It’s been an inspiring few weeks at Urban Intelligence, watching many, many months of effort from multiple contributors come together. The culmination of these efforts is the realisation of one of the first main objectives of our young company — a borderless, interactive planning policy map. Perhaps, because it is was borne of our sweat and tears, we think it to be a thing of beauty. You might agree; look at all those colours!
But what is it, you ask?
It’s not just a pretty exterior – Howard’s Map has a lot more going on below the surface. The mapping interface will allow property professionals to click on a site of interest and retrieve all the relevant planning policy information associated with that site. This is the first centralised, monitored repository of planning policy information in the UK. A ‘one-stop shop’, allowing an instant indication of the planning risks and opportunities based on location.
This fully-integrated policy map is only achievable thanks to our standardised database of aggregated and digitised planning policy documents from across Greater London. A policy that has spatial significance can therefore be linked to the relevant layer on the map. The concept itself is relatively simple; it already exists in many municipalities around the world to different degrees of success (e.g. Vancouver, Victoria and Ireland)
However, within the UK Planning landscape, the implementation of such a system is not as straightforward, largely due to the complexity of the planning framework. Local planning authorities have their own methodologies, timelines and limited resources, leading to quite a patchy picture across the country.
As such, we have had to overcome a range of financial, organisational and regulatory hurdles to bring this information together. We want to continue to work with local authorities to ensure that this data is maintained in a consistent manner across the UK. This will mean that both the public and private sectors can benefit from access to the same information — a single source of truth.
And then the fun begins: having all of this information in the one place for the first time allows those interacting with it to begin to immediately add their own insight. Analysis over large geographies and jurisdictions is now possible. Holistic approaches to strategic planning will be more readily achievable. And, hopefully, as different elements of the planning system adapt to utilising this more readily accessible data, we will see the emergence of a system that can respond to changing demands more efficiently.
If you would like to discuss potential use cases or collaborations around this data, we’d be intrigued to hear your ideas. Please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Ronan O’Boyle
Ronan holds a Master of Architecture (UCD, Dublin) as well as a MSc. International Real Estate & Planning (UCL Bartlett). He previously worked with award winning architectural firms in Shanghai, Dublin and San Francisco. He leads our business development and customer relationship operations, helping to work customer feedback into the development of our products.