by Ed Dade
Posted on Nov. 16, 2020
This post shines a spotlight on a recent 'web app' project I developed, which provides an interactive map and key information about Neighbourhood Plans in East Cambridgeshire.
Screenshot of Interactive Neighbourhood Area map for East Cambridgeshire
In addition to my interest in neighbourhood planning, one of my main motivations for developing this website was to create an opportunity to 'play' with computer code and provide a space to develop web applications. Over time I have built this website from scratch and developed a number of web applications, including the Blog, Consult app, Planfinder app and Local Housing Need database, learning lots of new skills along the way.
Through this journey I formed an interest in developing interactive web-based maps, and for some time this site has hosted an interactive map showing designated Neighbourhood Areas in East Cambridgeshire on behalf of the district council.
The interactive map worked well but was a little tricky to update, requiring the spatial dataset which sat behind the map to be replaced with a new version every time a change was made. The map was therefore due an upgrade to give it greater functionality and make it easier to maintain.
I realised I needed to combine my skills in creating interactive maps with my knowledge of developing web applications.
The result is the new Interactive Neighbourhood Area map for East Cambridgeshire District Council - a fully-fledged GIS web application.
The map is easy to use and understand - it shows parish boundaries within the district council's area, with designated Neighbourhood Areas shaded based on their status, either red for a ‘Made plan’ or blue where the plan is not yet made (i.e. where preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan is currently in progress). It looks great and works well on large screens and mobile devices alike (thanks to the "Leaflet Map" library and "Open StreetMap" base map it utilises).
Clicking on a Neighbourhood Area or parish reveals a popup label. The label shows the name of the area, the current status of any Neighbourhood Plan project, and includes a link where the viewer can find more details about the preparation of the Neighbourhood Plan - such as key dates and milestones achieved.
A record for each parish boundary is stored in a database. The map draws information directly from the database. This means that when the council's staff update a record, the changes are shown immediately on the interactive map. Staff simply log into an administrator website to amend records - ensuring that maintaining the map is a very quick and simple exercise, and without the need for any complex knowledge of spatial data or websites.
I found the Interactive Neighbourhood Area Map to be an interesting project, and am excited by the opportunities such an approach offers since the map and database can be fully customised to meet the client's needs. For example, it could be developed into an interactive Policies Map to show sites and policies contained in a Neighbourhood Plan or Local Plan.
To discuss your spatial data and mapping requirements, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org