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I wish to add a shapefile to ArcMap that displays a road network which is similar to what you may find on google maps. I dont require a detailed ordnance survey map, just the roads

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Are you working in British National Grid (meters) or WGS8 (lat/lng)? –  Mapperz Jul 13 '11 at 17:22

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I am not sure what "similar to Google maps" means but you can try Open Street Map shapefiles available from Geofabrik. Ordnance Survey also has their OS Open Data but haven't used any of their datasets.

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Indeed there is! Look at the Ordnance Survey Open Data website, and the product you probably want is Meridian 2. It's free to download and use for even commercial exploitation, but check the licence just in case.

It has layers other than roads, but they're in separate shapefiles, so naturally you can ignore them. It's designed for mid-scale mapping, so don't expect very high resolution. You can combine it with OS Locator if you want to do some more complex searching.

You could also try OS Vector District, but I've got a feeling the road layers are derived from Meridian 2 anyway.

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No, Meridian 2 is the older dataset based on Scale: 1:50 000 ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/products/meridian2 Vector District is 1:25 000, with a recommended viewing scale range of 1:15 000 to 1:30 000. –  Mapperz Jul 13 '11 at 17:18
    
Ah! Thanks Mapperz. –  MerseyViking Jul 14 '11 at 8:38

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