Site Investigation for business / professional users

Regulations relating to environmental protection and contaminated land have increased the use of large-scale Ordnance Survey maps for environmental audit. Prospective developers now have to assess environmental factors, including a site history, before any land development can take place. Detailed Ordnance Survey maps are an invaluable source for these site investigations.

We hold virtually complete coverage of large-scale Ordnance Survey maps of Scotland and good, but incomplete, coverage of England and Wales.

Older maps are at scales of 1:10560 and 1:2500 with larger towns at 1:1056 or 1:500.
Modern maps are at scales of 1:10000, 1:2500 and 1:1250.

For further information about the maps available, see Early Ordnance Survey maps of Scotland 1840s-1940s.

How can we help you?

We offer:

Free consultation in the Maps Reading Room of all maps in the collection, including Ordnance Survey paper maps, OS maps on microfilm (SIM - Survey Information on Microfilm - and SuperPlan), and OS digital maps.

Photocopy service. We provide full-sheet photocopies of out-of-copyright paper maps, and copies of other maps subject to copyright regulations (but we cannot provide copies from microfilm, or from digital data for business use).

Fast service. For visitors most maps are retrieved within 10 minutes, depending on the number of readers. Photocopy orders made in person are usually ready for collection by 3.30pm on the next working day. For external users, all written enquiries are answered within 10 days and the fast-stream service can prepare photocopies within 1-2 working days, at an extra charge.

Specialist staff to help you. Our staff are very familiar with the difficulties of identifying old Ordnance Survey maps and will help you to choose the maps you need.

How can you help us?

  • If you are writing to us, please supply the following information:
    1. National Grid reference (6-figure)
    2. Small-scale location map (for example a 1:50,000 map)
    3. Site plan at a larger scale. On the site plan you must show the boundaries of the exact site. Unless you request otherwise, we normally provide maps which cover the site, not its environs. If you also need the surrounding area, you should draw a circle on the site plan to define the radius required. We do not estimate the distance for you.
    4. Scale required. If you do not know the scale, ask staff for advice, or request the largest scale available
    5. Dates required
    6. Do you have a deadline? Do you require the Fast-stream Service?
  • If you are visiting us, it also helps to have as much as possible of the above information.
  • Please make an appointment in advance if you need more than two sites. We have had to introduce an appointment system for multiple site requests because of increased demand. This should save you time, as large requests will not be programmed together, so staff will be more able to help you.
  • Do contact us to discuss your needs before you start a large project. Let us know if you have specific deadlines to meet. We may be able to adapt our working practices, or suggest the best times to visit. For example, for a faster service please avoid visiting between 11.45-14.00 when fewer staff are on duty.
  • Please do not request estimates. If you then request copies at a later date, this entails handling maps twice and the maps are being damaged through overuse. We can give an approximate number of editions, or you can indicate a cost ceiling and we shall contact you if it appears that an order will cost more than your stated amount.
  • If you require photocopies of Ordnance Survey maps less than 50 years old, you must have a letter of permission from the OS. This should state that it is for maps held in libraries (other permission letters or licences are not acceptable) and must also relate to the particular branch of your firm in which you work. According to OS regulations this letter must be shown to us each time you order, but for your convenience we can keep a copy of your current permission on our files so that we have this information if your staff forget to provide it. OS permission letters are usually renewed at the end of June and end of December. Please send us the new permission letters quickly to avoid any delays in providing map copies.

As the volume of site investigations has increased, we have had to introduce some limits, in order to maintain the service to all our users:

  • You may request a maximum of six sites (or 50 maps) per firm per day visit. This means that if you send two staff, three sites each will be provided.
  • You may request a maximum of five sites per written enquiry - but our reply will be quicker if you request one site per enquiry. Large orders (over 10 photocopies) may be subject to a handling charge.
  • Photocopies are provided subject to copyright and conservation restrictions.

Services for business / professional users

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