Localism, neighbourhood planning and community control: the MapLocal pilot

Phil Jones, Antonia Layard, Colin Lorne, Chris Speed

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In contrast to the managerialist target-driven approach of New Labour, regeneration policy under the Coalition claims to put communities at the heart of decision-making. The Neighbourhood Planning provisions of the Localism Act, 2011 are, however, symptomatic of the contradiction in this approach. Although communities are empowered to draw up statutory planning guidance for their neighbourhoods, in the context of swingeing cuts to local services, very little resource is being made available to support communities in producing these highly technical documents.
The MapLocal pilot was undertaken to investigate if tools could be developed to help communities undertake elements of the Neighbourhood Planning process. A smartphone app was developed to allow individuals to collect information (audio clips, text and photographs) tagged with GPS coordinates and uploaded automatically to a community map. Trialled by two Neighbourhood Forums in Birmingham, the paper examines the effectiveness of this tool in gathering multiple perspectives on the planning challenges facing communities. We also note the limitations in such an approach which can generate a wealth of information about a neighbourhood, but does not tackle the wicked issues of analysing and synthesising community perspectives and fitting them into the strictures of a formal planning document.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014
Subtitle of host publicationConnected Communities and the ‘Impact’ of Co-production (1) - From Community Engagement to Co-production
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2014


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