Reducing invalid planning applications (RIPA) and the Back-office planning system (BOPS)

RIPA is a collaborative project aimed at making it quicker and easier for people to submit valid planning applications. Lambeth is one of the pioneer councils at the vanguard of the Digital Planning revolution, collaboratively leading this project since 2019. During 2020, Lambeth partnered with the Back Office planning System (BOPS) project – led by Southwark Council. In 2022, the RIPA project fully aligned with the BOPS, with Lambeth now one of the key project partners as it enters its next phase.

Planning Team with partners at planning workshop
Project status: In development Cost: Approximately £2 million in total funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) Neighbourhood: Lambeth wide

Background to the projects

Almost 50 per cent of all planning applications are 'invalid' or missing key information when submitted. These need to be resubmitted or supported with by additional information, resulting in significant delays. 

The RIPA project is addressing this problem by developing a user-centred system that will simplify the complex planning application process. 

Initially the project was led by the Lambeth Council in partnership with Southwark and Buckinghamshire councils.

RIPA was first awarded (‘alpha’ stage) funding by DLUHC (formerly MHCLG) in October 2019. Lambeth has also been working to deliver BOPS since 2020, another solution which supports the day-to-day tasks involved in dealing with planning applications. BOPS is designed around the needs of planning officers who use the system on a regular basis.

Investment in RIPA and BOPS delivers on the Lambeth Digital Strategy aims of digitising land use planning processes, to facilitate investment in the borough which meets our strategic policy objectives.

What has been done so far

Following success at alpha stage, RIPA was awarded beta stage funding by DLUHC. Details here. Lambeth joined as a BOPS project partner in 2020, at its beta stage.

Where we are now

For RIPA, a tool has been developed to guide users through the application process for lawful development certificates (LDCs). LDCs are a form of planning application typically used to confirm whether work is permitted by legislation. 

A range of home-owner projects, like extensions and new driveways, can be ‘permitted development’ if they meet certain conditions. The RIPA tool allows applicants to find out whether their project is likely to comply with the rules, and what documents they will need to submit a valid application.

Another tool has also been developed: BOPS, which will allow applications received through the RIPA system to be processed.

In January 2022, DLUHC announced that eight additional councils from across the country would join the project - more details here

Lambeth continues to work collaboratively with existing partners. Next, we will work with the new partners at Bolsover District Council, North East Derbyshire District Council, London Borough of Camden, Dacorum Borough Council, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, Gloucester City Council, Medway Council and Newcastle City Council.

In future phases the project teams will look to develop functionality for applications for planning permission. This is a key challenge, as dealing with these applications depend on the local planning policies of each authority. 

How you can get involved

Both RIPA and BOPS are being delivered through agile methodology as part of an iterative process that responds to feedback from stakeholders, including applicants and planning professionals.

Continual testing with users is part of Lambeth’s  commitment to designing services that meet applicants’ needs, improve transparency and deliver value for money. 

To help us test ideas, features and the design of the project, we are keen to engage with residents and businesses

We hold regular user testing sessions where volunteers use the tool to walk-through a planning application scenario with our professional user researcher. If you are interested in volunteering for the testing service and take part – please register your interest by emailing us at

More information

To find out more about the RIPA project, please visit

To find out more about the BOPS project, please visit Back Office Planning System website.

Watch the RIPA London Borough of Lambeth award video to find out more about our project application.

Read the RIPA Beta report

Get in touch

For more information




Lambeth Town Hall