Monday, 24 January 2011

Cash in the attic!

A map discovered in the attic of a house in Aberdeenshire sold at auction this week for over £200,000.

North East America and Canada from Hudson's Straights south through Labrador and Newfoundland to New England and New York.

Meticulously coloured and remarkably well preserved on a sheet of vellum, the map was drawn by London "plattmaker" John Thornton in 1699.

While the map depicts a large area of North East America and Canada, it was perhaps the inclusion of the small village of New York which attracted bidders.

More affordable maps and data can be found at

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Protecting yourself and your property from flooding

According to the Environment Agency, one in six homes in the UK is now at risk of flooding. Work is therefore under way to evaluate where to focus resources in order to provide effective protection.

Flood Warnings & Forecasts

Improvements to the EA flood warning service were announced at the end of 2010 and these include:
  • New flood icons and messages which are easier to understand, provide more local information and give clearer guidance about what people need to do
  • Locally specific information such as the time when flooding is expected, tide heights and what locations will be affected
  • A three day forecast in relation to flood risk from rivers, the sea and heavy rain which could lead to surface water flooding
  • Flood warning updates via RSS feeds (find out more at
  • The Flood Protection Grant Scheme
DEFRA has recently completed a review of the Flood Protection Grant Scheme. The review was based on a pilot project conducted in Appleby, Cumbria, where local householders and businesses were offered free flood risk reduction surveys. They were also offered grants toward the cost of putting protective measures in place.

The results of the scheme showed that:
  • Given information and support, householders and businesses were capable of and keen to manage their own flood protection measures
  • General levels of anxiety about flooding were reduced
  • The project acted as a catalyst for local collective action
  • Local leaders were a vital part of the emergency response network
These findings suggest a growing awareness of flood risk. They also show that effective public partnerships can empower a community to take ownership of their flood risk.

Exercise Watermark
In March 2011, DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government will conduct a large-scale emergency flooding exercise across England and Wales. The exercise, commissioned by the Environment Agency, is designed to test responses to severe, wide-area flooding. It will also test the effectiveness of measures recommended in Sir Michael Pitt’s review of the summer 2007 floods.

Exercise Watermark will use scenarios based on severe weather conditions including flooding from the sea, rivers, surface water and reservoirs. Participants will include central government departments, Local Authorities, the Ministry of Defence and many community-based groups.

Find out how you can get involved and about events near you at

The FIND flooding data package offers a comprehensive set of tools to help you evaluate flood risk to your development or property. Further details can be found at

Monday, 17 January 2011

The Shard of Glass

As construction continues on ‘The Shard of Glass’, critics claim that their worst fears have been realised. The 310 metre tower, they say, is rapidly becoming a blot on the urban landscape. Their particular concern is the impact the new building is having on views across London.

London has a framework of six protected views from elevated areas in parks to both St Paul’s Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster. This means that there is a legal requirement within urban planning to preserve these views by limiting the height of new buildings within or adjacent to a particular sightline. This legislation is designed to preserve particular landmarks as the focus of a view. The protection may also cover the area behind the place or building concerned.

English Heritage claims that the protected view of St Paul’s from Parliament Hill has been compromised. While the new building lies behind St Paul’s, they argue, the iconic silhouette of the dome has been lost. This was exactly the concern raised by English Heritage during the public enquiry regarding proposals to build The Shard.

Other commentators are more positive about The Shard and welcome it as an exciting addition to the skyline of a dynamic ‘living’ city. They are confident that it will very quickly become an iconic and popular feature in its own right.

Whichever side of the argument you favour, the debate is certain to continue.

Read more about the UK’s protected views:
FIND’s Protected Views Report
FIND’s Protected Views hazard map
RICS article on protected views

Previous protected view blogs:
Boris' new protected views for central London
Video guide to protected views for surveyors

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Now that’s what I call FIND 2010! has had a fantastic year – maintaining its position as the UK’s most comprehensive and competitive map and data provider.

Here’s a quick rundown of our ‘Top 10’ interesting facts and figures for 2010:

● The uptime for was an outstanding 99.91%!

● 5 new releases included

      ○ 20 new map and datasets
      ○ 6 new mapping tools
      ○ 4 new services
      ○ 3 new reports Read more

● The number of FIND’s Apple Mac users doubled during the year

● 5 new data providers were added to the FIND portfolio

● Our top 3 products were

      ○ Ordnance Survey Mapping
      ○ Land Registry documents
      ○ Environmental Agency data

● Our most popular blog was London's most accurate building height map

● Our support line received only 1 complaint during the whole of 2010

● The top 4 web browsers used to access FIND were:

      ○ Internet Explorer     63%
      ○ Firefox                   22%
      ○ Chrome                   8%
      ○ Safari                      5%

● Our top user groups were Architects and Environmental Consultants

● And finally, our favourite mapping joke of the year was:

      Q: Why do paper maps never win at poker?

      A: Because they always fold.