You Can Plan Lozells, but not without effort

From the comprehensive Life in Lozells blog I’ve just found out about a housing consultation — with some exciting computery features. First up, there’s a website —

Vision Lozells - Welcome to the Vision Lozells website
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

… which does very little but point you to the exciting You Can Plan Lozells “computer programme” (sic) – “a bespoke 3D virtual environment which allows you to view the proposals interactively in 3D. This software has a number of special innovation (sic) created for the Vision Lozells project “.

Now, I believe far more can be achieved by letting people talk to each other (a la the Big City Talk project) rather that flashy gizmos that people need to learn, but still — Virtual Lozells, that’s going to be exciting, and at least they’re trying something different. But,  it’ll be PC only I think, as a mac user I’ll not be able plan Lozells — wait, there’s a mac version (yay!).

So I dowload, install, agreed to the bizarre Terms and Conditions (no screenshots, not sharing etc.) watched as I trusted Birmingham City Council to install something on my computer, launched and:

YouCanPlan Lozells

Oh. No contact details on the website, nor any readme.txt file with the installer. I’ve found a contact on the last page of a PDF on the site, I’ll let you know how my planning of Lozells goes.

7 comments for “You Can Plan Lozells, but not without effort

  1. 30 March 2009 at 3:26 pm


    Thanks for your input. The content on the web site, which was just launched a few days ago, will grow in the coming weeks. At this stage our goal has been to get the tools into the hands of the residents and start the conversation. We're aware of the MAC problem occuring on some machines and we're working on a solution as well as confirming the support process for problems like this.

    To reassure you, we also believe whole heartedly in letting people talk to each other and to that end we started the process off with an event in the local park. Here are some pics:

    Crucially, the tool is designed to be used both face to face as well as remotely. We'll get in touch when we have an update on the install problem. I'm certainly keen to ensure that we get feedback from fellow Social Media Surgery folks (sorry I couldn't make the last event!), we need your knowledge and web 2 enthusiasm to help us make it better.

    Finally, to clarify who 'we' is, I'm the guy commissioned by BCC and Urban Living to deliver this project and I've been working alongside Slider Studio to combine local consultation skills with their software innovations. I'm a director at Axis Design Architects but you may also know me from

  2. 30 March 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Cheers Rob, I'm very interested in this sort of thing – which is why I was so dissapointed that it didn't work. I'm very computer savvy, so I think how people who aren't wouldn't even know that was going on (I'm supecting a Power PC issue?).

    Look forward to having a go, although there's no excuse for lack of contact details on the website ;)

  3. Terry Webb
    30 March 2009 at 4:05 pm


    My apologies for any difficulties with the site – I'm Terry Webb, one of the BCC Housing team involved in the project, I'm the crime design advisor to the housing regeneration and development team in the City Council.

    Contact details for the website are via email to – and apologies for not including that on the website, which is being amended to show that.

    This is the first time that, I beleive, any Local Authority has used this method of public consultation, we're using it in addition to the traditional methods of consulting with members of the public. We wanted to enable people to look at their area and any proposals for that area in as many ways as possible, so as well as the traditional newsletter and public events, we've posted the new website and the software to allow people time to look at and comment on the proposals from their own homes, ciommunity groups, schools and anywhere they can access a computer.

    We've also been using a 1 to 500 acurate scale model of South Lozells at the public events, which has been produced by a metod knows as rapid prototyping, which physically prints a 3d model from the information in the software.

    I do hope you can access the website, which will be updated with news and events, as well as updated software versions as the design proposals move forward. I'll be very interested to have any feedback which will help us refine and develop the consultation process.

    Regards – Terry

  4. 30 March 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Hi Jon

    I'm Michael Kohn from Slider Studio, supporting Rob in delivering the YouCanPlan Lozells platform for Lozells. Thanks your interest and feedback – our developers are at this minute working on a fix for Macs with old versions of Java3D – having developed YouCanPlan on our own Macs we are disappointed that we've been caught out by this problem – the software is by nature intended to be cross platform.

    We will add the contact details for both the Vision Lozells project and also the software support – apologies for this not being there when you needed it.

  5. 31 March 2009 at 12:41 pm


    We've found a solution for the Mac/Java problem and uploaded a new version to the web site. Feel free to download the new version and get in touch if you have any more problems.

  6. 31 March 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Oh, one more thing I should have mentioned before… don't forget to try the video tutorials if anything is unclear:

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