Integrating subsurface environmental data and knowledge into city planning

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Geological Survey
Department Name: Geology & Regional Geophysics

Abstract

There is increasing recognition that cities need to take greater account, and make more effective use of the subsurface on which they stand, in order for future cities to be sustainable and more resilient. However, city planning worldwide remains largely 2D, and there is a long-held fundamental knowledge and communication gap between subsurface environmental specialists and city planners. The consequences are far-reaching: across Europe, poor understanding of ground conditions is recognised as the largest single cause of construction project delay and overspends.
The recent step by Glasgow City Council (GCC) - the UKs second largest unified local authority - to action the development of the UK's first statutory urban subsurface planning guidance, and a wholly new volumetric (3D) planning approach, presents a pivotal opportunity in the UK to begin to transform the knowledge gap between NERC subsurface environmental experts and city planners and decision makers. The key commitment of a NERC KE Fellow will provide the crucial geoscience support required to bring this to meaningful fruition, and enable its replication elsewhere.
The NERC Fellowship would work to marry the needs of UK city planning and urban environmental management, to NERC urban subsurface data and knowledge. This will enable improved understanding and management of the urban subsurface environment directly in line with NERC strategy for sustainable cities. The key objectives would be to: (1) assist GCC in developing the UK's first statutory urban subsurface planning guidance, embedding NERC subsurface environmental data and knowledge within this, and develop a wholly new 3D planning mechanism; (3) build on previous pilot KE activities to develop a new centralised NERC dataset of accessible, validated and standardised digital shallow subsurface data - a key requirement for NERC to be able to deliver relevant 3D subsurface environmental models to support urban planning and environmental management, in line with NERC strategy; and (3) embed UK as best practice example of subsurface data and knowledge exchange, in Europe, and further afield, through the European COST (Sub-Urban) Action.

The work will involve significant KE activities with a wide range of subsurface specialists, urban planners in local and national government, and public and private stakeholders involved in generating, or using, subsurface environmental data. Through facilitating roundtable meetings and workshops the NERC KE Fellow will build on existing pilot KE activities to: transform the relationship between specialists, identifying and developing new and effective KE pathways; and, identify key gaps in data and technical capabilities. The KE Fellow will co-ordinate, transfer and up-scale the KE pathways from the Glasgow conurbation, to Scotland, and to pilot cities within the rest of the UK, through larger workshops and network meetings. A key part will be to develop existing and new stakeholder partnerships, as well as linking to the activities of the UK Future Cities demonstrator and Super City projects where appropriate, to ensure large urban environmental datasets are integrated to city planning. Linking to activities within other so-called 'Super Cities' of Cardiff, Bristol and Newport, and also cities of Manchester, York and London where BGS have existing subsurface urban models or knowledge and effective local authority partnerships, will form other key foci.
The KE fellow will act as a translator within key meetings between local and national government and planning authorities to communicate the importance of subsurface resources to sustainable urban development and the need for new 3D planning approaches.
 
Description The findings of the work are being used to develop: inform national Planning Policy review in Scotland, and secondary legislation of Planning Bill (2017) Scotland. BGS now chairs a sub-group of key statutory planning agencies with Scottish Government which is working together to identify the key environmental information that is required for local and national planning. This will help Scottish Government ensure appropriate processes of secondary legislation can be developed to support the Planning Bill (2017) Scotland, and to consider full range of relevant evidence when the Scottish Planning Policy and next National Planning Framework for Scotland is developed The work of this KE Fellowship Grant has enabled a significant culture change in that the key statutory planning agencies, Scottish Government, and all 32 local governments in Scotland which has brought together the local councils and key agencies to ensure that there is a common understanding of what is required, through a coordinated, centralised and interactive dialogue - this is a significant culture change that is now having benefits. BGS is now explicity named alongside statutory planning consultees in the Scottish Government Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) action review plan All 32 Local governments in Scotland, Scotland's Statutory planning consultee agencies, Scottish Government, and the Regional planning groups are engaged in the work, as well as several Universities in Scotland and Local Authorities in England and Wales. Findings are being used and up-taken by Welsh government to inform the Welsh Planning Policy (2018) There has also been uptake by The EU COST Sub-Urban Action - a consortium of geological surveys, and city municipalities and local authorities in 27 European countries are using the findings of the work as an example of best practice for improving effectiveness of public services and planning policy
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Citation in National Planning Reform of Housing and Infrastructure (Scottish Government)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Consultation proposes increased front loading appropriate subsurface environmental datasets to the Development planning process - so that housing and infrastructure development plans can make more effective utilisation of subsurface resources and mitigate costs and risks of complex ground conditions
 
Description Key Agency Group Scotland - chair of new Sub-Group
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact Developed new collaboration between Scotland's statutory planning consultees and agencies with BGS (NERC) with local and national Government in Scotland - has lead to: 1) three national collegiate working charrettes (Jan 2017, May 2017, Feb 2018) between Key Agencies and local and central government in Scotland; 2) developed new processes of collaboration in public services - with a coordinated, centralised and interactive dialogue between planning policy teams and Key Agencies providing key evidence - recognised as a transformative culture change by Scottish Government and the Key Agencies.
 
Description National Planning Policy review Scotland - informing delivery of housing
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Planning Bill (2017) Scotland
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Scottish Government - Planning Policy review and Secondary legislation Planning Bill (2017) Scotland
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
 
Description Scottish Government Coordinated Agenda for Marine, Environment and Rural Affairs Science (CAMERA) committee - Environmental Coordination Group
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Welsh National Planning Policy (2018)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Welsh National Planning Policy (WPP) 2018
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Title E-planning Scottish Government portal - trial linkage to NERC database 
Description developing and trialling linkage of subsurface data received by Scottish Government e-Planning and e-Building warrant portal through applications to NERC's National Geoscience Data Centre (NGDC) UK digital data portal 
Type Of Material Data handling & control 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact developing footprint for linkage of national UK data capture portals and databases 
 
Title NGDC UK Digital Data Portal - trial and development 
Description the research grant activities have led to and assisted facilitate the UK rollout of new NERC data portal (NGDC) for UK digital subsurface data - which validates data to existing digital data reporting format - which ensures UK subsurface data supplied to the portal are accessible and re-useable 
Type Of Material Data handling & control 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact increased amount of high quality subsurface data to NERC (National Geoscience Data Centre (NGDC/BGS)) from the private sector which is of accessible format, and which can be handled using automated data handling processes. This data is largely from the key shallow subsurface horizon (0-50m depth) from which there key data gaps in NERC. Key national stakeholders (public and private) are making it a contractual requirement of their framework contractors that data are submitted in validate digital AGS format to NERC (NGDC) through the portal, so that there can be improved subsurface knowledge of wide benefit. The NGDC UK Digital Data Portal was launched at an event organised by this Grant in November 2015, in Cardiff. Private sector vendor software companies for geotechnical data are also interested in using the data validation developed. 
URL http://transfer.bgs.ac.uk/ingestion
 
Description EU COST Sub-Urban Action 
Organisation European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)
Country European Union (EU) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The research from this Grant is being seen as an example of a best practice in enabling more effective use of subsurface environmental data to support local government (city) planning, and to unlock brownfield development for increased urban resilience and societal well being in urban areas
Collaborator Contribution Examples and insight into other planning and research integration processes, which can be integrated and trialled within this Grant for the benefit of UK public services and policy and research
Impact Findings from this Grant are being used and up-taken by Planning authorities in Rotterdam and Oslo, who are looking to develop similar subsurface planning approach - a joint Scoping Document and Publication is being prepared
Start Year 2015
 
Description Ordnance Survey 
Organisation Ordnance Survey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Case study and demonstration trial for new developing new approaches to UK three-dimensional mapping and use of environmental data
Collaborator Contribution Access to the application and trial of new three dimensional modelling and mapping software platforms - which are essential to delivering outputs of the Grant
Impact still ongoing
Start Year 2016
 
Description Scottish Water 
Organisation Scottish Water
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution data handling and increased cost-effectiveness of subsurface data; increased access to NERC (BGS) 3D subsurface data for Glasgow region
Collaborator Contribution Subsurface environmental data from Scottish Water geotechnical investigations and infrastructure project deposited to NERC (NGDC) - increased data input of standardised validated digital data format to NERC
Impact Subsurface environmental data from Scottish Water geotechnical investigations and infrastructure project deposited to NERC (NGDC) - increased data input of standardised validated digital data format to NERC
Start Year 2015
 
Description Sweco (Grontmij) 
Organisation Grontmij
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution data handling process and more effective data utilisation and management; increased access to NERC(BGS) 3D data for Glasgow under Innovation Agreement
Collaborator Contribution workshop meetings between Grontmij Sweco and Glasgow City Council - examining how shared data and knowledge platforms can be developed and utilized by public and private sectors in urban development and subsurface resource utilization submission of subsurface environmental data to NERC (NGDC) Trial of new data handling processes developed by NERC(NGDC and BGS)
Impact increased Subsurface data to NERC (NGDC) in standardised validated digital data portal; nomination for Brownfield Briefing Award 2014
Start Year 2015
 
Description Transport Scotland 
Organisation Transport Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Data handling and access; increased access to BGS data for Glasgow under Innovation Agreement
Collaborator Contribution Subsurface data deposited from Transport Scotland infrastructure projects geotechnical investigations to NERC (NGDC)
Impact Subsurface data deposited from Transport Scotland infrastructure projects geotechnical investigations to NERC (NGDC)
Start Year 2015
 
Description Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC) 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Department Urban Big Data Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Member of Advisory group to the UBDC
Collaborator Contribution Future work collaboration - funding proposal to RCUK and Innovate UK Urban Living Partnership funding programme submitted -sharing of data for specific work activities and mutual research
Impact funding proposal to RCUK and Innovate UK Urban Living Partnership funding programme submitted -sharing of data for specific work activities and mutual research
Start Year 2015
 
Description Welsh Government Planning team 
Organisation Government of Wales
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Transfer of knowledge from Glasgow and Scotland on Subsurface Planning and draft Supplementary PLanning Guidance
Collaborator Contribution Input and co-authorship of Joint Scoping Document on Subsurface PLanning, EU strategy and national planning reform, between Scottish and Welsh Devolved Governments
Impact co-authorship of Joint Scoping Document on Subsurface PLanning, EU strategy and national planning reform, between Scottish and Welsh Devolved Governments
Start Year 2015
 
Description AGI Scotland event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of work at AGI Scotland Annual event - event focused on emerging technologies and techniques that deliver savings when capturing, maintaining and analysing spatial data. the event was attended by chief executive of the Improvement Service, a COSLA/SOLACE partnership set up support local government improvement across Scotland. The IS' aim is to help councils and their partners improve the health, quality of life and opportunities of all people in Scotland through community leadership, strong local governance and the delivery of high quality, efficient local services
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.agi.org.uk/component/civicrm/?task=civicrm/event/info&Itemid=238&reset=1&id=126
 
Description ASK Network Cardiff 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact ASK (Accessing Subsurface Knowledge) Network Event - Knowledge exchange network between subsurface data generators (private sector drillers, consultancies) and data users (stakeholders, local and national government), and researchers. The network is aimed at facilitating the develop and exchange of high quality systematic subsurface datasets and models; facilitate greater accessibility and re-use of subsurface data to better inform decision making and management of urban resources. Innovation Agreement to members enables increased access to NERC data and models.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bgs.ac.uk/research/engineeringGeology/urbanGeoscience/Clyde/askNetwork/home.html
 
Description ASK Network Glasgow 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact ASK (Accessing Subsurface Knowledge) Network Event - Knowledge exchange network between subsurface data generators (private sector drillers, consultancies) and data users (stakeholders, local and national government), and researchers. The network is aimed at facilitating the develop and exchange of high quality systematic subsurface datasets and models; facilitate greater accessibility and re-use of subsurface data to better inform decision making and management of urban resources. Innovation Agreement to members enables increased access to NERC data and models.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
URL http://www.bgs.ac.uk/research/engineeringGeology/urbanGeoscience/Clyde/askNetwork/home.html
 
Description Brownfield Briefing UK conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of the work at UK Brownfield Briefing event, Edinburgh - focusing on discussing issues which cuurent impede and increase costs and risk of brownfield development in the UK to public and private sectors. Strong interest in the work at the event, and subsequent invitation to speak at BB future event in London on improved use of subsurface data for UK industry and knowledge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://brownfieldbriefing.com/brownfield-scotland
 
Description Brownfield Regeneration and Innovation Centre Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invitation to sit on the Board of the Brownfield Regeneration and Innovation Centre Board (BRIC) of Wolverhampton University. Significant regional investment in brownfield research and national linkages with policy and research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Future Cities Catapult 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of work at 'Hidden Depths' expert working group meetings hosted by the Future Cities Catapult, at the Urban Innovation Centre London. Joint scoping document being produced from meeting on potential future work collaboration opportunities in the group; initiation of formal collaboration between the work of this Grant and Ordnance Survey in 3D modelling
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Invited keynote to EU COST Action Final conference, Bucharest 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited keynote to EU COST Action Final conference, Bucharest - keys findings from NERC KE Fellowship grant regarding the required communication and connectivity between research and policy for Research into Use
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Key Agency Scotland sub-group - environmental evidence for Planning Policy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact new formal dialogue between BGS and the Key Agency Scotland sub-group - environmental evidence for Planning Policy. Enabled collective input and understanding to Scottish Government r.e. the Planning Bill (2017) Scotland
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description NERC Data Operations Group committee 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion of key findings of local government stakeholders needs for research into use, and developing higher impact from NERC data centres
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description NERC Policy KE Fellows 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Meeting with NERC Policy KE Fellows in Scottish and Welsh Governments - to identfiy and coordinate shared opportunities and linkages for outputs form Grant Research - outcome is invitation and engagement with UKEOF management (UK Environmental Observation Framework)
Meetings with NERC Policy strategy officers - outcome is the Research Grant is giving 6-monthly reports to NERC policy officer on succesful mechanisms of engagement with Devolved National governments,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
 
Description National Government workshop Scotland - Planning policy and evidence (Feb 2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact National Government workshop Scotland - organised by H C Bonsor as BGS NERC KE Fellow - in collaboration with Key Agencies Scotland, with Scottish Government, and all 32 local government in Scotland, to: 1) developed collaborative and coordinated dialogue and understanding on key environmental information and research required to help inform and support planning policy to deliver key priorities (housing, infrastructure, low carbon energy, connected resilient communities)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description National Government workshop Scotland - Planning policy and evidence (May 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact National Government workshop Scotland - organised by H C Bonsor as BGS NERC KE Fellow with Scottish Government, and all 32 local government in Scotland, to: 1) developed collaborative and coordinated dialogue and understanding on key environmental information and research required to help inform and support planning policy to deliver key priorities (housing, infrastructure, low carbon energy, connected resilient communities)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description National workshop Scotland - Accessing Subsurface Knowledge (ASK) Jan 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact National workshop with Mixed Public and Private Sector actors to develop centralised understanding between BGS research (NERC) and external research users (consultancies, local authorities) of key subsurface information requirements to inform construction, development and unlocking of brownfield land,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation at UK Planning Research Conference, Belfast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of key research findings and case studies from NERC KE Fellowship to UK Planning Research Conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description SGU Trondheim Urban geology conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of work at Urban Geology conference hosted by Norwegian Geological Survey - and attended by approximately 150 participants over 2 days from Europe. There was significant interest in the work at the event, and since the event collaborative work has been initiated with the planning team and geological surveys in Oslo and Rotterdam
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Scottish Government Improvement Services 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation and input to Scottish Government Improvement Services workshop on National Planning Reform on Infrastructure and Housing - raising awareness of benefits of effectiveness of public services and Development Plan process with more effectiveness utilization and planning of subsurface resources and risks. The Improvement Service, is a COSLA/SOLACE partnership set up support local government improvement across Scotland. The IS' aim is to help councils and their partners improve the health, quality of life and opportunities of all people in Scotland through community leadership, strong local governance and the delivery of high quality, efficient local services.
Presentation at the event broadened the outreach of the work of this Grant to all Local governments in Scotland
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.improvementservice.org.uk/support-for-councils.html
 
Description Scottish Government Planning team 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation to Scottish Government Planning of work by Research Grant to develop UK first Supplmentary Subsurface PLanning Guidance
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
 
Description UK Environmental Observation Framework 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact presentation to Management Group of UK EOF about work in Research Grant to develop and trial Subsurface Supplmentary Planning guidance, and relevant NERC data into local government Development Planning processes. outcome - follow on engagement
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Urban Big Data Centre (EPSRC) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Member of Advisory Group of the EPSRC funded Urban Big Data Centre - impacts include linkage of this Grant work to UBDC and identifying possible future work collaborations with UBDC and Glasgow University and NERC; submission of joint funding proposal to RCUK and Innovate UK Urban Living Partnership funding programme
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://ubdc.ac.uk/