Side Project #2 – Monitoring New Planning Applications

A couple of weeks back, I outlined our interest in Electric Mill to public data projects , and an initial example of how A&E attendance figures could be presented. This is a good example of the data being available, but delivered in such a way as to make it kind of hard to get at.

So cue Side Project #2. If you live in Ireland, chances are you are either interested/intrigued/repulsed by house prices. This national obsession with home ownership is well recognised.

For reasons to profound to delve into here – planning regulations for residential or commmercial development – are also keenly followed by the media as well as by the public.

While individual county and city councils provide access on their websites to this information – and the information is also provided in regional and local newspapers – it is inevitably hard to get at.

Electric Mill Side Project #2 is Planning Buddy – a website that easily allows a user to create alerts based on particular named locations of interest to them.

For example, I live in Strandhill, Co Sligo. My account on is filtered to trigger emails based on matches of “strandhill” in Sligo. I can also receive these alerts as an RSS feed if I so wish.

In my “spare” time – I also maintain a community website for the area . For that site, I have configured a widget from within my Planning Buddy account – and placed this small piece of HTML code on the community site; Suddenly, anyone who visits there, has an instant view of the latest planning applications in the area. The widget is fully configurable for things like colours and so on, so that it fits nicely with what’s there already.

At the moment, Planning Buddy correlates just over half of the councils in the country including Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Kerry, Leitrim, Limerick, Louth, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary North and Waterford.
In order to get an understanding of what counties to include next, we’re asking for visitors to the site to suggest what counties might be completed next ; we will then look to facilitate this by building bespoke scraping rountines.

In the background to all of this, we’re currently working on expanding the reporting side – for example comparing applications per county per month, downloading the data, etc.

We’ve already had some queries from people that want to advertise on the site and that’s nice – we’ll be looking at this type of scenario and others over the coming weeks.

In the meantime, we would be delighted if you could send any comments or suggestions as to how we might improve what’s currently there.

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