The deposit with the clerk of the peace of plans of canals and navigations was required by standing orders of the House of Commons, 1792, which were subsequently extended to cover other schemes of a public utility nature involving a Parliamentary Bill. Standing orders of both Houses in 1836 required that railway plans should be on a scale of not less than four inches to the mile.
A standing order of the Commons in 1837 extended this provision to all other plans, and also required the deposit of sealed duplicates. Many of these plans are for schemes never carried out.
In canal, road and railway plans, fields and buildings within about a quarter of a mile on each side of the proposed course are recorded in both plans and books of reference. Some plans give names of farms and other properties. The reference books give for each property the following details: number on plan, description, owner and occupier.