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7B_4_planning alerts for community maps

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Session 7B, Paper 4

Session 7B, Paper 4

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  • Importance of Web GIS (1) Web GIS can also be used as a tool to encourage public participation and capture Voluntary Geographic Information Report graffiti of fly-tipping in your area Objections to planning applications Upload photos of an area Community Mapping Local Events relating to environmental or sustainability issues are of particular interest
  • air quality management areas  allotments  area consultative forum boundaries  CCTV locations  controlled parking zones  council offices  cycle routes  historical industrial sites  libraries  one stop shops  parking permit wembley event days  parks and open spaces  parliamentary constituencies  planning applications  polling districts  public rights of way  schools  school catchment areas  streetcare management areas  streets  tube and rail  ward boundaries
  • Notifications can be given by site display for no less than 21 days, by advertisement in a newspaper circulating in the locality, or through an individual notification letter. Anyone can comment on a planning application.
  • In the Town and Country Planning Order 1995, “adjoining owner or occupier” is defined as “any owner or occupier of any land adjoining the land to which the application relates
  • In the Town and Country Planning Order 1995, “adjoining owner or occupier” is defined as “any owner or occupier of any land adjoining the land to which the application relates This concern is supported by a real planning application case which is found on the Planning Register of Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea as presented below.   The application was for the change of use of a ground/upper basement floor from retail to banking facility. Planning permission was granted under delegated power on April 29, 2009. As recorded on the Delegated Report and Neighbour Notification List, 28 addresses were notified of the proposal by individual notification letters. No site or advertisement notification was given (Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, 2009). Figure xx illustrates the application site (within yellow rectangle) and actual notified areas (within red rectangles). It can be observed that only owners of properties adjoining the application site were notified as required by statutory order. However, the proposed application not only had significant impact on these notified neighbours, but also people living in its locality. People living within the circle with a 80 meters radius (Figure xx) might use and rely on the retail shop frequently, and the change of use might affect their everyday life greatly so they might object to the change. Nonetheless, most of them were not even aware of the proposed development simply because their properties were not “adjoin to” the proposed site. The example given above does not seem to be rare in the real world. Many proposed planning applications have influence on a much wider area than adjoining land. Consequently, amendment on existing statutory order or another means which could ensure all the relevant people getting notified of a proposed planning application is crucial.
  • If an applicant is not happy with the planning authority’s decision towards his or her planning application, the applicant can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against the local decision. The applicant has to make an appeal within 6 months from the decision date, or in the cases of non-determination, the end of decision period (Planning Aid, 2006a). The people who commented on an initial planning application will be notified automatically of any appeal, and their original comments will be passed over to the Planning Inspectorate by their local planning authority. Any third party can comment on an appeal within 6 weeks from the date when the appeal has been accepted. The Inspector will judge whether the application is in line with the policies on national and local level, and whether there are any other planning considerations why the proposal should be approved (Planning Aid, 2006a).   If people have concern about the council’s decision to approve their neighbour’s planning application, they can alternatively make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. People should make their complaint to the Ombudsman within 12 months of determining that the council has made wrong decision. Planning Inspectorate is a national level authority and part of the Department for Communities and Local Government.   Even though there are many corrective actions that the Ombudsman can suggest to compensate for the complainer’ loss, the Ombudsman cannot force the council to neither turn over the planning decision nor tear down the development (Local Government Ombudsman, 2009a). On the contrary, making valid comments within local planning authority’s consultation period could exert their influence on the decision-making process instantly.


  • 1.
    • Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Yang Liu, Claire Ellul, Muki Haklay
    • Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
    • University College London
    • [email_address]
  • 2. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Overview
      • Introduction to the Community Maps Project
      • Why Planning Alerts?
      • Integrating Planning Alerts and Community Maps
      • Further Work
  • 3. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Empowering Communities
      • UK Government published a White Paper in July 2008 – Communities in Control – Real people, real power
      • Key aims:
        • Promoting local democracy
        • Involving local people in key decisions
        • Increase the power of residents to influence change in their area
        • Address (in part) issues such as social exclusion
  • 4. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Importance of Web GIS (2)
      • Most Local Authorities in the UK support some form of Web GIS on their websites
      • Aims of these Web GIS vary, but they include maps of:
        • Planning applications
        • Property information
        • Locate Council facilities
        • Leisure facilities and parks
  • 5. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • However, information:
      • May be located on multiple web sites
      • May not all be of interest/relevance to a community
    • Community Maps
      • Aim was to develop Web-GIS to:
        • Promote local democracy?
        • Involve ALL local people in key decisions?
        • Provide communities with information about what is happening locally
        • Allow them to monitor and participate in change in their area
  • 6. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Community Maps
      • Maps act as a ‘one-stop shop’
      • Maintained by the community for the community
      • Show information of interest to the community
      • Started out by adding data manually
      • However, we also wanted to explore publically available sources of information
        • Here we focus on planning, which is a topic of great interest to our communities
  • 7. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Focus on Planning Applications
      • Information is of direct relevance to local communities, in particular when large projects are being proposed for a neighbourhood
        • May impact the urban architecture of an area
        • May impact the residents due to increased works traffic
        • May lead to reduced parking availability, loss of local green space and other amenities
      • Therefore community groups usually welcome an opportunity to comment on any planning applications
  • 8. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
  • 9. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • The Problem with the Current Process (1)
      • It is easy for local residents not to be aware of the planning application
        • There is no statutory obligation for the LPAs to notify citizens living in a property that does not adjoin the application site.
        • Even residents of adjoining sites may not come across the site notice or local advertisement regarding a planning application and will therefore be denied the opportunity to make a representation.
  • 10. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
  • 11. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • The Problem with the Current Process (2)
      • In theory, 21 days to make a comment/objection
      • This can then be taken into account by planners
      • It is not possible for a third party to appeal against a local planning authority’s decision in England.
      • If an application is approved, the only appeals process for third parties is through the Local Government Ombudsman within 12 months
      • the Ombudsman cannot force the council to turn over the planning decision or tear down the development
  • 12. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Planning Alerts (planningalerts.com)
      • Launched at the end of 2006
      • Hosts planning application data sourced from the official websites of 321 local authorities out of 468 in the UK.
      • Planning Alerts allows users to sign up for email alerts detailing planning applications in their neighbourhood
      • Provides access to the hosted planning application data via Application Programming Interface (API).
  • 13. Planning Alerts for Community Maps Number of new ‘Alerts’ for Greater London (M25) over a 1-week period in July 2009
  • 14. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Integrating Planning Alerts and Community Maps
      • Planning Alerts data is provided in the form of a geographic Really Simple Syndication (geoRSS) feed,
      • Data published as XML
      • Can be queried on a daily basis by Community Maps and placed on our map as points
        • Works well with our ‘one-stop-shop’ approach for the community maps
  • 15. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Information about the Application includes:
      • The address of the proposed site
      • The description of the development
      • The publication date of the application
      • The unique ID of the application
      • The link to the application record on the LPA’s website
      • The link to make comment on the LPA’s website
  • 16. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
  • 17. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Notifying Interested Parties (1)
      • Users can subscribe to an e-mail alerts service
        • Using a postcode and a given radius
      • This is similar to the Planning Alerts website, but builds into the Community Maps ‘one-stop-shop’ approach
  • 18. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Notifying Interested Parties (2)
      • However, we wanted to try to overcome the digital divide caused by:
        • Lack of internet/broadband access required to access the data
        • Lack of web skills and web-GIS skills required to locate the data on the internet
      • Therefore, we also have an SMS-based system that groups or individuals can subscribe to
        • 92% of UK adults (15+) own a mobile phone
        • 65% of the UK adults (15+) have access to broadband internet
  • 19. Planning Alerts for Community Maps http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_RHJCq8Jes1s/SnqMwJSq32I/AAAAAAAAAyQ/zbXVsgtGDJ8/s1600-h/UKLevels.png
  • 20. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
  • 21. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Benefit to Communities
      • Automated upload of information (to date, most community information has been manually captured)
      • Fits with the one-stop-shop aim of the map
      • Multiple mechanisms to disseminate information
      • Greater possibility of being notified about developments in a reasonable time-scale, even if not in adjacent property
  • 22. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • OS Open Data Initiative
      • Planning Alerts service is currently suspended due to postcode copyright issues
      • However, the Planning Alerts service is a very good example of real benefits obtained from freely sharing datasets
        • Service (geocoding) underpinned by the postcode dataset
        • Planning data in public domain, but not necessarily very usable due to presentation on Local Authority Websites
        • Postcode “CodePoint” dataset is now available under the Ordnance Survey “Open Data” arrangement
  • 23. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Future Developments
      • Community Maps forms part of Mapping for Change, a social enterprise set up “
        • to help voluntary organisations, local authorities, developers and communities understand and change the places we live in”
      • Need to investigate the funding issues
        • Who pays for the SMS alerts?
        • Will users be willing to subscribe?
      • Also need to work on filtering out applications of less relevance to the subscriber
        • E.g. ‘Changing windows to double-glazing’ versus ‘building a 10-storey block of flats’
  • 24. Planning Alerts for Community Maps
    • Thank You
    • www.mappingforchange.org.uk
    • communitymaps.org.uk