OS MasterMap Topography Layer upgrade

To help you work smarter, we’re enriching the content of our most detailed topographic data.

This will let you manage your assets more efficiently, identify new commercial opportunities and provide better information to your customers or the public.

With this upgrade, you’ll get more information about structures like bridges and telecommuncations masts. In rural areas, agricultural land is now identified. And around Britain’s 11,800km of coastline, you’ll be able to query and display foreshore detail, such as boulders, mud and shingle.

We’re introducing new styling options and improving our data fulfilment processes.

What’s happening

In March 2017, we released version 9 of the OS MasterMap Topography Layer data schema and upgraded our fulfilment system.  These changes pave the way for the enhanced descriptive terms data we’re rolling out from the summer.

About the planned changes

We previously communicated a release plan featuring four different rollout groups over six releases. However, following customer feedback, we are keen to get this new content out as soon as possible.

We have therefore revised our processes and are planning to phase in the enhancements over five releases, starting in summer 2017. We are keen to share the exact plan with customers as soon as possible, but are waiting for testing to complete before we publish exact details.

There will be no new descriptive terms content before July 17 at the earliest.

Are you ready for the new content?

Here's how you can prepare for the new content releases:

  • Check with your software supplier that the version of the software you’re running supports schema 9.
  • Download the new descriptive terms sample data and explore what it offers you. At the same time, you can download sample data for the schema and fulfilment changes, without the new descriptive terms.

If you have questions at any stage, please contact your account manager or post on our OS MasterMap Toography Layer forum, which is closely monitored by our product management team.

The upgrade in detail

We’re enriching OS MasterMap Topography Layer by adding 76 new descriptive terms, such as cattle grid, cave and crane. With 11 million more real-world features identified, you can tag and analyse your assets more precisely. For example, posts are now labelled individually, so you can use this data to work out how many you own and, in your asset records, log any that need replacement.

Structures descriptive group
Structure becomes a descriptive group attribute in Schema 9. This means real-world features such as chimneys, footbridges and tanks no longer share the label structure but are now individually identified.

Agricultural land now depicted
This upgrade identifies ‘Agricultural Land’ – areas of land with a main purpose of growing crops or keeping livestock. Along with additional foreshore and land-fill descriptive term attributes, this makes land use much clearer.

Coincident tide-lines
These new descriptive terms reflect that water always fills docks used by larger ships, even at low tide. This means the quayside tidal range and can only be measured vertically – high and low tide are co-incident. The Mean High Water (Springs) term will appear with the descriptive terms for Mean Low Water (Springs) or other features such as Groyne or Building Outline, when co-incident, giving a clearer depiction of tidal range.

Full list of descriptive term enhancement combinations (Nov 2016)


We’re introducing new styling options for both current and upgraded Topography Layer including style sheets in SLD, LYR and QML.

These are available on GitHub, supported by version control, user guides and release notes.

Styling resources:

Sample data

We’ve been working with our partners and software vendors to ensure they’re ready for these changes. If you create your own software or systems to translate Topography Layer, this change could affect you, so please test this sample data.

Sample data showing the new content for the Exeter area is now available. Download it now

At the same time, you can download sample data that shows the fulfilment and schema changes (it contains no new descriptive terms content).

Better information on land type is useful to us, as it affects the maintenance of buried assets.

— A Topography Layer customer