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Which buildings in London are used for which types of activity? Where do people live and work? Or experiment, research and create? Where can you eat out, or see a show?  Where can you learn, exercise or be cared for? How much space is allocated for each type of activity? How much is available for community use? How many different types of land use are there in London, and in which areas is land use most diverse? 

In order to analyse cities in a more scientific way, we first need to count and locate what's in them as accurately as possible.  What kind? How many? Where? are the questions we need to ask. Once these spatial statistics have been captured, the data can then be analysed to identify patterns, and underlying causes for them, to help solve complex urban problems. Are certain mixtures of land use, for example, important in creating economically successful areas? Is an area likely to thrive less where a single land use dominates? Where do specific types of land use cluster in London and how does this affect the way the city operates?

Land use is one of the data types most commonly used in city analysis and is relevant to the modelling of planning, energy, housing, transportation and economic development. However despite demand, comprehensive open land use data, at building level, are not currently available for London or any UK city. Data do exist, but access, and /or use is restricted. The main sources are HMRC's Valuation Office Agency, which holds land use information for approximately 27 million taxable UK properties, and Ordnance Survey's Addressbase products. Until existing land use datasets are opened up by the UK government, Colouring London will crowdsource this information.  Once open release does occur, we will move from our current focus on capturing land use, to updating, verifying and enriching data instead. 


Fortunately information on building use is quite easy to collect, and can be worked out, in most cases, simply by viewing the front of the building. This category needs fairly regular checking, as land use can change, particularly in non-residential buildings. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated. We're also particularly keen to involve London schools in this section, as data for Britain's first ever National Land Use Survey was crowdsourced in the 1930s from schools.

To help us with the building use section, just select a building and decide which of the nine types of 'Order', shown below, it belongs to. Then add a bit more formation using the dropdown options for 'Group' and 'Class'. We've chosen to use National Land Use Database (NLUD) classifications.

Over 90% of taxable properties in the UK are residential, and most buildings in London are homes. Recognising houses is quite straightforward. Blocks of flats can be differentiated from offices by the presence of curtains. Identifying activities within non-residential buildings is slightly harder but activities can often be determined by signage to the front, or at entrances.

If the building has several different uses you can pick our 'Mixed Use' option. We're also collecting information on vacant and derelict buildings, to help those trying to get unused buildings back into use, and on the number of separate units in the building. The latter can be estimated by counting the number of bells. Thank you for your support uploading data to this category.

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Colouring London is an open data platform and we can only accept data from unrestricted sources. Just use first-hand knowledge of the building wherever possible, or check your source is open and free for third party use.

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