Weeknote — 2020-11-10

Digital land sprint notes

The main focus for this sprint has been around building a way to collect conservation areas and speaking with local planning authorities to help test our local plans schema.

Conservation areas

We’ve collected the conservation area geographies for around 60 local planning authorities. As mentioned in previous week notes we’ve extended our data pipeline to allow us to create a consistent .CSV collection and over the course of the next sprint we’re aiming to publish the data we’ve collected on the digital land website.

Local Plans

Loic has been leading a round of research looking at local plans data and helping test our proposed specification. So far we’ve spoken with three local planning authorities who helped us test some of our assumptions and have further conversations lined up for next week. Based on what we’ve learnt so far we’ve made a few minor adjustments to the specification which we hope will make it easier for local authorities to provide data inline with their current ways of working.

Brownfield land

Through our logging we noticed that some of the brownfield registers that we’ve been collecting from Local Authorities have started failing. Kishan has been investigating the causes of this, which were mostly cases where a new register has been published and the old one taken offline – the new registers have now been added to our brownfield land collection. In future sprints we’d like to explore more efficient ways of reporting and fixing collection errors.

Colm has worked on simplifying our brownfield land dataset page with the goal of making it more focused on the data we’ve collected and hopefully making it easier for people to download and use the raw data.

Speaking of people using the data, “The Countryside Charity” (formerly the Campaign to Protect Rural England) have published their 2020 State of Brownfield report. After they published their 2019 report we spoke with them about their experience of having to compile a national picture from each individual local authority register, those discussions helped inform our design of our national dataset which The Countryside Charity used in their 2020 report.

Developer contributions

In recent weeks our colleagues in MHCLG Planning Policy have been running workshops with the Planning Advisory Service to help local authorities produce their developer contributions Infrastructure Funding Statements. The workshops have highlighted a few areas which need further explanation. Based on what we learnt through these workshops we’ve updated our guidance on GOV.UK as well as updated the list of contribution purposes.

Policy and PropTech

Continuing to get feedback from the tech sector into the planning consultation, we worked with TechUK on a Planning for the Future Roundtable held 27 October. Paul Maltby, Chief Digital Officer, and Simon Gallagher, Director of Planning, both joined from MHCLG and attendees included a range of software providers across the planning industry. We were very appreciative of the additional input and grateful for the high engagement from tech companies throughout this process.


Last sprint we talked about the work we’ve been doing to identify the priority planning datasets that PropTech are asking for. This sprint we’ve published our dataset roadmap on the site. We know that priorities around what is needed are likely to change in response to the planning reform and we’ll continue to keep this list up-to-date.

If you’d like to provide any feedback or are interested in finding out more about our work then please do get in touch.