I am working with building polygon data of a city in England. The data are from EDINA Digimap's Topography Mastermap. I extracted the 'Building' attribute from 'DescriptiveGroup' fields to get buildings polygon. However, I need to filter the residential building only.

Doses anyone know any resource to get the residential filter for UK datasets?

  • My understanding is that this may be open data and so I think this question is far better researched/asked at the Open Data Stack Exchange.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 7:07
  • @PolyGeo no it's commercial
    – Stevetech
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 16:08
  • Please reopen the original question so it can get an answer
    – Stevetech
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 16:12
  • If I had contact details for khaliff I would talk them through it. Answering questions like that is my day job
    – Stevetech
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 18:05
  • 1
    The EDINA data set is ONLY AVAILABLE to government/public sector workers and to those in higher (EG: University) education in the UK, it's follows on closely from the remains of what used to be the JANET network back in the 80/90's and is therefore NOT OPEN DATA. Some portions of it may be but EDINA as a platform is not, therefore this should NOT be moved here, and needs to be moved back to the GIS site.
    – shawty
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 18:41

3 Answers 3


Before I start THIS IS NOT OPEN DATA. You will need access to Ordnance Survey products, either through your employer or academic institution. However all the techniques have wider applications which apply to open datasets.

Using the correct techniques you can extract a lot of information from Ordnance Survey Mastemap Topo when it is combined with other data.

E.g. Show me all residential buildings over 18m tall (draw your own conclusions)

This method uses a database but it could be done with shape files and text files but a database have other advantages for further analysis.

To answer your question you will need the following:

  1. Ordnance Survey MasterMap Topo for your selected area
  2. Ordnance Survey AddressBase Plus for your area
  3. The Addressbase Plus header file.


  1. Load the Mastermap Topo data into a geodatabase. (You can use the Esri FGDB or another database such as Postgresql).
  2. Load this data as a layer in ArcMap and perform a definition query Theme = ‘Buildings’. (This is not totally essential but it will make future steps a bit quicker)
  3. Using whichever technique you prefer load the Addressbase Plus data into a table in your database. (My preference is either Pentaho or Talend; both have free versions)
  4. Perform a spatial join between Mastermap and Addressbase using Toid as the common field. At this point you have the choice of only keeping only the matched toads or all of them.

At this point you have a number of options. You could then perform a select query on class to find residential properties or one of the many address classifications included in Addressbase. You can also symbolise on code which may be much more useful as if you colour each class differently or use the field calculator to aggregate the classification into much broader classes (I usually do this at the load stage using Pentaho)

If you also download the building height data and join it using Toid you can then identify all the high-rise buildings in your area. Combined with Addressbase this lets you produce an address list of all these properties.

A minor caveat of this is that the height data was published in December 2014 and hasn’t been updated.

If you need more detailed classifications can I sugest taking a look at ukmap from Verisk http://www.geoinformationgroup.co.uk/ukmap which has much more detailed classifications than provided by Ordnance Survey, although for a much more limited coverage

  • I've got a limitation in access to AddressBase so tried some workaround: (1). I use Code-point and Code-point with polygon layer and join them, deleted any records with zero value in 'domestic delivery points' (RP). I used this as the first filter to the building layer. Any building that intersect with this filter was kept (2). I downloaded the sites layer which contains polygons of area surrounding public service building e.g. schools and I used this as my filter: any remaining building that intersect with this filter is deleted. What do you think?
    – khaliff
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 20:04
  • That will certainly remove some of the obvious commercial properties. After that you could start by using code point with polygons to find all postcode with either no residential or no commercial. That will reduce your work load in further classification of mixed postcodes. From there you could use something like google street view to "drive" each remaining postcode looking for the commercial, properties. As you will have a count keep looking till you find them all. Hard work I know but if you haven't got addressable it may be the only way to be accurate
    – Stevetech
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 20:32

Mastermap topography doesn't tell you much about building use unless it's something significant. On page 29 of the user guide it says

With a few exceptions, for example, by describing government offices or hypermarkets, no distinction is currently made between residential, private, public, commercial or industrial buildings.

(emphasis mine).

You'll need to join it to Addressbase which has classification codes for each building, (docs). In particular you'll want to have a look at the classification codes. Luckily Addressbase plus and premium allow you to reference to the TOIDs in Mastermap topo.

OS data sets are fairly complex, so it's worth taking the time to read the product guides.

  • This is not open data.
    – Stevetech
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 16:40
  • 1
    Very true, I just tried to answer @khaliff's question. They would have access through edina. I've no problem if the answer is taken down, or can be shifted back to gis stack exchange.
    – RoperMaps
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 17:35
  • Agreed. This NEEDS to be moved back to GIS, it's NOT open data. It doesn't even fall under the UK gov's open data licence scheme.
    – shawty
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 18:43
  • This is a good pointer to what is required. I have added a full technique as an answer.
    – Stevetech
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 18:11

You might be interested in http://openpopgrid.geodata.soton.ac.uk/, they used postcodes as a way of differentiating between residential/non-residential buildings, with some limitations, have a look at the manual which you can download.

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