How to get maps for a planning application

Updated March 2020.

All at sea about getting hold of maps for a planning application? Well we thought it would be useful to provide a quick guide to help make sense of it all.

Whether you’re building a house or an entire housing estate, all planning applications need a map called a ‘Location Plan’ showing the proposal in its surrounding context. Some local authorities might also require a ‘Block Plan’ (sometimes called a site plan) which outlines the development in a larger scale, but not necessarily in greater detail.

Every planning application need a map.

If you read the guidance on the Government’s Planning Portal, it’ll tell you that these plans should be based on an up-to-date Ordnance Survey map so that the planning authority can be sure they meet all the necessary requirements.

Submitting an inaccurate, out-of-date, unlicensed, or incorrectly displayed plan is the most common reason for an application being turned down. Getting it wrong will cost you time and money so there is every reason to get it right first time.

So  here’s a checklist to make sure your maps are up to muster…

Site Location Plan

  • Should be at an identified standard scale (normally 1:1250 scale for urban applications or 1:2500 for rural or larger applications)
  • The direction of north must be clearly marked
  • The plans should be accurately scaled to fit A4 or A3 paper.
  • Should show the date of survey or an Ordnance Survey licence number if appropriate and the date of purchase
  • Should show enough roads or buildings on the land surrounding your application
  • Should show the application site boundary outlined in red indicating the extent of all land necessary to carry out the proposed development, including the land you need for site access.
  • A blue line should be drawn around any other land owned by you as the applicant, close to or next to the application site.

The Block plan

The Block Plan should again be drawn at an identified standard metric scale (often 1:200 scale or 1:500). It should show the proposed development in relation to the site boundaries and other existing buildings on site with the dimensions specified including those to the boundaries.

It should also show the direction of north and include the following, unless they would not influence or be affected by the proposed development;

  • All buildings, roads and footpaths on land adjoining the site including access arrangements
  • All public rights of way crossing or adjoining the site
  • The position of all trees on the site and those on adjacent land
  • The extent and the type of any hard surfacing
  • The boundary treatment including walls or fencing where this is proposed.
If that seems like a lot to get right (and it is!), then there is a simple way of making sure you have the correct maps. You can either order through an Ordnance Survey Mapping and Data Centre, or through one of the approved planning map providers.

Each of the Mapping and Data Centres are equipped with dedicated IT systems, linked directly to our database here in Southampton. This ensures they have access to the most up-to-date mapping available so you know you’ll end up with a map that is currently licensed and importantly meets all the planning requirements.

Our advice is don’t run the risk of your application being turned down because you used the wrong map.

There is a lot of other useful information on planning applications on the Direct.gov.uk website, and on the Planning Portal, including guidance on when a planning application is needed and how to fill one out, as well as a tool for locating your local planning authority.

I hope that’s a useful guide, but if you have any thoughts, opinions or advice to share on making a planning application please feel free to leave a comment.

You may also like

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Don’t lose your way with incorrect mapping
How maps help the granting of planning permission
Making the most of property assets with Ordnance Survey

41 Responses

    1. Naeem

      What is the cost of a DWG format for a residential home and will I/my architect require a license as well – what is the cost of this

      1. My comments relate to the fact that you link to the planning portal mapping providers above, however people looks for site plans will often find them cheaper by looking elsewhere. Also some of the sites listed are more focussed on professional users rather than the general public. A google search and some research is highly recommended for anyone wanting to get a good price and wants to order without a frustating experience.

  1. Dave

    Why is the link to mapping and data centre broken?
    Why do you think there are only 4 approved planning map providers. Who has approved them. I know there are many more good providers who have compliant maps.

    1. Melanie

      Hi Dave,
      Thanks for highlighting that the link was broken – we’d been moving some things around and had missed it. It is now fixed.Apologies if it caused you problems.
      The four approved planning map providers mentioned are approved by the Planning Portal which is a Government tool which allows you to submit planning applications online. Tom (above) also highlights that there are other providers, but we have tried to provide information which ensures the mapping used is up-to-date and correct first time.
      Best wishes,

  2. Alex Bennett

    We’ve just purchased some land from a neighbour so that we can build a garage for our property, but have been told (via pre-application advice) we require planning permission. As the land purchase has only just (3 days ago) been finalised, the current ordinance survey maps used by all four planning map providers are out-of-date. Is there a method for informing the ordinance survey that an update is required, and roughly how long might it take for the updated map to be available via the approved planning map providers? Or is this situation common, so the maps are not considered to be out-of-date for planning purposes?

    Which out of curiosity leads me to wonder how out of date a map needs to be to be considered out of date for planning purposes?


    1. Gemma

      Hi Alex

      I’ve passed this on to my colleagues in Customer Services as they’re best placed to answer your series of questions. They’ll get back to you in the next 24 hours.

      Thanks, Gemma

      1. Gemma, I hope that you sorted Alex out with this enquiry, but it did not answer his question, which was “Is there a method for informing the ordinance survey that an update is required”? I regularly supply maps to clients that are not representative of the actual boundaries because the OS mapping needs updating. We need a method of triggering a re-survey. Thanks

  3. Geoff ferguson

    I have a large development next door to myself and on the far side my neighbor for 2 years the developer has used false block plans and has moved my and my neighbors house by 1meter further forward and has claimed a false building line this has been refused 4 times by building control but our council would like it accepted, on questioning, the architect insists these are O/S maps ,these plainly are not is this not illegal to use false documents to gain planning approval

    1. Hi Geoff

      Thanks for the message, but unfortunately we cannot advise you on boundary disputes. Boundary disputes can be complex and you may wish to take legal advice, contact the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) online boundary dispute helpline or see Land Registry guidance on how to find out where the boundary of your property is. There are some useful links available on our website here: https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/support/property-boundaries.html

      Thanks, Gemma

      1. Mike Perry

        Geoff Ferguson’s problem does not seem to be a boundary dispute. Hopefully it’s now all resolved, but what he was reporting was a development based on OS plans which were wrong. What a surprise.

  4. ian foster

    Just purchased a site map from land registry, no preview offered and it is a map of the village! The search did have our address as the criteria?

    1. Hi Ian

      You would need to contact Land Registry to discuss this as you purchased the map from them and it isn’t a service that we offer.

      Many thanks

    1. Hi Jon

      Apologies, I’ll get that fixed now. We updated our website a little while and a lot of links on our old blogs have become broken. I’ve been gradually working through, but hadn’t got back to 2011 as yet.

      Thanks, Gemma

  5. Will

    I’ve just had a disappointing experience when buying a bundle of maps, such as 1:1250 and 1:200, from one of your online partners, GetMapping.

    Although their website clearly states “note that the map that you purchase will cover exactly the area that is showing when you add it to the basket”, this is NOT the case. The 1:200 map will only cover a small square, the placement of which is not indicated when trying to purchase the bundle.

    1. Hi Will

      I’m sorry to hear that and will pass your feedback on to the Partner team too. However, our partners are licensed to resell our data, and when you purchase from them, if there are any issues, you do need to go to them direct to resolve this.

      As above, I will also pass this on to our Partner team to make them aware.

      Many thanks

  6. Ken Morris

    A larger housing development company in our area is using your OS maps for planning permission applications at 1:1000 and dated April 2015. But the OS map does not show changes to existing houses (eg garages, extensions) which were built at least 7 years ago. How can I get the OS to update the maps – 7 or more years seems a very long time with no update?

    1. Hi Ken

      Thanks for getting in touch. Extensions to existing private houses/garages, other minor buildings within private gardens and internal fences, are currently outside our revision policy. Local Authorities and Land Registry are aware of this so it should not affect planning applications or land registration. In the past this type of detail was captured so there may be examples in the surrounding area.

      If you’d like any further information regarding our specification, please contact our Customer Service Centre Helpline on 03456 05 05 05.

      Thanks, Gemma

  7. Mohammad Fiaz

    Hello Dear
    I need A location plan is required. It must be based on a current 1:1250 scale Ordnance Survey
    extract; the application site must be outlined in red; any adjoining land in the applicants
    ownership must be outlined in blue; postal numbers of adjoining properties must be shown,
    and a north point must be included.
    Kindest regards
    Mohammad Fiaz

  8. MichaelC


    Nice article BUT in one sentence you say you need to plot all trees and hard-standing on the block plan. In another you say that purchasing a map from OS (directly or otherwise) would mean compliance with the regulations. Those maps don’t show the position of trees or hard-standing so how can they possibly be compliant?
    Confused as ever!

  9. Kate Attrill

    “Submitting an inaccurate, out-of-date, unlicensed, or incorrectly displayed plan is the most common reason for an application being turned down. Getting it wrong will cost you time and money so there is every reason to get it right first time|”.

    This is a very interesting comment, and I would be really grateful if you could let me know where the data for this has come from. In Wales, the official guidance does not allow applications to be invalidated on any of those grounds – the validation requirements WG specify state ‘a location plan’ and it seems different authorities interpret this differently. I am seeking WG clarification on this matter, but have not had a response yet….

  10. INFORMATION REQUESTS: (1) When was the 2012 “current” Ordnance Survey data (used by HM Land Registry) on the Title Plan for LAN129530 in 2012 first issued to HM Land Registry?
    http://www.ipfraud.info/RegisterPlanLAN129530.pdf (2) When was the 2012 “current” Ordnance Survey data (used by HM Land Registry) on the Title Plan for LAN129530 in 2012 superseded by the data issued to HM Land Registry and used thereby in the creation of a Limitation Plan on 23 July 2013? http://www.ipfraud.info/23JULY2013-land-Registry-to-Houldsworth-page5-LIMITATION-PLAN.pdf http://www.ipfraud.info/16JULY2018-OS-BLOG.pdf

    1. Hi Andrew,
      Thank you for your queries about the publication dates of sections of Ordnance Survey mapping used in the creation of HM Land Registry documentation.

      We are unable to answer any questions about how HM Land Registry produce their plans and therefore when the data used would have been published by Ordnance Survey.

      You have not specified any particular feature(s) of interest, but having looked at the two images you linked to, there appear to be slight differences in text placement: between the positioning of house numbers on Duck Street and Shawbridge Street, the absence of the name ‘Waterloo Road’ on the second plan, and the text ‘Superstore’ and ‘Wellfold’. From what we can see, the detail shown in the ‘LAN141774’ document appears to match our current mapping.

      We do not hold any survey records so we cannot advise why or when these slight differences have occurred.

      I hope that this information is useful.

      Many thanks
      Customer Services

  11. Mike Perry

    “these plans should be based on an up-to-date Ordnance Survey map so that the planning authority can be sure they meet all the necessary requirements.

    Submitting an inaccurate … plan is the most common reason for an application being turned down. Getting it wrong will cost you time and money so there is every reason to get it right first time.”

    So what do I do when the OS 1:1250 map has got the size and shape of my house grossly wrong? I’m sure that submitting an inaccurate plan could well be a very good way to run into problems with a PP application. And I’m expected to PAY for something which is faulty and not fit for purpose?

    I had to laugh (cynically and wearily) at Melanie’s reply of 11/06/2013: “we have tried to provide information which ensures the mapping used is up-to-date and correct first time.”

    Yeah, right.

      1. Mike Perry

        I’ve done that. So that there could be no doubt about the property in question, I added the house number to the map screenshot image which I sent. Unfortunately the person who looked at the query was so dim that they thought my complaint was the map didn’t number my house.

        I’ll be applying for PP some time early next year. If the problem isn’t resolved by then I can’t see that I’ll have any option but to use a “pirated” map as the basis for my own, and I’ll be minded to report all the commercial sellers to Trading Standards regarding their contraventions of consumer protection legislation.

        You may think I’m over reacting, but as you observe in this article, incorrect maps cause applications to be refused, therefore an incorrect map is not fit for purpose, and the Consumer Rights Act 2015 makes it an offence to sell such an item, so if reporting offences is the only way I can get people to pay attention to this, that is what I’ll have to do.

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