Using GIS to plan for housing growth

Ordnance Survey (OS) mapping enabled a local council to build an accurate picture of sites, which could be redeveloped for housing

Ordnance Survey (OS) mapping enabled a local council to build an accurate picture of sites, which could be redeveloped for housing.

Broxtowe Borough Council used OS MasterMap to overlay relevant data and build a detailed and precise picture of local authority sites with potential for housing development.

This case study explains the huge advantages of using the new data: not only can the information be viewed throughout the planning process and by the public, it also saved around six months of staff costs.

  • 1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster
  • OS MasterMap Topography Layer
  • OS VectorMap District
  • OS VectorMap Local


  • Identifying and classifying local authority sites that have the potential to be re-developed for housing.
  • Evaluating these sites against known constraints on their development.
  • Producing a Strategic Housing Land Availability assessment (SHLAA) to include the above information.
  • Writing the local plan to be more scientific, accurate and therefore more defensible at public examination.


The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) is a requirement of local authority planning policy teams nationwide, so it makes sense to use the most efficient method possible.

Using GIS, and datasets from OS, Broxtowe Borough Council overlaid its comprehensive database of SHLAA sites, including planning applications, developer submissions and public canvassing – onto the OS MasterMap Topography Layer.

The extent of the site is numbered and put onto this accurate map backdrop so officers can calculate constraints (such as flooding), deliverability and potential housing numbers on any identified site.

Sites are published online, with OS MasterMap Topography Layer for the public to quickly and easily view, filter and interrogate the information.


  • With GIS and OS mapping, the analysis takes just hours, saving the planning team up to six months of officer time.
  • Information can be used throughout the whole planning process.
  • Broxtowe Council was selected as a ‘pilot authority’ for creating a register of brownfield sites.
  • Broxtowe Council can move forward efficiently and confidently to the plan examination stage.
  • Public transparency and ease of use for local residents.

"OS Data is essential to provide accurate and up-to-date information on all of our sites and without this the finished document would be lower quality, would be much more difficult to extract information from, would be less user friendly and would add time, complexity and expense to our upcoming Local Plan Examination"

Steffan Saunders, Head of Neighbourhoods, Broxtowe Borough Council

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Products and solutions featured in this study

  • 1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster

    1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster is the digital alternative to Ordnance Survey's OS Explorer paper map series for Great Britain.

  • OS MasterMap Topography Layer

    A map dataset of Great Britain's landscape – from roads to fields, to buildings and trees, fences, paths and more.

  • OS VectorMap District

    OS VectorMap® District is an open basemap to overlay and visualise your own information on.

  • OS VectorMap Local

    OS VectorMap® Local is a highly-detailed, customisable, street-level map, showing fences, building outlines, paths and street names.