This post is really a rant disguised as something a bit more thoughtful and it’s based on the idea that whether you like it or not Planning policy and a planning department’s decision will at some stage impact on you personally if you live in the UK.
We live in a democratic society and part of being a responsible citizen is taking part (or at least choosing not to!). Planning policy is important and I think most would agree with that, we might however argue on priorities.
In my view part of the local authority’s work is to educate its residents as to the rules/regulations and codes by which we are governed. Not just because they have to, but because taking people to court when they do something wrong is very expensive, time consuming and ultimately counter-productive. Surely it is in everyone’s interest to easily find out what their Local Plan is and how it applies to their property?
So I’d like you to do something for me (if you have time and patience), it’s an experiment if you live in the UK (although feel free to join in if you are based elsewhere).
- Visit your Local *Planning Authority’s website (or try Direct.gov.uk)
- Find your Local Plan’s maps (you know, the one they use to help decide on Planning Applications! Green Space ,retail only etc…)
- Now using your home or work address try and figure out what land designations apply to your land or nearby.
- If you like post the results (not necessarily the detail but whether you can or not) below as a comment.
Easy yes? Or was it a horribly confusing mess?
Okay, if you managed that go to a neighbouring authority’s website and try those steps above again? Are you still there anyone? Or have you given up?
If like me you are in the planning/architectural business the process can be time consuming and very inconsistent. Some Planning Authorities have great web mapping of their local plans, and others just have PDFs. Sometime back the planning portal was on to a great idea of hosting authority’s Local Plans as well as the text but this was abandoned. It wasn’t well implemented but they were on to something, it’s a shame Planning Authorities are no longer encouraged to improve their online presence.
So what’s been the point of this post? Well it’s really a request: can the Local Planning Authorities improve the quality of their local plan maps and clearly sign post it for users? Or better yet create a centrally managed mapping site for the UK or at minimum the regions (I know, I know they don’t exist).
There are many good reasons to do this, the present government’s push to simplify the planning process and the potential cost savings of having only one supplier of web mapping. I know there’s an issue of differing systems across the UK MapInfo vs ESRI for starters. But perhaps the centrally managed local plans site can manage these issues rather than the policy planners?
The discussion can fit in with OpenData issues as well, for instance if the Local Planning Authority’s don’t have the resources to put their local plan maps online, I could do it yes? Certainly this is what data.gov.uk is all about! Well no, because I’ve asked some of them and they’re worried about Derived Data and licensing issues in regards to their Ordnance Survey mapping bases.
So has anyone any thoughts?
UPDATE1: I found this discussion the Planning Advisory service website*Your local planning authority might not be the ones who collect your bins!