing guide or ‘playbook’. 

Collect, filter and make sense of user feedback

You will work with user researchers and the product team to collect user feedback, make sense of it. Sometimes this feedback will include conflicting information. Part of your job will be to see through the issues, suggest solutions.
Help onboard new planning authorities

You will help introduce new planning teams to the platform, and help guide them through the process of preparing, testing and launching their own digital services.

Maintain, update and improve digital planning services

You will continuously look for ways to improve planning services, fix issues, or keep them up-to-date with changes to policy or legislation.
Help local authorities to transform their services and practices

Digital transformation also involves pushing organisations to think and work differently. This requires building trust, explaining issues, listening, and helping them adopt new ways of working.

Help shape strategy & tactics

You’ll work closely with the product owner, design and dev team, discussing which new features we should prioritise on the roadmap. Also thinking about how we can make the solutions we build better, cheaper and easier to adopt and operate.
Train officers to use Plan✕

A key principle of Plan✕ is putting planning authorities in control of their planning services. You will help prepare training materials and hold open workshops with service maintainers to help them learn and teach each other.



Requirements for the role


Excellent English writing / content design skills

You will need to be able translate complex, nuanced planning legal concepts into plain English, following these kinds of principles. An ability to explain complex ideas is essential. 
Knowledge of the planning system (or an appetite to learn)
Any understanding of planning law and the planning system, or a willingness to learn about it. An aptitude for de-coding legal language and its particular meanings.

If you’re the sort of person who reads ‘Planning Geek’, you’re going to love this job.

Verbal communication skills,  emotional intelligence & humility

Working with people and organisations as they change requires a mix of clear-headed conviction but also the ability to explain complex ideas clearly and the empathy and humilty to listen and understand issues from different stakeholders’ perspectives. You’ll have to be naturally friendly, articulate, persuasive and build trust.

A clear, logical thinker

Writing ‘rules as code’ services also means thinking logically through the right way to structure a flowchart, or name a data field. You need to be a clear thinker with a love for structuring information in a clean, coherent way.


Rigour & attention to detail

When working with digital technology, even small syntax errors or asking things in the wrong order can cause problems. You’ll need to be willing to spend time checking and testing the services you create for loopholes or errors (don’t worry, we have a lovely team, you won’t be left to do this alone). Also rigorously making sure that every question is properly referenced back to policies or legislation, so services are fully transparent and challengable.
Self-led

Although you will work alongside the product team, you will need to take ownership of your area of work, observe, make judgements, make suggestions without needing to be instructed. Not just being reactive, but taking the initiative. That means listening for issues, spotting opportunities to improve things, then going away and making it happen. 

Comfortable chairing or guiding a conversation

You should be someone who can keep a room of five stakeholders focused on what matters; helping them keep their eyes on the prize.
Purpose-driven

You should be someone who is fundamentally motivated by  leaving the world better than you found it: who enjoys working on great, user-centered services, a better planning system, and a stronger democracy.



Nice to haves


  • Experience of working in local planning departments or in an area related to planning law.

  • Experience of working on GOV.UK-style digital service content.

  • Experience of working on digital transformation in the public sector or large organisations, with all the complexities that come with it:  helping pioneers overcome obstacles and slowly winning over sceptics.

  • Ability to use Sketchup and Adobe Illustrator (or similar)




What’s not required


  • A specific formal qualification


  • Coding skills, but an instinctive understanding of how computers and code generally work will be helpful. 




What’s in it for you


  • Work with an incredibly friendly, motivated and talented team of people in a sometimes demanding, but always kind, inclusive environment. 

  • Ridiculously flexible working. Work where you want and when you want (most of the time at least).

  • Work on stuff that matters, with potential to have a big impact on a key layer of democracy.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

–– Margaret Mead




Interested? Got questions? Get in touch︎