17th November 2016

Geospatial data and the future of the property industry


Today we have a guest blog post from Geovation Hub Member Jonny Britton. Jonny has an MA Landscape Planning and Management and worked as a town planning consultant before moving into software development. Prior to Land Insight he cofounded another map-based startup called TimeMaps. His dream is to watch Newcastle United win the Champions League.

When I moved into my flat last year, I thought “wow” it’s spacious, leafy and quiet; a rarity for London. 6 weeks later a football stadium was being built on the field behind us and now a flood light shines in our window and crowds can be heard each week as the local team plays. Why did I not know about this?

London city skyline

When I started looking for my new place, armed with the experience of my last encounter, I looked at the planning applications on the council website before making any decisions. From this I was able to make my own judgements on the area is due to develop as planning applications are like a crystal ball of what will happen to a place. By knowing what is happening you can get a feel for the air quality, environment, what new shops and restaurants are planned, how many building sites I would be living next to and whether the supply of the houses area might get saturated, which could affect the value of my place. I got great insight into all of this but it was a painful experience and took me ages. If it had taken many viewings to find a place, I probably wouldn’t have bothered.

From planning applications you can learn how an area will change and how that will affect you.

But there are many examples, beyond my own experiences, of when better access to planning applications would have a big impact: banks use them for risk assessments, the construction industry uses them for leads to know who to target windows or doors to, environmental companies use them to know when wildlife or nature might be affected by a development, asset managers use them to value their portfolios and property developers use them to gain market intelligence. These are all major markets with huge potential gains.

The big problem is that they are so hard to get at. There is no single source of planning applications and so the raw data can’t be re-packaged and turned into products that better serve these markets.

LandInsight web platform

Transforming the way you search for land: Quickly identify and pursue the best property opportunities across England and Wales by searching for past and present planning applications

Until now.

Our company has created this dataset as we use them to help house builders understand what they could achieve at planning on a particular site. But knowing that they can be so useful to other sectors, we thought we’d also release it through an API. In order to stimulate use of this, we’re holding a Hackathon from 2 – 4 December, with our partners Future Cities Catapult.

Over the course of the event there will be opportunities to pitch ideas, meet people who can help bring your ideas to life, listen to talks by and network with movers and shakers in the property world and also win big cash prizes.

To find out more, visit the Eventbrite page.