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Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex C


  Ordnance Survey does not have a specific role in the planning process, but its maps and data are used by many who are intimately involved in that process eg Central Government, Local Authorities, Architects, Property professionals and individual citizens.

  Currently, the Ordnance Survey database represents the built environment only. It is important therefore that its surveyors are aware of planned change before it happens, so that the database can be updated as soon as possible after the development takes place. Many customers of large scale data and mapping would like information about planned development to be held also in the database. As a result, one of the additional layers to be incorporated into OS MasterMap will be a pre-build layer that will provide this information.

  Information about planned change is available from a number of sources, but ultimately the primary source for approved planning applications, is the Local Authority community. Many Ordnance Survey field offices have excellent working relationships with their Local Authority planning department that facilitates the supply of planning data and intelligence. There are though no formal consistent standards guiding the frequency, content and quality of this information exchange. Ordnance Survey complements the raw Local Authority data with data purchased from commercial companies who specialise in collating planning information from Local Authorities and adding value before marketing the result to interested parties.

  Ordnance Survey is also managing a project with the primary objective of identifying a consistent source of fit-for-purpose planning information on a national basis. The goal is to provide a web-based information system that will provide a consistent quality of data to Ordnance Survey field staff to enable them to schedule their work effectively and increase productivity further. This source can also be used to help populate the pre-build layer within OS MasterMap.

  A more detailed source of information about the nature of individual developments is the architectural, property development, building and construction sectors. Ordnance Survey has developed a service known as CODES (Collection of Data from External Sources) such that design data is transformed into National Grid co-ordinates and stored in the database as a separate layer. The amount of data collected through the CODES project is increasing as Ordnance Survey concludes agreements with more suppliers of such data. This design data is therefore held in the correct co-ordinate relationship to existing as-built data. Until now, this design data has not been released to customers until the development is physically under construction or complete and Ordnance Survey has verified the design data. There are plans to start making this data available soon, as an embryonic pre-build layer.

  In the longer term, Ordnance Survey aims to acquire design data at an earlier stage than it does today. It is likely that data from the property professional community will contain information that has not yet been submitted for planning approval. Ordnance Survey has a target to obtain pre-build data for at least 50 per cent of major developments by 2004. The pre-build layer will therefore become an important input to the planning process, enabling developers to put their applications in the context of the existing built environment. The potential for increasing speed to market and meeting customers needs for up-to-date information is extremely high, as is the potential for speeding up the planning and land registration processes.

  In addition to the property professionals, individuals make use of Ordnance Survey maps in the planning process. They can buy small extracts of large scale maps from the Ordnance Survey network of Superplan Agents, or from some of the value-added partners who enhance Ordnance Survey digital data to provide products suitable for the planning process, or from some Local Authorities under a service jointly agreed between Ordnance Survey and the Authorities.

  In September 2000, Ordnance Survey introduced a new Pay As You Use pricing structure for small extracts of mapping that makes it easier for customers to acquire the small extracts most appropriate to planning applications and appeals. The scheme through Local Authorities generates a fixed return to Ordnance Survey for A4 and A5 graphics. The Pay As You Use tariff also sets out the return to Ordnance Survey for different areas of mapping. In neither case can Ordnance Survey set the end-user price. There are low run-on prices for additional copies of the original map.

  There are many other instances of Ordnance Survey working with Local Authorities, but one such instance specifically relevant to the Sub-Committee's inquiry is in the area of Rights of Way. It is Local Authorities who maintain the definitive maps of Rights of Way, not Ordnance Survey, but there is regular liaison to ensure that the depiction is accurate. Ordnance Survey uses information from the definitive map to depict Rights of Way information on the Explorer and Landranger series in England and Wales. The concept of a Right of Way is different in Scotland.

  Management and depiction of Rights of Way information is a complex subject. There are Rights of Way that are clearly related to existing paths, tracks, roads etc on the ground, there are Rights of Way that cannot be related and there are many existing paths, tracks and roads that are not Rights of Way.

  Although large scale mapping and data can be used to analyse the routes of some Rights of Way more effectively, Rights of Way do not form part of the specification of the large scale data. Ordnance Survey and the Local Authorities will continue to work together to provide the best possible service for Rights of Way depiction.

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Prepared 24 June 2002