Its not Just about Putting Local Plans online, but About Making Online Local Planning Data Machine Readable

Almost all local plans now are online in some form. Many are compelling visually, such as those using Esri’s ‘story books’ feature.

But 99% of them are useless for the public, researchers or the private sector as the data is not readable.

Lets say you wanted to do a search of all sites within 30km of Swindon allocated for employment use and with planning consent and over 5Ha. The only way you could do it now is to buy services from companies that, incredibly, hand digitize everything including manually from planning registers in council receptions on laptops.

The problem is that planning data does not follow standard data formats that are machine readible. If there is a standard open source and spatially enabled format this is not a problem. The problem with the MCHLG is that it does not seem to understand open source and its transparent methods for solving problems. You will not find any website or proposal for solving the problem. Instead you have a ‘clientist’ approach like you now have in neighbourhood planning, a problem is perceived, a funding stream is set up, learning is restricted to successful bidders, little is learned apart from at the Ministry about how it did not understand the problem in the first place.

2 thoughts on “Its not Just about Putting Local Plans online, but About Making Online Local Planning Data Machine Readable

  1. I think this is unfair, or at least out of date.

    There is very much an expectation that data about land is going to be machine readable – that was part of yesterdays announcement. As I understand it, the local plan digital pilots are going to do two things – one is about policies as data, the other is about sites as data.

    From the press release:
    “Conversion of Local Plans:
    • Local Councils will test how existing local plans translate into the new system, including moving away from long text documents to an interactive map with accompanying annotation document, and the adaptation of existing site allocation policies into the proposed land categorisation format. This will help us to understand the impact of proposed land designations and associated policy implications on land allocations, inform a wide range of policies across the reform programme and help to provide evidence for our work on local plan data standards and structural templates.

    • Data standards and site selection:
    Data standards within local plans are key for increasing accessibility, transparency and improved decision-making in the planning process and wider planning sector. Local authorities are going to work, with the support of MHCLG, to develop and test data standards through the site selection process. ”

    We are still 2 or 3 years off, I expect, but we are on the way.

    • They mention standards and transparency but the standards are not transparent , improved accessibility but the standards are not accessible, improved decision making but the standard is not open. Image if any web data standard was developed this way – no one would contribute.

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