[Talk-GB] Telegraph releases Green Belt data

Jonathan Harley jon at spiffymap.net
Thu Nov 29 10:57:28 GMT 2012

On 28/11/12 20:46, Tom Chance wrote:
> On 28 November 2012 19:40, Andy Robinson <ajrlists at gmail.com 
> <mailto:ajrlists at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     Some of the area’s most certainly are not “protected” as they are
>     actively being discussed for development. 
> These are probably areas that have been de-designated, or are being 
> considered for this fate, since the Telegraph's data source was compiled.
> This points to the major flaw with importing this data - it changes 
> year to year, and we can't easily observe the changes on the ground. 
> We might spot development on green belt and so remove the designation, 
> we don't spot where new green space is designated as greenbelt. Unless 
> we had ongoing co-operation from local authorities, within a year we'd 
> be hosting a dataset that's out of date and impossible to check.

Hardly impossible, since it's public information. Green belt land is 
supposed to be "permanent", if I remember the Town and Country Planning 
Act correctly, so it should change less often than local government 
boundaries, which have no evidence on the ground at all in most places - 
yet we still maintain them in OSM.

Local authorities normally publish green belt maps as part of their 
planning statements. Unfortunately these are often in hard-to-use 
formats like PDF.

I'm not arguing for a rush to import this dataset, but it would be great 
to have this information in OSM and much easier to maintain it after 
import/tracing than to author it by hand. When I say it would be great 
to have it, in fact I believe this is a huge opportunity for OSM to play 
a vital role in local democracy. And when I say vital, I'm not exaggerating.

The Localism Act 2011 sweeps away a lot of restrictions on planning. 
There is now a thing called "neighbourhood planning" which means that 
communities - or in practice, the tiny proportion of people who take an 
interest in planning - will be able to grant planning permission where 
"they want" to see things built. It limits the powers of professional 
planners to place restrictions on what will be built where - if "the 
community" votes to allow building, it will be allowed without any 
professional input. (Sorry, I mean interference from government.)

This means that property developers will be able to "convince" just a 
few people to vote in favour of a development (you can use your 
imagination how this convincing might be accomplished) and it will go 
ahead. The only safeguard left against this will be to get enough people 
involved in the process, and that requires people to be well informed.

I had some discussions with someone at the Campaign for the Protection 
of Rural England a while ago and they sound very keen to provide tools 
to help communities understand their local geography, given these huge 
new responsibilities that we have been given. Maps are of course key to 
this. If we can present this sort of information in OSM, it could even 
become the de facto source of information for community planning activities.

Worth a shot, no?


Dr Jonathan Harley   :    Managing Director    :   SpiffyMap Ltd

md at spiffymap.com      Phone: 0845 313 8457     www.spiffymap.com
The Venture Centre, Sir William Lyons Road, Coventry CV4 7EZ, UK

More information about the Talk-GB mailing list