Site location plan

Basic requirements

Most applications require that one copy of a site location plan is included, two copies are required if the application site is in a parish.

The basic requirements for a site location plan to accompany an application are:

  • Use an up-to-date Ordnance Survey base map where possible.
  • The map should be of suitable size, scale and coverage to show the location of the site in relation to its surroundings. If given a choice, standard sizes are:
    • Size - A4 (A3 may be be more suitable for very large sites)
    • Scale - 1:1250 (1:2500 may be more suitable for very large sites)
    • Coverage (4 hectares - 40,000 square metres)
  • The site boundary needs to be drawn in red.
  • Any adjacent land owned by the applicant should be outlined in blue.

Example site location plan [pdf document]

Obtaining maps

The use of maps is restricted by copyright and the use of photocopied maps is generally prohibited. It is an offence to use illegal copies of maps, and maps issued for use with a particular application may not be re-used in subsequent applications.

There are a number of suppliers in the UK from which Ordnance Survey maps suitable for use in planning applications can be obtained.

These can be bought online directly from Ordnance Survey [external link]. 

The Planning Portal [external link] provides a service which allows the site boundary to be drawn onscreen by the purchaser before supplying the map as a JPG file.  Several alternative sizes and coverages are offered.  Please select the '4-hectares' option if possible.

When obtaining maps from any source please ensure that they are appropriate for their intended use as site location plans. 

There are some rare cases where an O.S. map is not suitable, such as an application to build a conservatory on a new house.  If the house is less than six months old, it probably does not yet appear on the Ordnance Survey map base.  If so, a developer's plan (a plan, showing the layout of a street or estate, given to the buyer of a new house by the developer) would be accepted in place of an O.S. map.  Please check with us first.  Under normal circumstances, non-OS plans will not be accepted.

Please note that it is not acceptable to use a Land Registry plan as a substitute for a site plan. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that the coverage is always insufficient and the map base is rarely up-to-date.

The site boundary

The site boundary needs to be indicated in red on the site location plan.

As a general rule, the site boundary should be the same as the property boundary.  This will be true for the vast majority of planning applications and the red boundary will correspond to the curtilage of the property.  For example, in the case of an application to build an extension to a semi-detached house, the boundary is not an outline of the proposed extension or even of the house itself, but should encompass all of the land associated with the dwelling.  This includes all gardens, yards and outbuildings associated with the property.  The red line should follow the party wall and garden fence which separates the land from adjacent properties.

In most cases, the boundary will correspond to various lines on the map base, so drawing the boundary is simply a case of tracing over these lines, once the appropriate lines are identified.  Sometimes however, parts of the boundary do not correspond to any lines on the map base (for example open plan front gardens).  If so, then it will be necessary to estimate visually where the boundary should lie.  Please try to be as precise as possible when drawing these lines.

If in doubt about the position of any parts of a property boundary, it may be necessary to consult the deeds of the property.  In most cases however the boundary should be fairly obvious.  At the very least, the site boundary should encompass the whole of the proposed development area.


There are some instances where the red boundary should differ from the boundary of the property

  • Developments taking place on farmland are a particular exception.  The boundary of the entire farm is usually not particularly relevant.  If the main farmhouse is the subject of the application, then the logical boundary to use is the boundary of the farmyard.  If the farmhouse is enclosed separately away from other farm buildings, then that enclosure should be the boundary.  Similarly, other enclosed areas within the farm provide convenient boundaries in applications for agricultural developments.  In the case of a piece of farmland or paddock being set aside for new dwellings or the conversion of agricultural buildings to dwellings, the site boundary is taken to be whatever the boundary of the dwellings will become after they are constructed. 
  • If a field or paddock is attached to a residential property, it is normally excluded unless the application affects it. 
  • For schools, playing fields should normally be excluded unless they are affected by the application.  As with farms, an enclosed group of buildings often provides an obvious boundary.  For large schools, within which many extensions and alterations occur over the years, if only a small section or wing of a large building is affected, then the red outline should only include the block or wing affected by the development.  
  • Similarly, for large commercial complexes on which many small developments are likely to take place over the years, it will be more useful to mark the area affected by the development rather than the entire complex.  
  • In the case of an application for the erection of a telecommunications mast, or any other development which has no functional relationship with the property on which it lies, the red boundary should mark out the new development only.  
  • If the entire development is to take place on a part of the site which is to be split off with the intention of it becoming a separate property, then the red boundary should define the curtilage of the proposed new property rather than that of the original property (unless the original property is also affected by the proposal).  
  • If the application involves two or more adjacent properties being merged into one, then the boundary should encompass the whole of the two properties.  
  • New proposed access paths that lie outside of the property boundary should be included as part of the application site (assuming these are included as part of the same application).  
  • Any proposed associated works beyond the property but below ground level, such as utility supply cables and pipes, are normally excluded if the ground surface is intended to be restored after works are completed.  
  • In applications for Listed Building Consent, particularly for a large building or complex, often the boundary of the building itself will be more appropriate than that of the entire property, unless the boundary walls are also listed or the building has been extended or the proposal involves an extension.  However, for any small self-contained property, the entire property boundary is more relevant.

The importance of a site location plan

It needs to be emphasised that the purpose of a site location plan is not merely to identify the property and pinpoint its location.  A site location plan is important for the following reasons:

  • A map showing the site in relation to its immediate surroundings provides much of the basic geographic information needed for the assessment of an application and is often the first item we look at.  It is therefore important that the map coverage is such that the site lies at the centre of the plan rather than near the edge.
  • Whenever planning permission is granted, the decision will legally apply to (and only to) the plot of land as it has been specified in the submitted application.  It is therefore essential that there is no ambiguity about what is to be included within the application site and indeed what is to be excluded.  This is particularly important in Change of Use applications.
  • Planning application records are retained over several decades for cross-referencing and search purposes.  For each application we receive, we are obliged to check our existing records for previous applications either on, overlapping with or adjacent to the same site.  We also check against various other geographic data that may be relevant to the application.  As many of these checks are done visually, it is imperative that we are clear and precise about the location of the site boundary for all applications.

Please note that a site location plan, the purpose of which is to show how the site itself lies within its surroundings, is not the same as a site layout plan, which shows details of the various elements within the site. 

Exceptions:  tree and advertising applications

With some types of applications (such as tree pruning, tree felling or displaying of advertising signs) a separate site plan is not normally obligatory as long as the site is not otherwise difficult to identify.  A clear sketch is usually sufficient and space is provided for this on the back of the form.  In the case of a tree application, it needs to show the position of the tree(s) in relation to nearby buildings, fence lines and other trees.  The drawing does not need to be to scale, but a few distance measurements would be helpful.  For an advertisement sign, not only its position but its size needs to be indicated.

Please note that these types of application are a special case and a separate site plan is required for almost all other types of application.