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Submitting an inaccurate, out-of-date, unlicensed, or incorrectly displayed plan is the most common reason for an application being turned down.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…

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Tubular Fells

When I was up in the Lake District earlier this year I came across a new map of the Wainwright Fells and thought that today I would share it with you on the Ordnance Survey blog. The map is called Tubular Fells.

The Tubular Fells map is based on Henry Beck's iconic London Underground map.

The Tubular Fells map is based on Henry Beck’s iconic London Underground map.

The map has been inspired by Harry Beck and his famous schematic map of the London Underground that was produced initially in 1931. Peter Burgess, a London base Geography teacher, has taken the idea of this iconic map and creating a new one based on the Lakeland Fells shown in the Wainwright guides.

Having lived in London for nearly 20 years, Beck’s map was something Burgess was very familiar with. As a keen fell walker and being a Geographer by trade – he thought to himself “I could make a fells map like Beck’s” – and so he did (after about 10 years of thinking about it and a few weeks sat in front of a computer).

So what’s on the map? In addition to the Fells there are also all 17 of the lakes that give the Lake District it’s name. You’ve also got the Coast to Coast, Cumbria Way and Dales Way along with the wheelchair accessible route to the summit of Latrigg and other identifiable features that you’d come across on the route (for example the Skiddaw House bunkhouse). As in the London Underground map where there are connections with ferry services – so there are also ferry connections shown on this map. The fells are connected by a coloured line (as in the style of Beck’s London Underground map) – with each colour corresponding to the relevant colour of Wainwright’s pictorial guides. Read More


The truth about ticks

Today's blog post comes from Wendy Fox, Director & Chairperson of BADA-UK

Today’s blog post comes from Wendy Fox, Director & Chairperson of BADA-UK

Today on the Ordnance Survey blog we have a guest post from Wendy Fox from BADA-UK.

As summer (such as it is) progresses, many of us are getting out and about to enjoy the great outdoors. Of course, there are many health and safety aspects that we should be aware of (such as preparing for adverse weather and preventing walking/running injuries etc.) but how many people think about ticks when it comes to getting out and about?

Vampire ticks: The scourge of the countryside! Are they really that dangerous? Well the press would have us believe so, with recent headlines such as, “Alert over rise in killer ticks”, and “The European Invader that’s after your blood”.  Although not quite relatives of Dracula, lurking in every darkened corner, ticks are blood-sucking parasites and they can transmit a range of diseases to people, domestic animals and wildlife. Read More


Mapping experts set to arrive in Southampton

Senior representatives and leaders from mapping organisations from across the world are about to descend on Southampton next week.

They’re here for the The Cambridge Conference – so named because of its historic ties to the city – which this year is taking place at our new head office in Southampton. It is a unique occasion, giving top international experts the chance to discuss developments in mapping, changes in technology and issues of global importance.

Professor Nigel Shadbolt will be chairing a session on open data

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Award for OS VectorMap District

The beta release of OS VectorMap District was voted winner in its category at the 2011 British Cartographic Society Awards which form part of the society’s annual symposium.

The judges awarded us Winner of the 2011 Avenza Award for Electronic Mapping.

The award was presented to two of our cartographers at the event’s gala dinner at Shrigley Hall, near Macclesfield. The panel of highly regarded cartographers described our entry as ‘a top-quality base map that is clear and easy to use, displaying class-leading cartography’.

Charley, Paul, Bob and Chris with the award. Image courtesy of Martin Lubikowski, ML Design.

Charley, Paul, Bob and Chris with the award. Image courtesy of Martin Lubikowski, ML Design.

OS VectorMap District is a map on which you can overlay your own information. It can also be customised by selecting and styling different features in different ways. Ideal for creating web applications, OS VectorMap District contains only the most important information to give you a clear, uncluttered backdrop map. 

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We’re 220 years old today

On this day in 1791, Ordnance Survey was born. Our arrival was marked by the payment of the princely sum £373.14s to Jesse Ramsden for a three-foot theodolite. That purchase was made at the request of the Master General, the 3rd Duke of Richmond, and is now generally accepted as the founding action of the Ordnance Survey.

Surveyors from Ordnance Survey in the mid nineteenth century.

That theodolite, and others like it, were used to map the south east coast of Britain for fear of invasion by the French, and ever since then, all the way through to the modern digital age, Ordnance Survey has played a constant role charting the changing face of the nation.

Today, to mark the anniversary, dignitaries and senior military officials from the Royal Engineers, will gather to dedicate our new War Memorial which remembers the sacrifice of the 123 Ordnance Survey staff who gave their lives during the two World Wars.

The design of the memorial echoes the iconic shape of an Ordnance Survey trig pillar.

It should be quite a spectacle.

The presence of the Royal Engineers harks back to our military origins, where that fear of invasion promoted the Board of Ordnance, the Ministry of Defence of the day, to order a  survey of the south east – hence our rather unusual name.

EastEnders 1801 – an extract of the first Ordnance Survey map printed in 1801.

The art of map making subsequently played a major role in both World Wars, with Ordnance Survey staff being dispatched to map the trenches throughout The Great War, whilst during World War II some 342 million maps were printed for use by the Allied forces.

By 1944 maps were off the presses and in the hands of men at the front within 24 hours.

So it’s a day to remember our past, but given that the ceremony is in the grounds of our new head office, it will be a unique mix of old and new.


New mapping tool for councils launched

The Homes and Communities Agency has launched a mapping portal that it hopes will help local councils to make better informed decisions when planning new homes and other local services.

SIGnet – the Spatial Intelligence Geographic Network – is a free online GIS resource that brings together our data, as well as that from the Office for National Statistics, local councils themselves, and the Environment Agency, all in a single place.

It’s been launched following testing by 11 local authorities over a 7 month pilot period and displays spatially referenced data – whether that’s a site boundary, local population data, or the location of a specific hospital or school, so that councils can identify relationships between those datasets and make better decisions.

Natalie Wesley, Infrastructure & Development Manager at HCA, told me that early adopters were already seeing the benefits in a range of areas; “Our users are suggesting a range of uses such as sharing community mobile library bus routes, mapping accessibility for rural locations, asset rationalisation, land ownership boundary audits and the identification of opportunities for shared services.

“We think that the action of bringing datasets together from different sources and holding them in a common format is where the power of the system lies.”

Accessible for free to members of the Public Sector Mapping Agreement, SIGnet has been designed to promote data sharing across central and local government. And making it web-based puts spatial analysis within reach of non-specialists and organisations that don’t have the resources to maintain a full geographic information system, although Natalie was keen to point out that all organisations, GIS literate or otherwise, could benefit from it.

Oliver Russell, GIS Project Officer at Hampshire County Council, helped test SIGnet during the pilot phase: “Clearly we already know how many homes we have in the County, or schools, or hospitals; but SIGnet allows us to drill down to individual street level and present data in an easy to use format – such as a map or plan – that anyone can understand. We tested SIGnet and were impressed by its potential not least as an extremely useful tool, but also because it could save us money on buying GIS resource.”

So, SIGnet sounds like an extremely useful resource, particularly for broadening the use of geographic information, and it’s an early example of how the PSMA is helping to tear down boundaries between organisations and encourage greater data sharing and collaboration – both in and outside of an organisation.

Natalie concludes: “Allowing staff to view and present spatial data in a very user friendly way reduces the pressure on a GIS team and makes the data feel owned by all – rather than behind GIS gatekeepers. At the HCA, we’ve found that sharing and increasing access to spatial data inside our own organisation has been as important as making it available to our partners.”

Any PSMA members that want to sign up to use SIGnet should email them at SIGnet@hca.gsx.gov.uk

And if you’re using the service already, or were one of the councils asked to pilot it, let us know what you think.


The trouble with sat nav…

You might be surprised to know that one of the most common enquires that comes into our customer service team is around the use of sat navs. Yes, fielding questions about the super useful but oft blamed navigational aid takes up a sizable amount of our time.

Questions range from people wondering whether an in-car sat nav makes a decent walking guide (the answer is no!) to asking for helping setting one up (best to contact the manufacturer) and questioning why a particular route has been chosen (again, best to talk to the manufacturer).

Sat navs have changed how many of us plan journeys.

But of course, we are involved in the sat nav industry, supplying some of the underlying data, and so it’s worth explaining our role in a little more detail.

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