Simplified mapping opens up local planning to South Ayrshire communities

A major new project designed to shine fresh light onto the planning process in South Ayrshire has landed a UK award. A Council project to simplify a major planning document and make it more interactive was recognised at the Esri UK Customer Success Awards.

Esri is a software and services company specialising in the application of geographic information systems or 'GIS' to business and the public sector. At its annual conference, the Council's Local Development Plan Story Map was named the winner of the 'Tell your story using a map' category.

With Local Development Plans well known as large text heavy documents, a Council team has developed a new interactive 'story map' which allows users to see information from their local areas, zoom into maps to see priority projects, with a greatly increased use of pictures serving to bring development proposals to life.

The Council's Local Development Plan details out the priorities and policies for land use in South Ayrshire and is used to assess all planning applications received by the Council.

Jill Cronin, South Ayrshire Council's Head of Enterprise, Development and Leisure, said she was proud that the new approach has been recognised, "This national award is clear recognition of the huge amount of work that went into creating a document which clearly sets out local priorities in a way that's easy to access and simple to digest.

"Already we've seen a huge increase in public engagement, with the document being viewed by more people in a few weeks than the previous version was in the whole of 2015.

"The new approach has already hugely increased public engagement with the local planning process with the 'Story Map' approach generating 56% more views in its first two months than the previous document achieved in a full year."

"I'd like to congratulate the winning team on realising a fantastic innovation, which we hope will increase public engagement in this complex but important area."

Murray Roden, Customer Success Manager at Esri UK, said the award was well deserved, "Planning documents are highly technical by nature and having the vision to present the information in such an eye-catching way comes like a breath of fresh air.

"Using the document for the first time you're struck by its simplicity, but with so much technical information involved, it's clear that the project's success was no easy task to achieve.

"We've already had positive feedback from other Councils in Scotland which have been impressed by an approach which increases public engagement and directly caters for the needs of local communities."

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