We're currently looking for a Land Use dataset for part of England (UK) and were wondering what datasets are out there, either free or commercial.

One's we've found so far:

Important: We're not looking to generate this data ourselves, We're only interested in nicely pre-packaged datasets.

5 Answers 5


Also now try the CORINE land cover map 2012 for the United Kingdom: https://catalogue.ceh.ac.uk/documents/32533dd6-7c1b-43e1-b892-e80d61a5ea1d


(Don't think there is a one source solution for this question)

Natural England has a huge source of Land Use across England.

Land Use Categories:

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (England)
Biosphere Reserves (England)
Limestone Pavement Orders (England)
Local Nature Reserves (England)
Marine Conservation Zones (England)
National Nature Reserves (England)
National Parks (England)
Ramsar (England)
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (England)
Special Areas of Conservation (England)
Special Protection Areas (England)

Free for Personal and non-commercial use http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/publications/data/default.aspx

At cost http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/commercial/geo-info-and-planning/electronic-extent-data-polygons - bulk orders over 20,000 polygons


Depending on what distinction you make between land cover and land use, the Land Cover Map 2007 may be of interest to you. Released in 2011 it is, as far as I'm aware, the most up to date land cover dataset for the UK as a whole. There are several different versions: a 1km raster, a 25m raster and a vector dataset. The 1km raster uses a simplified ten-fold classification scheme and is free for commercial use; the other two use 23 land cover classes and are only free for academic purposes.

There are a number of older datasets in the same vein which may be useful if you're interested in changing land cover over time: LCM2000 and LCMGB1990.

One downside of these datasets is their lack of detail in agricultural areas, which are simply classified as either "arable" or "improved grassland". If you need to distinguish between different agricultural land uses then, depending on your organisation, you may be able to access the Integrated Administrative and Control System (IACS) dataset. This is maintained by central government and, unfortunately, it's usually not available unless you're undertaking government research. On the off-chance that this applies to you, it's definitely worth investigating.

  • Thanks. After looking at the distinction between the two, in this case I'm fairly sure its more Land Use that I'm interested in that Land Cover. Nov 20, 2012 at 11:38
  • As per my note below, it is not possible to directly compare land cover change using LCM2000 and LCMGB1990, as per metadata. It reads: "LCM2000 raster dataset is not directly comparable with the LCM1990 dataset,as it has been constructed by different methods. It is NOT suitable for estimating change over the 10-year period."
    – veedub
    May 3, 2016 at 13:04

It might not be what you're after but the OS Strategi dataset contains land use data.


Note: Land COVER refers to the type of vegetation (or otherwise) covering the landscape (i.e. grassland, woodland, water or built environment). Land USE refers to how the land is used by humans (i.e. commercial, agriculture, industrial, recreational etc.)

Land use and cover are quite different from the site designations listed in the first post; these designations may be split into statutory (for protected habitats or species i.e. SSSI, AONB etc.) and non-statutory types (typically designated by Local Authorities i.e. Areas of High Landscape Value, Registered Parks and Gardens etc.) For more info see here and here.

With reference to your original question, there are a number of datasets available in the UK for both land COVER and land USE, namely:

  • Land Cover Map 2007 (source). Note: LCM2000 and LCM1999 are also available but it is not possible to compare land cover change between the two timepoints due to different sampling methods that were used to capture the data (see here, p.4);
  • Open Street Map (source). Note: this is an open dataset;
  • OS MasterMap (source). Note: Requires some expertise to derive classes.

Principally, your first port of call should be LCM2007 (if you're wanting land COVER data). For Land Use data OS MasterMap or Open Street Map will suffice (the former being costly).

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