I noticed that there's another question related to this topic, but the question was related to US data.

I'm looking at the possibility of producing an interactive map for a UK based city, which would benefit from an overlay describing the building footprints in the city centre.

Does anyone know of a good source for this information? Ideally the source would be free, but commercial suppliers could also be considered.

Many thanks in advance.

2 Answers 2


Although previously expensive, Ordnance Survey MasterMap (Topography Layer) is now available for free for certain uses (making apps, products and services for third parties, and for internal business use) through the OS Maps API

Scale 1:1250-1:2500 (Full GB Coverage including rural areas)

Topography Layer is a detailed, intelligent, geographic database. It contains almost half a billion features from the built and natural landscape of Britain.

An Alternative is http://www.theukmap.co.uk/ukmap/base/

Scale 1:1000 (limited coverage major cities) Basic Land and Property Units (BLPUs) are provided to enable identification of single property units for improved service delivery. (Cheaper than above)

OpenStreetMap is a good free alternative to both but you will be limited to major city centres for building outlines.

http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OSM-3D#Buildings (footprints)

  • 3
    Thanks for the information. My requirements are actually quite simple, I need outlines of commercial premises only - and the number of relevant buildings isn't likely to exceed 350. It sounds as if the OS(urvey) solution might provide too much detail at too much cost. Perhaps drawing the outlines myself might be the better solution .. and I could contribute the outlines back to the OpenStreetMap project. Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 15:41

Ordnance Survey, Open Data

Just found out about this service, so thought I'd add an answer as an alternative. Building footprints are included at the most detailed levels - although all buildings are rendered as homogenised blobs.

After reading the licensing information it appears that the data can be adapted - so tracing might be an option.

"These terms have been aligned to be interoperable with any Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence. This means that you may mix the information with Creative Commons licensed content to create a derivative work that can be distributed under any Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence."

License info here

Cached Version of OpenData (& data converted to WGS84) available at:


  • Opendata VectorMap District is very limited in content (vs the paid for version)
    – Mapperz
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 17:29
  • Mysociety has a better portal than the OS for Opendata parlvid.mysociety.org:81/os
    – Mapperz
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 17:30
  • commercial premises only > not in the FREE version of VectorMap district. data only (Settlement_Area.shp) 25014 Building Polygon 25013 Glasshouse Polygon
    – Mapperz
    Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 17:37
  • @Mapperz; I did a quick scan of the Open Data maps in the OS viewer .. and saw a lot of buildings had been added on what looked like a raster layer. By 'not in the free version', do you mean that while buildings outlines are added, there's no differentiation between commercial / residential -> or that there are no commercial buildings listed? Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 19:04
  • 1
    If you want to do tracings of buildings I recommend josm.openstreetmap.de . OSM and Yahoo have an agreement where tracings from yahoo aerial footage can be used in OSM (JOSM makes it easy to view the aerials, trace and tag them and submit them).
    – djq
    Commented Nov 16, 2010 at 5:05

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