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Developing plans for a new allotments site with the aid of digital mapping

  • There are huge economies to be made (with Ordnance Survey data and a GIS). It must have saved us hundreds of hours consulting with utility companies, receiving paper maps, transcribing their information onto our plans and digging over the site to find exactly where things are buried.

    Jim Griffiths, Town Clerk, Aberystwyth Town Council

According to Aberystwyth Town Council, the introduction of digital mapping has saved them a huge amount of time and effort as they planned for a new allotments site in the town. This has allowed the council to share digital mapping with utility companies and produce professional plans to consult with people in the local area.

The challenge

Until recently the town had only one allotments site, containing twenty-five plots, this site being managed by Ceredigion County Council. This one site was not enough for a town with a resident population of approximately 12 000 (excluding the university student population). Given the waiting list for those plots, the Town Council decided they would act and create a second allotments site. They identified a suitable area of scrubland and took out a long lease on the land.

The solution

In early 2011, the council acquired digital mapping and began using Pear Technology software to manage Ordnance Survey geographic data. The Town Clerk received help with the software installation and was provided with a day of training. One of the first uses for this capability was to assist with the allotments site.

The council needed to secure the site by procuring the erection of fencing. Historically, they would have sent someone out to survey its perimeter with a measuring wheel – not easy to do with any accuracy on scrubland. In this case detailed maps using GIS meant they could quickly measure the distance with pinpoint accuracy, leaving little room for disagreement about the contract cost.

The council then used Ordnance Survey’s 1:10 000 Scale Raster and OS MasterMap® Topography Layer to work out how best to fit ten allotment plots of the same size onto the site. It was equally simple to add objects such as beehives, where the plan showed they had enough space.

Furthermore, the council were able to data share with utility companies, receiving digital data on the location of every drain and cable. This combined with Ordnance Survey mapping meant they now knew, to within a few centimetres, the location of every drain and cable under the allotments site.

Consultation with the local community was also simplified. Leaflets containing professional-looking maps were produced and, when they wanted a poster of the plans for the public consultation event, they sent the file to the County Council who had the facilities to print large maps.

Local people gave strong support to the proposals and the Town Council submitted its planning application for the allotments site, online, attaching a file with its plans.

The benefits

  • Efficiency gains were realised through digital visualisation and measuring of the site.
  • The budgeting and procuring of materials and labour, such as to erect fencing around the site could be planned accurately and in a way which saved time.
  • The council could share geographic information electronically with utility companies, to find out exactly where their infrastructure impinged on the site, saving them a great deal of time.
  • Professional-looking maps were produced for consultation with the community, which the council felt also helped to raise their status with other statutory organisations.

The products used

Related case studies

Dauntsey Parish Council has successfully combined local knowledge with Ordnance Survey digital maps to help it undertake a professional analysis of local flood impacts and risks.

West Bletchley Council has found that using digital mapping to plan for its annual carnival is a fast and efficient process.

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