Parish Online Stories

NALC Annual Conference Report

The Parish Online team attended the NALC Annual Conference for the first time since our collaboration with Pear Technology.

The two-day conference was held at the MK Dons stadium in Milton Keynes and had a packed programme of talks, workshops and interaction with exhibitors. Here are some of the themes relating to mapping that we picked up on:

Housing Requirement. Throughout the conference the was much talk of how Local Councils can meet the housing demand in an effective and thoughtful way. Issues around choosing the right location for housing considering local infrastructure and the environment were discussed. Many Clerks and Councillors we spoke to told us about how they’ve used Parish Online to do just that. By selecting different map layers (such as ancient woodland and flood risk zones) they can adapt their plans based on the proximity to these factors. There was also discussion around forcing developers to build the right type of housing. Many had reported that larger detached properties were being proposed when the demand is for low-cost “starter homes” that will help solve the housing crisis. Mapping has a part to play in this as a simple map showing the existing housing stock types in a village will highlight the deficiencies.


Community Engagement. During our mapping workshop, discussions arose around how Clerks can publish information to the public. They wanted to show maps that included their areas of responsibility (i.e. grass cutting schedules) as well as highlighting projects that volunteers could get involved in, such as litter picking or planting flower beds. Using the PDF printing functionality as well as the Map Sharing plugin to embed live maps into websites was shown as a way to assist with this.

Our mapping workshop on Harnessing Local Knowledge was very popular


Neighbourhood Plans. Lots of Local Councils that we met reported that they were using Parish Online for producing maps for their Neighbourhood Plan. It was great to hear that it was proving such a time-saver. Their next challenge was to start thinking about using Parish Online beyond the NP project and start recording their assets. This transitions Parish Online from a one-off tool to an essential application for all areas of parish business.


Power to Local Councils. It was interesting to hear how the balance of effort for many tasks is shifting from the principle authority to the Local Councils. This makes sense as the Local Councils are the ones with the local knowledge and, given the right funds, would be best placed to select the services and needs of the local area. This is important for us to know as it affects how we develop Parish Online to meet the many needs of the Council.

James Palmer, Metro Mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough discussing devolution


We thoroughly enjoyed the conference and it was great to have so much interest in our mapping workshop. It was also nice speaking to so many people at our joint stand with Pear Technology. We look forward to the NALC Spring Conference in early February.

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