High resolution aerial photography from Bluesky is helping Darlington Borough Council produce plans of Council owned land, in order to promote growth and development in the North East of England authority. Primarily used by the Estates and Property Section of the Economic Growth Group, the Bluesky imagery helps locate and identify previously undeveloped land parcels, producing maps for acquisitions and disposals, right to buy and tenancy agreements, way leaves and easements. Used in combination with GPS surveying, the Bluesky photomaps provide comprehensive ground detail, are up to date and accurately match the Council’s Ordnance Survey mapping.
“Post-2014, Darlington became a hive of building activity, and we realised our previous aerial photography was no longer viable as a recent record due to substantial changes in the built environment,” commented Ross Harwood, Estates Technician at Darlington Council. “Recommended by fellow local authority technicians and buoyed by the fact that central government uses the same data, we engaged with Bluesky to secure up to date coverage. Since taking delivery of the data, which, I have to say, is the most accurate and best quality of any I have seen, I have been able to sit back and enjoy the praise of hundreds of colleagues whose working lives I have made easier!”
Darlington Council currently uses the Bluesky data to map out proposed developments, including land ownership and potential restricting constraints – from Conservation Areas to Civil Aviation restrictions. The data also helps identify underground features, evidenced by earthworks or ground disturbance, and grid locations can be extrapolated from a variety of other sources, including Highways data, architects’ plans and the Land Registry.
“The Bluesky data allows us to produce and share the exact location and extent of proposed development sites and effectively demonstrate how the area will change and progress over time,” continued Harwood. “These ‘visuals’ really help engagement with project partners and Cabinet members, providing a realistic view and not just a simplified map coverage.”
Other uses of the Bluesky aerial photography include master planning of future road networks by Highways, mapping out winter gritting and grounds maintenance by the Streetscene team, and recording Planning Applications when the sites are not covered by other sources. Local Motion, a government funded initiative to get residents walking, cycling and travelling by public transport more often and more safely, also uses the Bluesky data to identify and promote possible routes.