Land change – who’s monitoring it and why is it important?

By Katerina Harrington, Relationship Manager, OSGB

With an increased focus on house building across the country, how can we monitor the changes to the landscape of Great Britain? Government has pledged to enable the building of 300,000 new homes a year, to counteract the short fall of homes in this country. But they’ve also promised to protect the greenbelt and build more homes on brownfield land. How can we ensure our green spaces are being protected? Do we know how many homes are built on brownfield land vs greenspace or on the green belt? How can we monitor land change?

Land classification from Ordnance Survey (OS) data provides a way of monitoring the changes to the natural and built environment. Information about land cover and land use is a key part of the planning process. It’s used as a benchmark of current investments and can reveal patterns to inform regional planning. Planners may use land change patterns as part of an environmental conservation or sustainability project, or to predicted future housing requirements.

In fact, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) use OS land change information. It aids the analysis and monitoring of change in the number of homes built on the green belt, flood risk areas and previously developed land (brownfield).

We log Britain’s landscape into one of 29 categories in our geospatial database. By taking a snapshot from 2015 and a snapshot from 2016,  we can compare the changes. Our Land Use Change Statistics (LUCS) are produced in this way.

There is a lot more that can be done with our land classification data, for example changes to and from forestry areas can be monitored. This could help to detect illegal tree felling and identify where new forests are being grown.

What else can be achieved by looking at the land change?

Could it be important to identify increases or decreases to transportation facilities across the country?

Or changes to retail areas, where they may be changing to other categories such as homes. Only recently it was reported that more and more commercial buildings are being converted into residential flats and the effect this has on local areas.

Is it important to know if our farmland is on the decrease or even increase?

OS data plays a vital part in helping government to answer many questions about the changes to land in Great Britain. These answers help the government to evaluate existing policies and plan for the future. 

If you want more information about how OS data has created Land Use Change Statistics go to the MHCLG website. The full LUCS report can be found here. See how local authorities are finding new sites with OS data.


You may also like

OS employees appointed Deputy Heads of Geography in Government
Ordnance Survey’s open data journey
Do you know where to find your Nuncle Dicks or your Deadman’s Head?

4 Responses

  1. Geoff Smith

    Very interesting! Is this land use data available in any of your products? (had a quick google and I can’t see anything obvious…)

  2. I manage the GIS projects for the National Forest Inventory and I am very interested in land change data especially in relation to change in forest area, so would be useful to know if this spatial data is available as a product or who I could contact for more information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name* :

Email* :