NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum


As part of the UK planning system when requesting planning permission, a location map must be provided. Has anyone managed to use OpenStreetMap for this, rather than having to buy one from the OS?

asked 04 Sep '14, 17:09

ringi's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 04 Sep '14, 21:57

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦

My dad tried that when he was designing an extension. Well he wasn't trying to use OpenStreetMap. This was more than 10 years ago. He tried saying that he would produce the map himself, conducting a detailed and precise survey of the area. He's an architect, and knows how to do such a survey, so he made these various arguments quite vigorously to Kirklees Council planning department.

But the answer was "no". Not allowed. It has to be Ordnance Survey.

You have to show your plans on two copies of Ordnance Survey MasterMap for the area, which they will happily license to you (for about £70 if I remember correctly) It's presented as the purchase of maps from Ordnance Survey, but of course the planning department themselves will cream off a hefty administration fee on all these transactions.

Council planning departments get a sweet revenue stream out of this. And the closed data merry-go-round of UK planning applications, is complete when you consider that they are then required to submit updates (detailed building outlines) back to Ordnance Survey.

When debating whether OS data should be free and open, the question always comes up "who will pay for all the surveying work they do?", but the truth is they don't really do much of their own surveying. They just sit there and receive updates from all the local councils. Managing the movement of money and licensing and sending threatening letters keeps a lot of people in work I'm sure, but none of this would be necessary if the data was free and open, and it wouldn't be necessary to pay for maps when submitting a planning application. </rant>

permanent link

answered 05 Sep '14, 17:11

Harry%20Wood's gravatar image

Harry Wood
accept rate: 14%

edited 05 Sep '14, 17:17


Actually it doesn't appear that OSGB actually update MasterMap with these type of planning changes. I've looked in detail (local knowledge, MasterMap, council planning applications) at a small area I know well, which I could use Bing and wandering about to cross check:

(05 Sep '14, 17:27) SK53 ♦

Just for completeness I subsequently had it confirmed by a senior OSGB employee that extensions were out-of-scope for MasterMap, although I also believe this has changed recently.

(02 Sep '20, 13:27) SK53 ♦

I have heard that in the USA, where government mapping data is freer, there isn't money for updates. This has made me a little more tolerant of Ordnance Survey Map costs.

(03 Sep '20, 13:33) andy mackey

Yes, I have, twice (in both cases with West Oxfordshire District Council).

There is no legal requirement that the map must be Ordnance Survey. Nor is there a requirement that the map has to have exact kerb lines etc. See this helpful guide, which in turn links to a page on with links to the legislation. If planning officers tell you only OS is acceptable, they are trying it on. Ask for them to point to the piece of legislation that says it must be. They won't find it.

You'll need to make sure that all buildings are present and correct, that road centrelines are present and properly labelled, that the map is output at the required scales, and that the site is outlined in red as required. I used an OSM PDF basemap and then put the relevant paraphernalia around the edge in Illustrator, but there are doubtless many other tools you could use.

Here's one of the maps I produced and used successfully.

successful planning application with OSM

permanent link

answered 02 Sep '20, 11:13

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦
accept rate: 18%

OS Master map is extremely detailed down to the kerbs and boundary walls. While OSM is great many areas don't have that kind of micro-mapping and where it does often it has been armchair mapped to imaginary which hasn't been aligned to a reference point.

You'd have to do a lot of work to prove OSM as as good as the official map.

permanent link

answered 02 Sep '20, 10:58

DevonshireBoy42's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

No. But I don't see any reason why not. I would use Maperative to produce an image of the map you require from OSM and then import this into a drawing package to draw the "red" area that defines the location of the application.

permanent link

answered 05 Sep '14, 07:13

dud1's gravatar image

accept rate: 30%

... or have a look at the OSM wiki about or

also do a search on this FAQ site for the keyword "print"

(05 Sep '14, 16:58) stephan75

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text]( "title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported

Question tags:


question asked: 04 Sep '14, 17:09

question was seen: 7,512 times

last updated: 03 Sep '20, 13:33

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum