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.

Publications


10 25 50
 
Description The findings of the work are being used to develop: inform national Planning Policy review in Scotland, and to develop national engagement mechanisms between NERC, NERC(BGS) and national and local government development planning policy teams to increase awareness and capacity of LDP policy teams to utilise existing relevant research, and to enable NERC to develop more relevant and accessible research and knowledge to local government policy teams. Increased use of appropriate subsurface research knowledge and information to inform development planning policy will lead to increased effectiveness of public services and policy, and enable earlier and more informed investment decisions and more informed policy on developing PLace, Environment and land asset utilisation within urban areas. . It will also lead to cost savings to private sector involved in urban redevelopment through increased certainty of subsurface, earlier optimum design and reduced construction costs - lack of certainty in ground conditions the single largest factor to project overruns and overspends in UK and Europe. All 32 Local governments in Scotland, and the REigonal planning groups are engagemed in the work, as well as several Local Authorities in England and Wales. Findings are being used and up-taken by national government in Scotland, NERC, and Planning authorities in Rotterdam and Oslo, who are looking to develop similar subsurface planning approach, Uptake of preliminary findings by National Planning Reform of Housing and Infrastructure by Scottish Government - consultation document current. 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
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),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 EU COST Sub-Urban Action
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact 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 - and the work from this Grant is being disseminated through the EU COST Sub-Urban outputs. front loading appropriate subsurface datasets to the planning process and mapping increased and more effective use of these data through local government decision making processes; to cost savings to private sector involved in urban redevelopment through increased certainty of subsurface, earlier optimum design and reduced construction costs - lack of certainty in ground conditions the single largest factor to project overruns and overspends in UK and Europe
 
Description proposed UK first Supplementary Subsurface Planning Guidance
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The findings of the work are being used to develop the UK's first Supplementary Planning Guidance for Subsurface. This will increase awareness and use of NERC subsurface environmental data by Local Government and private sector developers, through Local Authority Development Planning process - front loading appropriate subsurface datasets to the planning process and mapping increased and more effective use of these data through local government decision making processes - increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy. It will also lead to cost savings to private sector involved in urban redevelopment through increased certainty of subsurface, earlier optimum design and reduced construction costs - lack of certainty in ground conditions the single largest factor to project overruns and overspends in UK and Europe. Several other Local Authorities in England and Wales are currently looking to engage and replicate the findings, and work in Glasgow.
 
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 Science Foundation (ESF)
Department 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 of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
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 of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
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, Kingdom of the 
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 of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
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 (UBDC)
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
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 Planning
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
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 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 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 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/