The meed for careful land use planning ie such a small and highly urbanized country as the UK is indisputable and for 40 years there has been a comprehensive planning system based mainly upon land use considerations. Despite this, the state of our knowledge of urban land use is still far from sat­ isfactory. Even the most basic facts are contentious. Numerous independent commentators have drawn attention to the shortage and patchiness of urban land use data, and the way in which this handicaps effective land planning and allocation, yet paradoxically the acquisition of land use statistics does not appear to be a top priority for local authorities. Coppock’s judgement that ‘the collection of adequate data on urban laud use and land use changes is always likely to present difficulties’ (Coppock 1978: 55) unfortunately remains true.