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OS policy regarding 'white' and yellow' roads

Request for information – FOI14499


Thank you for your email of 1 October 2014, requesting the following information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000:

What is the OS policy regarding changing a road from yellow to white and checking if ORPA dots (Other Routes with Public Access) should or should not be applied?

Our response

I regret to inform you that Ordnance Survey is unable to help you with your enquiry as we do not hold this information. We do not hold this information because there is no specific OS policy where a road has changed from yellow to no infill, and for determining whether an OPRA (Other Routes with Public Access) should be applied.

However, under our duty to provide advice and assistance as stipulated in Section 16 of the FOIA, we advise that Ordnance Survey sources change intelligence for yellow-filled and uncoloured roads from the local Highways Authority. Based on this change intelligence, Ordnance Survey may change a road colour infill on its 1:25 000 and 1:50 000 scale mapping if such a change would adhere to the following specification:

Road with yellow infill

Only tarred or concrete surfaced public roads maintained by a local authority, or toll roads, are classified. Non-through routes in rural areas, maintained as above, are shown to the limit of public maintenance as perceived by the surveyor at time of revision.

Roads excluded from colour infill

  • Minor roads in urban areas
  • Short lengths of “no through road” which primarily provide means of access to, for example, a small number of dwellings or other premises
  • Short loop roads resulting from road realignments
  • Roads with gravel or other inferior surfaces
  • Private roads and drives
  • Selected important tracks

The depiction of a road, track or path of any description on an Ordnance Survey map is, of itself, no evidence of a public right of way. The omission of the colour fill is in no way intended to indicate a loss of public access or otherwise, simply to convey to the map user a sense of the type, nature and purpose of the road and to help guide the vehicular user as to the appropriateness of the road for motor use.

Ordnance Survey began gathering information to depict ORPA’s (Other Routes with Public Access) in the late 1990s. Our surveyors consulted each local authority’s List of Streets, a list of all of the streets maintained by the local authority, and decided which of these routes would provide a useful addition to the existing rights of way network. These routes would be shown by the ORPA symbol. Not all routes were shown, and we excluded those in urban areas. OS had editorial control over which routes it showed. ORPA’s are added or taken off the mapping on specific request from the local authorities.

There is no specific OS policy where a road has changed from yellow to no infill, and for determining whether an ORPA should be applied. However, if the road that was changed from yellow to no infill connected to an existing ORPA then OS would look into extending the ORPA along the new section of unfilled road to connect with the yellow section of road. This would involve consulting the local authority's List of Streets.

I hope you find the above information is helpful to you.

Internal review

Your enquiry has been processed according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000. If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our FOI Internal Review Officer, by contacting them as follows:

FOI Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
Ordnance Survey
Adanac Drive
SO16 0AS

Email: foi@os.uk

Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:

  • Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
  • Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
  • Failed to provide the information you have requested
  • Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
  • Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception

The FOI Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.

The FOI Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.

Appeal to Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal with the Information Commissioner’s Office at:

The Case Reception Unit
Customer Service Team
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Email: mail@ico.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone helpline: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745 for advice, Monday to Friday.

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