Case Study: Using OSi data to develop Waterford Greenway

Waterford City and County Council (Waterford Council) used OSi data to develop a breathtaking 46km greenway between Waterford City and Dungarvan

What’s a Greenway?

Greenways are long corridors of natural, open space, often used as cycling and walking trails. There are numerous greenways in Ireland, like the 42km Great Western Greenway in Co. Mayo, and the 40km Great Southern Trail in Co. Limerick.

The Challenge

Waterford Council wanted to establish a greenway along an old, disused railway track between Waterford and Dungarvan.

Developing a greenway involves making a lot of decisions such as: How long should the greenway be? What are the points of interest along the way? Where should the access points be for pedestrians, cyclists and emergency services? Where are the nearest facilities such parking, bike hire and toilets? Where can greenway visitors get information to plan their itineraries?

Waterford Council also had to consider the landowners whose gardens had, over time, spilled out onto the proposed greenway site. The council needed to determine the correct land boundaries so that the new greenway did not encroach on landowners’ gardens and vice versa.

Waterford Council recognised that they would need access to highly detailed, accurate and up-to-date maps to make the decisions necessary to develop the greenway route.

The Solution

Using spatial data to plan the greenway

Waterford Council decided to use OSi data in the planning of the greenway. They were already using OSi data as a ‘base’ layer for their own maps when making a wealth of decisions, such as marking new roads, managing traffic during roadworks, taking stock of housing, determining rights of way, and allocating zones of land for residential and commercial development.

The council used OSi data to get a complete overview of the topography of the landscape. They used it to identify areas where the greenway site would need to be quarried, to plan the accomodation works (i.e. works that accommodate and reduce the impact on owners and occupiers adjacent to the railway), to plan drainage. They combined OSi data with other data to identify important service networks running through and near the site, such as water, communications and electrical lines. They also used it to inform tenderers and contractors about the structural and topographical intricacies of the site.

Consulting the public

A consultation was held with members of the public to inform them about the proposed plans and hear their concerns. Presenting the information on maps allowed the public to visualise the proposed plans, illustrating areas where, for example, new fencing and screening would be erected.

Land boundaries

The council’s consultants walked the proposed route and marked restrictions along the way on OSi maps. Restrictions included, for example, areas where neighbouring land users had built sheds or structures on the proposed site, or where locals were grazing cattle. In some areas, old garden boundaries had been moved and completely took over parts of the railway line. Mapping data was used to resolve any land ownership disputes that arose.

An interactive map

The council wanted it to be really easy for the public to plan their visit to Waterford Greenway. OSi data was combined with other spatial data to create an interactive map on the Waterford Greenway website. The map shows access points, points of interest, bike hire, toilets and weather. Careful consideration was given when choosing the icons and symbols so that the map is user-friendly.

The location of bike hire vendors along Waterford Greenway

12 access points

12 mapped points were chosen as being the most suitable places for the public to access the greenway. While other points exist, these 12 chosen points provide parking and the safest access for pedestrians and cyclists.

Access points along Waterford Greenway

18 points of interest

18 points of interest were plotted on the interactive map taking in a variety of scenic and heritage landmarks, from a ruined castle to a historic Viking site, to breathtaking gardens, viaducts, valleys and bays.

The location of points of interest along Waterford Greenway.

1km marker posts

Marker posts were erected every 1km along the greenway, making it easier for people phoning the emergency services to identify exactly where they are on the the greenway. Each marker post has a number. A person in distress can give the emergency services the number of their nearest post, the emergency services can then check this post’s location on a map and decide which access point is closest.

Benefits to Waterford Council

  1. A successful greenway

All the planning and decisions resulted in a spectacular recreational space that opened in March 2017 and attracted almost 250,000 visitors in the first ten months alone.

“We see a diversity of people using Waterford Greenway, from families to individuals to fitness groups. People come from near and far to experience it.” – Waterford Council

  1. A boost in tourism

Waterford Greenway is boosting tourism in Waterford, attracting walkers and cycling groups from all over Ireland and beyond. It’s also very popular with locals – a recent survey revealed that 43% of greenway users are using it weekly or daily.

“You always discover something new along the way. People often tell us that each time they return to The Greenway they see something they didn’t notice the first time.” – Waterford County Council

  1. An interactive experience

The interactive map makes it easier for visitors to choose their start and end points, and plan their stops along the way.

“The interactive map means that spatial information is not just being used internally for decision making, the public are using it too. It’s directly supporting tourism in Waterford.” – Waterford Council

  1. More context and detail when making decisions

Using spatial data helped Waterford Council to make more informed decisions throughout every stage of the planning process.

“From planning drainage, to resolving land boundary disputes, to choosing access points, spatial data has helped us make decisions every step of the way.” – Waterford Council

  1. Less time spent on administration

Having an interactive map on the website lessens the time needed for day-to-day enquiries that the council get about the greenway.

“Because a map is visual, people can easily find out, for example, how far they are to the next access point. Very often, we can answer a query by sending a link to the map. This saves us time because we don’t have to write big, long emails with written directions.” – Waterford Council

  1. An award-winning experience

The Waterford Greenway project is so successful it won Best Tourism Initiative at the 2018 All Ireland Community and Council Awards.

“10k run, 1 mile stroll, or 46k cycle – you can make Waterford Greenway as leisurely or as challenging as you want it to be.”

– Waterford Council

The future of Waterford Greenway

The next step for Waterford Greenway is to develop an app with an interactive map. This would make it easier for visitors to know exactly where they are on the Greenway at any given time, to see how far away they are from access points, and much more.

OSi Data & Services Used

Visit Waterford Greenway

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