Envision Help

Introduction

ENVISION was designed to easily and quickly interrogate typically disparate datasets to identify potential precincts for urban regeneration. The reasoning behind the tools creation rests on the significant amount of redevelopment in the middle-ring suburbs of urban centers (roughly 50% in many Australian cities) and how this is largely occurring in a non-strategic, lot-by-lot, fashion. ENVISION sets out to firstly, using two Multi Criteria Evaluation tools, to identify areas that could potentially be of strategic focus and then, using a Redevelopment Potential tool based on land data, to indicate which land parcels in those areas are potential candidates for redevelopment. The final aspect of ENVISION allows users to consider a variety of regeneration scenarios for a precinct and consider their economic viability.

The system is designed to be used by Municipal authorities, to assess housing strategies, inform future growth strategies and to strategically lead the development of housing stock through identifying potential areas for regeneration.

ENVISION is an online system. As such, all that is required to use the system is a modern web browser and an internet connection. The system has been tested X, Y and Z. As data manipulation is performed server side users do not require exceptionally fast machines. However, due to the visual nature of the software, performance may be reduced in older computers. As the functionality of the system is based on data, much of which is provided by municipal governments and of a sensitive nature, access to the system is based on authorization from those municipalities, state government partners or system administrators.

Specifications

The power of ENVISION lies in ability to access a wide range of data in one place, and in a format that allows consistency between data types and geographies, which is particularly pertinent when analyzing the complexities of the urban environment and more so when dealing with a federated governance structure such as Australia. Due to federation many of the datasets have had to be manipulated and characterized so as to be consistent across all states. The base data required for the system is as follows:

  • Cadastral object
  • Valuations data
  • Demolitions and Net Increase data
  • Sales data
  • Town Planning Scheme data
  • Residential codes data
  • Building Footprint data
  • Elevation Contours data
  • Flood Risk data
  • Road Centre line data
  • Transit Routes data
  • Transit Stops data
  • Heritage data
  • Education Facilities data
  • Medical Facilities data
  • Activity Centers data
  • Municipally owned land data
  • Public transport access
  • Demographic data related to population age, relative advantage/ disadvantage, education levels and place or origin.

These variables are variously manipulated, normalized and categorized into a number of tables, each of which relates to one or more of the tools.

Due to the dynamic nature of ENVISION’s interface, and the way in which this interface is managed through metadata files, the full dataset is not required for the system to work; it simply needs to not be entered in the metadata file for the system. Similarly, should users require additional datasets for the system, once their behavior is captured (positively or negatively favored) in the metadata file, this data can also be analyzed.

Loading Data into the System

Prior to using the system a municipal dataset must be loaded into ENVISION. This process is managed by system administrators and involves: obtaining raw data, normalized data, zoning layers, and economic information from local governments; correctly projecting this data to GDA84: identifying the variables that exist in the table and applying them to the appropriate tools; and setting up the appropriate data access based on the data licensing agreements. Once done users then log onto the system and being using the system

Using the System

Logging on

Users access and log onto the system at here, which should bring you to a home page that looks like the screen below

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The logon authorizes users to view specific data sets. Each dataset is visible in the drop down menus on the Welcome tab, as shown below

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As each dataset in licensed, users have to agree to the constraints of each dataset when they first access it. This is a once only authorization per dataset (an example of this is shown in the image below). To move beyond this point, users must agree to the conditions.

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Tool 1: Detailed context

Description

This is a Multi Criteria Evaluation (MCE) tool; identifying Strategic areas based on land data. This tool uses a variety of land data sets to identify areas of strategic redevelopment within a municipality. Through being able to simultaneously access and query data from a variety of different areas of interest, this tool can allow municipal and state officers, as well as their constituency, to negotiate the most favorable areas to invest in strategic redevelopment.

The variables in this tool reflect the culmination of a year’s research into the indicators that local government officers deem to be the most pertinent for assessing the suitability of areas for regeneration; including the age of properties, the distance to public space, transport and other forms of social utility and the development that has been occurring locally.

Through selecting the appropriate criteria for regeneration in a particular municipality, and weighting the significance of those variables accordingly, evidence has proved that the outputs of ENVISION provide an artifact (a map) that allows for divergent positions to more effectively enter into dialogue about the pros and cons of selecting specific areas for redevelopment focus.

Variables and Weightings

This tool is used by selecting appropriate variables and weighting them. The weightings are between 1 and 10 and defaulted at 5. This is the strength of the weighting. The figures themselves are almost irrelevant; it is the context between them that is important. So if one variable is weighted at 5 (the default) and another at 10 (maximum), then the second variable is twice as important as the first. Due to differences in policy, geography and data availability, the list of variables will vary for each municipality. A typical data set may contain the following:

  • RPI: The Redevelopment Potential index or the capital improved value of the lot divided by the land value – if both exist. Effectively this is a ratio illustrating the a percentage of value in the land. Greater than 0.8 indicates 80% of value in the land, which indicates significant market pressure on the property to subdivide.
  • Area: indicates the area of a lot
  • Nearby demolitions: indicates the number of demolitions that have occurred within 200m of the property, which could be indicative of a culture of redevelopment
  • Near train station: proximity to train station, for transit orientated redevelopment
  • Extra land: the amount of extra land (in addition to building footprint) on a lot
  • LGA owned: a Boolean indicator of municipal land ownership
  • Nearby housing increase: indicates the number of dwelling increases within 200m of the lot.
  • Elevation change: indicates the difference between the minimum and maximum heights on the lot.
  • Non strata title: Indicates if the property has a strata title or not.
  • Non-environmentally sensitive: indicative of the environmental sensitivity of the lot; typically an indicator of no development. This indicator favors lots without environmental sensitivity.
  • Non- flood zone: an indicator of the parcel being identified as a flood zone. Selecting this variable indicates a preference towards non-flood risk areas.
  • Frontage: The meterage of land that directly abuts a road. This indicates high redevelopment potential due to the reduced necessity of driveways to subdivided lots.
  • Non-heritage: if the dwelling is heritage listed or not. Selecting this variable skews the selection of lots away from heritage land.
  • Near strategic center: proximity to large strategic shopping and entertainment precincts.
  • Near district center: Proximity to medium sized shopping precincts, such as supermarkets.
  • Near local Centre: proximity to local shops and clusterings of local, but not intensive, shopping and entertainment.
  • Near main road: proximity to roads of category 0-2
  • Near medical: proximity to significant medical centers – such as medical precincts, hospitals or district health clinics.
  • Near park: proximity to significant parkland or public land
  • Near primary school: proximity to primary school
  • Near secondary school: proximity to secondary school
  • Near tertiary school proximity to tertiary college
  • Age of building: the age of the building
  • Near bus: the proximity of the lot to a bus stop

The example below shows the variables Near Train Station and Near Medical selected, weighted at 8 and 6 respectively. This scenario could be looking for areas that are close to both forms of utility for an age in place scenario or possibly to build on the areas accessibility to heather services more generally.

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The resultant map (shown below) illustrates (in red) areas that significantly satisfy both criteria. Note the paler areas, which satisfy one or none of the criteria to greater and lesser degrees.

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Tool 2: Regional context/demographic context

Description

This is also a Multi Criteria Evaluation tool: identifying Strategic areas based on demographic data. This tool is similar to the previous Multi Criteria Evaluation tool, but rather than holding data at the land parcel it works at an aggregated (Statistical Area 1: SA1) level and comprises of Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Due to the dynamic nature of the database and interface, data can be stored at any aggregated level, however to allow users to identify areas it should be as small as the data capture will allow. As with MCE1 these variables are selected and weighted as to their importance.

Variables and Weightings

Variables are stored at the aggregated SA1 level. As with the previous tool, the weightings for these variables can be set to between 0-10, which indicates the relative importance of each variable for the query. A typical list of variables would be similar to the following:

  • Public transport access: Locally derived access to transport incorporating distance and frequency of services.
  • SEIFA High: Socio Economic Indicator for Areas (advantage and disadvantage) indicative of areas with high levels of income and education.
  • SEIFA Low: (Socio Economic Indicator for Areas (advantage and disadvantage) indicative of areas with low levels of income and education.
  • Aged 75+: % of population aged > 75 years (downsizing / retirement home)
  • Aged 55-74: % of population aged 55-74 years (Aging ‘empty nesters’ with home ownership)
  • Aged 30-54: % of population aged 30-54 years (first time home buyers/new families)
  • Aged 20-29: % of population aged 20-29 years (first time home buyers/renters)
  • Aged 0-19: % of population aged 0-19 years (children)
  • Quality education high: indicates a high % of individuals with university education
  • Quality education low: indicates a high % of individuals without university education
  • Country of Origin High: indicates a high % of Australian born individuals
  • Country of Origin low – indicates a high % of individuals born overseas.

The image below shows the regional context tool interface and the selection of Public Transport Service Access and age 75+, weighted at 5 and 8 respectively. This query would be attempting to identify areas with high proportions of older people looking to downsize (or move to retirement homes) and which are close to transport (though to a lesser degree) and thus part of a wider strategy to utilize existing public transport links within the municipality.

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The resultant map shown below illustrates, in dark green, areas that satisfy these criteria.

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When the outputs of Tool 1 (Detailed Context) and Tool 2 (Regional Context) are overlaid, the two maps provide a combination of land and demographic data, highlighting the areas that should be considered for strategic redevelopment (based on the supplied queries), as shown below.

envisioncombinedoutputs

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Tool 3: Precinct identification tool

Description

This tool is designed to assist planners in identifying dwellings that may be part of a precinct scale regeneration plan. The redevelopment tool allows users to select the indicators of redevelopment that are significant for a locality and/or a particular strategy and, through manipulating the cut off for these variables, to identify dwellings that can potentially be amalgamated or otherwise become part of a larger project than typical lot-by-lot redevelopment.

Unlike the previous tools, the values in the redevelopment tool are raw, not normalized, data points that define the specifics of each land parcel. As such the values in this tool are real. Though selecting the limitations of specific variables, such as slope, age of dwelling and distance to utilities, land parcels that could potentially be part of a larger redevelopment can be identified.

As with other tools this has been dynamically coded to allow partial or additional data to be included in the analysis.

Variables and Weightings

The variables that can be selected for the query are potentially as follows:

  • Redevelopment Potential Index >= : The RPI is the percentage of value that is in the land. It is calculated by dividing the land value by the capital improved value of the property. 0.8 indicates that 80%. By selecting this variable, it cuts out dwellings where the RPI is less than the user entered cut off value.
  • Dwelling Age >= : Selects land parcels with dwellings older than the selected value.
  • Dwelling Age = variable to capture dwellings in specific age brackets.
  • Area >= : Selects land parcels with area greater than the selected value.
  • Area <= : Selects land parcels with area less than the selected value.
  • Nearby Demolitions >= :Selects land parcels with the selected number of demolitions, over an eight year period, within 200m of a land parcel.
  • Nearby Housing Increase >= :Selects land parcels with the selected number of additional dwellings, over an eight year period, within 200m of a land parcel.
  • Frontage >= :Selects land parcels with street frontage greater than the provided value.
  • Elevation Change <= :Selects land parcels where the difference between the minimum and maximum elevation is less than the value provided.
  • Distance to Major Shops <= : Selects land parcels that are within the provided distance to medium scale supermarket.
  • Distance to Local Shops <= :Selects land parcels that are within the provided distance to small, suburban, shops and strip malls.
  • Distance to Strategic Centre <= :Selects land parcels with the supplied distance to Major strategic centers.
  • Distance to Main Road <= : Selects land parcels within the supplied distance of main roads (Australian road category 0-2).
  • Distance to Medical <= : Selects land parcels with the supplied distance to significant medical centers ; sites with significant plant and area, not simple doctors suites.
  • Distance to Park <= : Selects land parcels within the supplied distance to public open space.
  • Distance to Primary School <= : Selects land parcels within the supplied distance to primary schools.
  • Distance to Secondary School <= : Selects land parcels within the supplied distance to secondary schools.
  • Distance to Tertiary School <= : Selects land parcels within the supplied distance to a university, college or TAFE.
  • Extra Land >= : Slects land parcels with at least the amount of extra land (in addition to building footprint) available on a land parcel.
  • Distance to Train Station <= : Selects land parcels within the supplied distance to a train station.
  • Exclude Strata Title: Removes any land that is strata titled ( due to its difficulty to redevelop).
  • Include Vacant Land: due to its increased potential for redevelopment.
  • Exclude Env. Sensitive: Remove any land that has been categorized as environmentally sensitive. This is a category constructed from numerous interstate zones and overlays relating to ecology or cultural sensitivity.
  • Exclude Heritage: removes any land parcels that have been marked as heritage sites.
  • Only Residential Land Use: Shows only residential land; as opposed to all of the land including industrial and commercial, which may not be considered for residential development.

The image below shows the interface to the Precinct identification tool. The query being run is attempting to locate dwellings that have an RPI of 0.8 or greater, with an area greater than 710sqm, frontage greater than 10 meters and within 1km of a medical centre.

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The product of this query can be seen in the image below, with land parcels that are adhere to these selection criteria appearing dark blue.

Tool 4: Viability tool

Description

This tool allows users to assess the costs of different redevelopment scenarios. After identifying a potential precinct, users can select a redevelopment scenario (outright purchase of land, joint venture etc.) and then begin populating the precinct with housing typologies. The tool will calculate the timing and costs of this project as well as provide information on the sales of these typologies that are typical for the locale

Variables and Weightings

  • Scenario: the type of redevelopment scenario.
  • Typical: owners sell land to developers.
  • Joint venture: owners work cooperatively.
  • Non for profit: gifted land for social housing.
  • Residential land: the square metres of residential land available.
  • Demolitions & material: the square metres of demolitions and the material to be demolished.
  • Typologies: the set of dwellings that can be built in the precinct.
  • Quality: the quality of the build and fit out.
  • Floor space: the amount of floor space the dwelling contains.
  • Material: the primary building material of the dwelling.
  • Stories: how many stories the building has.
  • Car park/gardens: the square meters of additional land required by each dwelling.
  • Quantity: the number of units being developed.
  • Variable costs: all additional costs associated with the development.
  • Selling cost: the cost of selling the dwellings, as a percentage of sales value.
  • Professional costs: the costs of hiring engineers, lawyers and other professionals, as a percentage of construction costs.
  • Development charges: the levy placed on development of more than one unit on a lot by municipal authorities.
  • Holding costs: the costs of holding the land prior to and during development.
  • Acquisition costs: stamp duty.
  • Finance: the range of costs associated with financing the development.
  • Equity: the amount of equity held by the development group.
  • Interest rate: the rate for development loans.
  • Finance charges fixed: the base amount of establishing a large line of credit.
  • Finance charges variable: the percentage of the loan amount taken by financial organizations to establish the account on top of fixed fees.
  • Timing: how long the project will take and the stages of income.
  • Project duration: length of weeks to complete the project.
  • Stages: how many sales/income stages occur within the project.
  • Costs: a summary of all costs associated with the development, including the final cost of each dwelling typology.
  • Sales: the identified suburb the development is occurring in and the annual sales and volumes of each typology.

 

Viability calculations

Users first need to select a number of lots from the map. Once done they select a scenario type, the amount of demolitions (if any) and the typologies they would like in the precinct (along with qualifiers and quantities). Once completed, they calculate the project duration and run the calculations, which presents them with a cost for each typology, which they can compare to the respective sales of that typology locally. The image below shows the interface and output of the viability tool. This particular project is a typical redevelopment project of 4 large lots (3400 sqm) which is to be populated with ten townhouses and twenty walkup apartments. The project has been calculated to take 63 weeks, over two stages with $500,000 capital. Costs have been calculated at with local sales being 5 townhouses at a median value of $400,000 and 9 units at a median value of $413,000. Indicating that the development is economically viable however the demand for these units is questionable.

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Use Case 1: Developing Transport Corridor Housing Strategies

This use case attempts to identify dwellings in areas that could become part of a housing strategy to develop affordable housing along transit corridors. Due to the focus on affordability and developing in strategic areas, these dwellings must be in areas that are close to public transport and shops. The development must also be large enough to generate the economies of scale to generate affordable housing, while also being able to achieve a mix of public and private tenure.

  • Log into ENVISION and enter the test case name (aurin) and password (aurin).
  • Select the test State and Municipality of Victoria and Maroondah respectively.
  • Read the data license agreement, if you wish to continue select ok.
  • Select the Detailed Context tab
  • In the Detailed Context tab select the following variables and weight them, by dragging the slider bar to the right or left. Values are currently set at 5. The minimum is 1 and the maximum is 10. These values represent how important the variable is. Values are altered by selecting the check box next to the variable name and then moving the slider bar to the right, to increase the weighting, or left to decrease the weighting.
  • Near Main Road: Leave this at 5, as there are lots of main roads and we don’t want to develop near them all
  • Near Train Station: Set this at 10, as these are rare and really important to redevelop close to.
  • Near Strategic Center: Set this at 8, as it’s important to locate redevelopment close to areas of significant utility but not as important as locating it next to rail.
  • Near District Center: Set this to 6, as it is important to situate redevelopment close to utilities, buy not as much as next to strategic centres
  • The interface should appear similar to the image below:
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  • Click the button labeled Save & Compute at the bottom left of the MCE1 tab
  • Select the Map tab
  • In the Layers section on the right of this page select the MCE1 layer. This should reveal a map similar to that below:
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  • In this instance the dark green areas are the places that satisfy the query and as such are strategically well positioned for redevelopment in transit and amenity rich area. This is the MCE1 completed. Manoeuvre around the map using the zoom tools to the top left of the map window.
  • Select the MCE2 tab
  • Select and weight the following variables
  • SEIFA Low: leave it at 5. This is an indicator of cheaper land values which is important for affordable housing strategies
  • Aged 0-19: leave at 5 also: this indicates areas with high proportions of children, potentially indicative of new families and first time homeowners.
  • The MCE2 interface should appear similar to the image below:
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  • Click the Save & Compute button at the bottom of this page.
  • In the Map tab, deselect the MCE1 layer and select the MCE2 layer. The Map window should appear similar to the image below:
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  • By overlaying the two layers it is possible to see where the areas intersect and therefor the solution to the sum of both queries, or the solution to both the land and the demographic inquiry. Now that the areas of possible strategic involvement have been identified, the Multi Criteria Evaluation aspect of the tool is finished.
  • To begin identifying the actual land parcels for potential redevelopment, select the Market/Redevelopment tool.
  • Check the Redevelopemnt Potential Index checkbox and set the value to 0.8, indicating that we want to see properties with at least 80% of the value in the land
  • Select the Area checkbox and set the value to 700, This indicates that we also want to view properties that are at least 700 square metres in area.
  • Select the Frontage checkbox and set the value to 10, indicating that we also want to see properties with street access of 10 metres or greater
  • Select Elevation Change and set it to 3, the test area is quite hilly, this value indicates that we only want properties with 3 metre difference between the minimum and maximum elevations.
  • Finally, at the bottom of the tab, select the Exclude Strata Title, Exclude Env. Sensitive, Exclude Heritage and Only Residential Land Use check boxes, all of which removes potentially problematic and non-residentially zoned land parcels
  • The interface should appear to the image below:
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  • Click on the Save and Compute button
  • Select the Maps tab, deselect any MCE layers and select the Market/Redevelopment layer. The map should appear similar to the image below, with potentially redevelopable land parcels indicated as blue tiles:
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  • When zoomed in the map appears as so – where potential clusters of land parcels are plainly visible within areas that also tested positively to the Multi Criteria Evaluation queries
  • The next stage is to select a precinct and begin exploring the potential redevelopment scenarios. To do this, select some properties in the map window by individually clicking on them (2-4 lots will suffice).
  • Select the Viability tab.
  • Choose a redevelopment scenario (Typical, Joint Venture or Not For Profit)
  • If there are any demolitions, select how many square metres and the material type.
  • Begin populating the precinct by selecting typologies and providing them with quality type, material, floor space, stories, square metres of carpark/gardens and the number of these dwellings to create.
  • Examine the variable costs to determine if these are correct
  • Enter the amount of capital the venture has and adjust the interest rate accordingly.
  • Enter how many stages (income points) the project will have
  • Click the Calculate Duration button to estimate the project duration
  • Examine the Residential Land Value $ to determine if the estimated land value is appropriate
  • Click the Run Report button to calculate all costs.
  • Compare the unit cost of each typology to the historical sales values and volumes of that suburb.
  • The image below shows a typical development (selling to developers) with ten townhouses and 25 walkup apartments over 2 stages with 200,000 capital.
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Use Case 2a: Identify areas for Age-In-Place Scenarios

In this use case we will explore an Age-In-Place scenario. Given that it is a completely new scenario it is important to reset all tables prior to running new queries.

  • Select the Detailed Context tab
  • Click the Reset button at the bottom of the page.
  • Select Elevation Change and set it at 7, as flat ground is important for aged care solutions
  • Select Near Medical and set at 8, as proximity to significant health care is important, particularly for decentralised and home-based health care.
  • Select both Near District Centre and Near Local Centre and leave both at 5 as any significant aged care or aged in place scenario should be walkable to shops and services, but it is not as significant as medical case and flat ground
  • The interface should appear like so:
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  • Select the Save & Compute button
  • Select the Map tab, deselect all layers and select the Detailed Context layer to view the results
  • The map should appear similar to the image below, with the red and orange areas (roads excluded) answering positively to the query:
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  • Once this map has been explored to your satisfaction, move onto the Regional/Demographic Context by selecting the Regional/Demographic Context tab
  • In the Regional/Demographic Context tab click the Reset button at the bottom of the page
  • Select both Age 55-74 and Age 75+ as these variables are equally important, leave them both at the 5.
  • Select the Save & Compute button
  • Select the Map tab, deselect the Detailed Context layer and select the Regional/Demographic Context layer. The output map should appear similar to the image below, with redder areas indicating higher percentage of aged people:
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  • By overlaying the two layers we can see the areas that best respond to both queries.
  • To begin to identify actual land parcels in these areas, select the Precinct identification tab.
  • Click the Reset button on the bottom of the page.
  • Select Redevelopment Potential Index and set it to 0.8;  as above, properties with 80% of the value in the land, indicating significant market pressure to redevelop.
  • Select Distance to Medical and set the value at 800 – indicating properties with 800 metres of major medical infrastructure
  • Select Distance to Park at 500 metres – indicating properties that are within 500 metres of significant parkland
  • The interface should appear like so:
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  • Select the Save & Compute button and navigate to the map tab.
  • In the Map tab deselect the Context layers and select the Precinct Identification layer.
  • The output should appear similar to that below, with blue lots indicating potential redevelopment land parcels.
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  • Zoomed in, the image below indicates significant potential for land amalgamation and precinct scale redevelopment adjacent to health care and parks, and in areas of higher aged populations:
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  • Select 4 large redevelopable lots that are proximate to each other by clicking on them once
  • Select the Viability tab
  • This scenario will be a Joint Venture – as individuals are working with developers and the municipality towards a specific end – ie age in place.
  • As this is an age in place scenario the project plans to have 40, small, 1 story single dwellings, of high quality (to allow for additional fit-out).
  • The equity (potentially provided by superannuation or the municipality) is $1,000,000.
  • After calculating the cost, the project has a duration of 60 weeks.
  • Residences can be produced for $305,000
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Use Case 2b: Exporting data to ESP

This function is used to send both the redevelopable dwellings and the surrounding built form context to Envision Scenario Planner (ESP), the 3D visualization and assessment tool.

  • Use the redevelopment tool to identify potential redevelopment precinct
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  • Zoom into an area of interest
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  • Click on a properties that are for redevelopment
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  • Once all land parcels have been selected, select the ‘draw’ tool in the top right hand corner of the mapenvisioncasestudy2bdrawicon
  • In the map, draw a shape around the area you are interested in – to capture both the precinct and the surrounding context
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  • Double click to finish drawing
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  • Click the “Download to ESP” icon in the top right of the windowenvisioncasestudy2bdownloadicon
  • The precinct will now download, as a zipped shape file and building footprint file, to an area of your choice, where it can now be up loaded into ESP.