The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) is proposing the creation of a uniformed ‘Map for England’.

Do we need a single map for England?

Research carried out by the Centre for Urban Studies at The University of Manchester has lifted the lid on a bloated mapping system currently operating in Whitehall. Government departments are using more than 100 maps for England, relating to policies on the economy, communications, transport, housing and the environment. Scattered across numerous web sites and within a catalogue of departmental reports, the maps are also hard to locate.

RTPI President Colin Haylock said: “We believe that with a Map for England policy makers could make better judgments about how individual policy proposals interact with and affect development of the country as a whole”.

Analysis by the Centre for Urban Studies at Manchester University revealed that the current lack of a cohesive system can lead to unintended consequences. In the case of housing development, the study showed a sizeable overlap between areas where future growth is projected and where there is the greatest risk of flooding and household water shortages.

The RTPI argues that a Map for England would help to better focus infrastructural planning, resulting in a boost to growth as well as savings on time and money. Furthermore, the additional transparency would enable local communities to find out about government plans in their area and how to potentially influence them.

Haylock added: “Such an initiative offers the opportunity of a truly joined up approach to planning infrastructure and services, perhaps by way of a single portal. We are launching a debate on this proposal to see if others share our views and to ask what mapping information should be included.”

Throughout the coming year, the RTPI will be questioning key stakeholders about their opinions on the project and holding a series of events to stimulate a vibrant, nationwide discussion.

“A Map for England: spatial expression of government policies and programmes” can be downloaded from: www.mapforengland.co.uk

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