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

Memorandum by Royal Town Planning Institute (OS 26)


  1.  The planning system utilises Ordnance Survey material in two particular ways:

    —  In the making of planning applications and appeals and other site specific consents or orders and

    —  In the preparation and publication of local authority development plans.


  2.  The Town and Country Planning (Applications) Regulations 1988 require that an application for planning permission shall:

    (a)  be made on a form provided by the local planning authority;

    (b)  include the particulars specified in the form and be accompanied by a plan which identifies the land to which it relates and any other plans and drawings and information necessary to describe the development which is the subject of the application; and

    (c)  except where the authority indicate that a lesser number is required, be accompanied by three copies of the form and the plans and the drawings submitted with it.

  The local planning authority may direct an applicant in writing to supply any further information necessary to determine the application.

  3.  There is no statutory requirement for the plan which identifies the land to be on an OS map. However, in practice this is the preferred approach and is encouraged by individual local planning authorities' application forms. In urban areas these generally seek 1:1,250 site plans, as these show house numbers. This enables a properly scaled and authoritative map to be available both to the local planning authority and to those notified or consulted on the application.

  4.  The Planning Inspectorate's appeal forms similarly require "a plan showing the site outlined in red ... (preferably on a copy of a 1:10,000 Ordnance Survey map)".

  5.  OS maps to accompany applications and plans may be purchased from an OS Mapping Reseller. Many consultant chartered town planners and other development agents will have taken out their own licences with the OS. In addition, many local planning authorities have licences from the OS which enable them to make copies available to those making planning applications. In each case, the copies will be marked to indicate the OS as the source and that no further copies should be made.


  6.  The local authority is allowed by the OS to make a reasonable administrative charge for this service. These seem to vary widely between authorities. The Institute is, for example, aware of one authority that charges £13.88 for five A4 copies and of another that charges £27 for six copies to accompany a planning application.

  7.  At the general level, the Institute has long been concerned that the Government has not sought to properly regulate the charges that local planning authorities may make for the copying of planning material, whether for applicants or third parties. It recommends that the Committee may wish to consider the recharging rates for OS material in that wider context, perhaps when it looks further at various elements of the Planning Green Paper. The issue has particular topicality in the development of the Planning Portal and other e-government initiatives designed to make planning and other statutory activities directly accessible on the Internet without requiring either visits to local authority offices or correspondence to obtain material.


  8.  The Town and Country Planning (Development Plan) (England) Regulations 1999 require maps in unitary development plans, local plans and minerals and waste local plans. (Section 6(1) states that these shall be "reproduced from, or based upon, an Ordnance Survey map").


  9.  Most local authorities have entered into a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the OS. Typically the SLA provides the local authority with digital mapping data for use on computer systems comprising the 1:250 land line and various data sets for 1:10,000 and 1:50,000-scale mapping. In urban contexts 1:500 scale maps will be often used for redevelopment schemes. The full range of OS digital mapping data products is large and includes datasets for the implementation of geographic information systems (GIS). Local authorities that cannot handle digital mapping data can still be provided with OS mapping on paper.

  10.  The SLAs are ordinarily flexible and designed to meet the needs of the user by offering various combinations over and above the basic supply of digital or printed mapping, this is reflected in the cost of the licence to the local authority.

  11.  The terms of the licence state that the local authority can use the mapping for their own legitimate business use. The authority is required to appoint an Ordnance Survey Liaison Officer. OS mapping data or printout of that data must not be distributed, with or without charge, to third parties except for the purpose of making planning/licensing applications. The local authority is allowed to make a reasonable administrative charge for this service.

  12.  For any work which requires the publication of OS map based information, for instance the local plan or footpath leaflets etc, a royalty must be paid for each hard copy printed by the local authority. The authority is allowed to recoup this cost by charging for the printed information. This royalty is usually calculated and agreed with the OS, using formulas based on the area of the printed sheets.

  13.  All hard copies of OS mapping must carry a copyright notice. The local authority is required under the SLA to implement measures to prevent illegal copying and distribution of all mapping supplied, especially in the e-government age with the transmission of data through the Internet. As indicated above, some local authorities have been appointed to act as an Authorised Mapping Reseller.


  14.  Local authorities are able to supply OS mapping to town and parish councils so long as the mapping information required is directly related to the SLA holder's business, thus including consultation on planning applications. However, town and parish councils should make their own arrangements with the OS, or an authorised OS mapping reseller if they require mapping for their own purposes.

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Prepared 24 June 2002