The use of Landmark`s land use constraints dataset within Scottish natural heritage


Courtesy of Landmark Information Group

Landmark Solutions, working with an urban and regional planning consultant, has developed a standardised Land Use Constraints dataset, which is supplied as polygons, points and lines.

The information is derived from the development plans published by Local Authorities and National Park Authorities across Great Britain and, to ensure consistency and ease of use, has been divided into eleven standardised Level 1 categories. Land use data for the whole of Great Britain were captured as a one-off exercise from both adopted plans and deposit plans and are now maintained on an on-going basis, as and when new plans are published.

Scottish Natural Heritage is the organisation responsible for conserving and enhancing Scotland's habitats, landscapes and species. Their key areas of work are caring for the natural world, enriching people's lives through the promotion of the benefits of the natural heritage and promoting sustainable use of natural and renewable resources.

The challenge
SNH are involved in a number of projects for planning casework and carrying out audits on the environment and settlements. Important national trends, such as changes to greenbelt, development pressures, access to cycle routes, urban greenspace and environmental justice need to be identified and analysed.

Key to obtaining a full understanding of these issues is the availability of relevant datasets and their provision to the appropriate SNH staff. It is vital that the data used has national coverage, is consistent and standard throughout, is up-to-date, is readily available and is in a digital format, which can be easily imported into SNH's GIS systems. SNH identified that the local development plans, published by local authorities, with land use designations of greenbelt, housing, industrial areas etc. were an important dataset for providing a planning context for all of their work.

The solution
In Scotland, because of the diverse nature of the country, the 32 local authorities produce over 100 local plans (although many of these are now being amalgamated) with no consistent land use designations.

For a number of years Landmark has maintained a digital version of the local plans for the whole of Great Britain. This forms a unique national dataset of Land Use Constraints, which is supplied as polygons, lines and points, with policy information attributes. This dataset, which can be imported into any standard GIS, is updated whenever new plans are published.

Most importantly, however, the many hundreds of different land use designations have been normalised into one consistent national standard of land use types. The standard includes eleven top level land use types such as housing, open environment, industry, each of which is further broken down into sub-categories before arriving at the local authority designation.

SNH were able to purchase the data for Scotland giving them a digital version of the 100 plus local plans published within their jurisdiction.

The benefits

The use of this data has allowed SNH:

  • to carry out immediate cross authority comparisons
  • to integrate the data with other important datasets
  • to identify areas where SNH designations vary from the local authority versions of the same land use
  • to track changes in land use e.g. greenbelt areas
  • as part of the analysis to output local and national statistics to'use, consistent, digital format, which is updated on
  • a regular basis
  • to predict trends
  • to distribute the data across a number of staff in SNH, confident that they are all working with the same dataset
    to be confident that they are always working with the most up-to-date data possible

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