Visualising the lamp post sign

Despite the availability of 24 items of planning data, only 6 items are currently used and none of these are visual.

The majority of content within existing signs covers the legal framework and provides the public an overview of how to contact the planning department. This is to comply within the 21-day consultation period, whereas the rest of the sign describes the intended development process in legal terms. While additional data is available through local authority planning systems, interpretting this information is cumbersome, the process of redesign required extracting and scraping images and text from PDF files.

The two images attached in this article represent the same data, the redesign incorporates the existing information while incorporating additional images and text.

The intention to redesign the planning notice became an exercise in making the sign more accessible and transparent. By using images and planning information obtained from local authorities planning portals, additional information was incorporated to highlight the reveal a view of the site before and after the development. By restructuring the existing A4 paper format, an additional subset of images and data can be incorporated within the existing space. 

However, incorporating images was considered problematic if misunderstood by the public; the argument against images suggests that using an artists impression of a development was perceived to favour the developer, if the council selects an image it is seen to be endorsing the design, whereas if the public could decide which image to use it was considered to be open to abuse. There is no neutrality in using images. As the sign is a legal document the language of the image becomes pertinent in the application process. Images are available to view through local authority planning websites, however, these tend to be side elevations from a selection of representative architectural plans.

The lamppost sign is seen in its current form as a valid and democratic method of broadcasting the planning message. Replacing the paper sign would potentially render any new signage invisible as the representation of the lamp post itself has become symbolic of the planning process. However, despite the current climate of concern and legal restrictions, there must be a better and more democratic visual way to represent architectural change.