A pioneering British aerial photography firm says its high-resolution image service is revolutionising housing sector enforcement of HMOs, beds in sheds and other private rented sector issues.

Leicestershire firm Bluesky says its high-resolution 3D aerial modelling of the UK, which is snapped via super high resolution cameras in planes, can help detect ‘beds in sheds’ and, once more councils are using the service, bring about an end to the practice.

gis mapping tidmarsh

Many building owners and landlords have been able to dodge enforcement until now because their properties are hidden from view but, Bluesky MD Rachel Tidmarsh (pictured) says, her company’s ‘spy in the sky’ means those flouting planning and licensing rules increasingly have nowhere to hide.

One of the councils using its digital 3D and thermal maps is Southwark Council in London within its planning, transport, housing and environment operations.

The extraordinary images, which LandlordZONE has been shown, reveals high-resolution pictures down to 5cm, which can accurately measure property height.

“We have used the 5cm data to investigate issues in the private rented sector including unlicensed properties let in multiple occupation and illegally occupied outhouses ‘beds in sheds’,” says Emma Trott, the council’s Enforcement and Licensing Service Manager.

Evidence and intelligence

The council’s Geographic Information System Manager Stuart Carter, adds: “We regularly have to investigate a building with an old or unregistered address and before we investigate in person we try to gather as much evidence and intelligence as possible.

“The Bluesky data will help us locate sites and get a better understanding of what we may experience when attending.”

Tidmarsh says her company has been working with local authorities for over 20 years largely involving planning but that many other organisations use their imagery including the National Crime Agency, National Valuation Office and the Fire Service.

“The hardware and software we use is moving forward at an incredible pace and its applications are increasing all the time,” she adds. “This includes how many storeys a property has, for example, and its thermal performance.”


  1. I’m not involved in dodgy HMOs etc so not concerned by this.
    BUT it sounds illegal? Filming possibly innocent people and spying on them?


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