Developer slammed for using image from computer game to illustrate plans for new Norfolk town

PUBLISHED: 12:25 03 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:52 04 August 2018

The image from the Cities: Skylines computer game used in the Lanpro prospectus about the Mid Norfolk Garden Town, Image: Lanpro/Colossal Order

The image from the Cities: Skylines computer game used in the Lanpro prospectus about the Mid Norfolk Garden Town, Image: Lanpro/Colossal Order


Developers behind plans to build a new 10,000 home town in mid Norfolk have been criticised for using an image from a computer game in a project document.

The eight-page brochure, which was published by this newspaper earlier this week, outlines Norwich-based firm Lanpro’s vision for a town the size of Thetford, just off the A1067.

Lifelong gamer, Matt Carding-Woods, recognised an image used on page three of the document as a screenshot from the 2015 city building game, Cities: Skylines, released by studio Colossal Order.

Lanpro defended the image’s use as educational, and said the document was only ever intended to be distributed internally.

Mr Carding-Woods, 33, said: “I’m very familiar with the game and there are a number of things that make it obvious.

“The most glaring are the small patches of brown trees around isolated buildings at the bottom.

“These are incinerators and the game represents the pollution they cause by turning patches of trees around them brown.

“Also to the bottom centre of the image, a section of railway ends in a distinctive curved stub.”

Read more: Revealed: Developer’s eight-page proposal for new 10,000-home town in rural Norfolk

Chris Leeming, managing director of planning consultants Lanpro, at the firm's headquarters in Pottergate, Norwich. Picture: Carl WillimottChris Leeming, managing director of planning consultants Lanpro, at the firm's headquarters in Pottergate, Norwich. Picture: Carl Willimott

Mr Carding-Woods, from Broom Green, less than a mile from the north-west corner of the proposed location for the garden town, said his biggest objection was that Lanpro had not labelled the screenshot as a stock image.

He added: “For a professional developer to take one of these shots and use it as representative of a real development is just downright lazy.

“It’s extremely indicative of just how thoughtless Lanpro have been about this entire development.”

And Mr Carding-Woods, who works as a security guard, said the game is not intended as a “hyper-realistic city management game”.

He said: “It’s striking a balance between realistic and unrealistic.”

Read more: ‘Serious flaws’ in bid to build 10,000-home garden town in Norfolk countryside

Chris Leeming, managing director of Lanpro, said: “We are asking the local authority to allow us to explore the specifics of the scheme through the garden town call for sites process which will involve a full consultation with local people, stakeholders parishes and businesses.

“It is after the detailed technical work and analysis that we will be able to form a masterplan for the proposals and provide an image of what the scheme may look like.”

He added that there have been several examples of the “serious use of this software to model, engage and explain projects,” including by city planners working in Stockholm, Sweden.

Read more: Plans revealed for new 10,000 home Norfolk town

What is Cities: Skylines, and where else has this image been used?

The image used in the Lanpro brochure is from the 2015 city construction game, Cities: Skylines, released by the Finnish gaming studio Colossal Order.

It was shared on Reddit, by the user IVIaarten, in a thread, or subreddit, called r/citiessklylines, titled: “My city so far.”

The description of the group calls it: “A place for the discussion of the game Cities: Skylines.

“Please post your screen shots, questions, feedback, strategies and Cities here.”

User Whitesnowninja commented: “I’ve looked at your city a few times and it’s very impressive.

“I have only just started playing the game and yet to figure out a good planning structure for my city.”

And user a_friendly_hobo added: “For serious, how do you plan out a city like this?”

“Mine always look like a grid when I go for something like this.”

The same image was shared on a Pinterest board called City Design Thoughts.

What do you think about the plans for a new garden town? Email reporter

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