We're very excited to announce a major new feature on Cyclescape: integration of planning applications, which we pushed live last week after much work over the last 18 months.
Planning applications strongly affect nearby cycling conditions. A new development could cause safety issues or, more positively, provide developer funding to add nearby cycle tracks. Councils are often not attuned to these, leaving campaigners to raise them.
However, that requires awareness of planning applications in the first place. Currently, that alone means:
- finding a regular volunteer; then
- the person navigating through badly-designed council websites; then
- identifying relevant items; then
- transferring the information into e-mail; then
- determining interested people; then
- contacting people and taking things from there.
In practice, all this rarely happens because it involves much administration / IT knowledge. Consultations are missed and opportunities lost.
The feature means that group members will be able to know about a new planning application within a day of it being submitted to the council. This gives potentially an extra 6 weeks of time to study a planning application, so that the group can see:
- how it could affect cycling conditions in an area
- whether measures are needed (Section 106 / CIL funding) to mitigate any problems
- whether cycle parking is sufficient
- whether it could create opportunities such as a new route
Cambridge Cycling Campaign is the group we've been testing this with and where the work has mainly been undertaken.
This is 6 weeks of extra time to talk to the developers, and the Council, rather than deal with everything last minute - e.g. just before it goes to Planning Committee, as has happened in the past!
List of planning applications, from the 'My Cyclescape' page:
Click on 'Convert to an issue', and this pre-fills the usual issue form:
As there is no way for us to determine automatically (yet) whether a planning application is relevant - and there is a lot of irrelevant stuff like tree works - we have provided a button to enable an application to be hidden. If enough users in the group vote to hide the application, it will be hidden for all. In this way, group users can crowdsource relevant applications, and make it faster for others to work through to find relevant things.
Al this has been possible thanks to work by our contact Andrew who is working on a new planning application data portal, PlanIt (building on an earlier system by Openly Local), which we in CycleStreets are hoping to collaborate on and support formally.
Not all areas of the country are yet covered - Cambridge, featured above, has been specially funded. We'd like to thank Cambridge Sustainable City for their grant support.
Get in touch with us if you are interested to have coverage in your area in future.