22nd July 2014

Growing Routes for business


‘The Wales Coast Path should be an engine for regeneration and prosperity – encouraging businesses to launch and expand along its 870 miles, bringing jobs and opportunities to local residents.’ Richard Fairhurst.

Richard’s idea, ‘Growing Routes’, a website with online heat map to help business identify areas of opportunity along the Wales Coast Path and aid economic growth, received funding in the 2012 ‘Wales Coast Path’ GeoVation Challenge.

Wales attracted 890,000 international visitors spending £333 million during 2010, but this information is either not widely understood or contextualised for local businesses to exploit. Richard wanted to help business to take advantage of opportunities created along the Wales Coast Path and identify the ‘sweet spots’ to start or grow their business.

After receiving funding, Richard set about building the website and heatmap engine and pulled in data from the back-end database, displaying it attractively. The Growing Routes website was launched in October 2013 and the core of the site is an easily accessible, draggable and zoomable heatmap of Wales. It integrates open datasets from different sources; including OS OpenData, Meridian2, and several Natural Resources Wales datasets such as Landmap.

The map draws on a huge range of data including tourist attractions and nature sites along the coastal path, highlighting areas with, for instance, a paucity of bed and breakfasts and campsites, or areas with good wildlife, shown by Sites of Special Scientific Interest. It also shows other important information in decision making, such as access to and proximity of road networks and urban areas. The colour layer superimposed ‘glows’ to show the best areas to start new business.

Growing Routes has the potential to generate new jobs and business and for existing businesses to expand. Walkers or other path users can benefit from new business ventures, such as accommodation or restaurants, not too far from their route.

Planned improvements include adding routes to extend further than the Wales Coast Path, followed by work to promote and market the website. Growing Routes has potential to be developed and used along other routes and development work in 2014 is concentrating on a mobile-friendly version of the site, which could offer further opportunities for reuse of the flexible heatmap engine developed as part of the project.

‘GeoVation Camp helped me to hone my idea and develop a website that could be reused in other projects and areas. Using OS OpenData means the technology can be used to create websites in other tourist locations or trails throughout Britain, for instance cycle networks. I am grateful to Ordnance Survey for giving me the opportunity to develop and launch Growing Routes’.  Richard Fairhurst.

To find our more visit Growing Routes website

Download the case study