Town plans are large scale maps of built-up areas, providing detailed information about the urban landscape and buildings.
The first major published work showing detailed town plans was Braun & Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum (1572-1617), this features a number of towns and cities in England, Scotland and Ireland, but none from Wales. Some of the earliest town plans of Wales appear as insets on John Speed's County Maps. These plans are fairly small and show limited detail. Very few other town plans for Welsh towns were published in the next 200 years, though it is possible to find some examples in manuscript maps, such as the plan of Welshpool shown on Humfrey Bleaze's map of the Powis Castle Estate (1629).
By the early nineteenth century there began to be more of an interest in how towns were organised and run and this led to an increase in maps showing detailed plans of towns and cities. Some of the earliest examples for Wales were the maps produced by John Wood in the 1830s. The fact that some of these maps have been annotated to show new developments provides evidence of the importance of such plans. As the nineteenth century progressed the development of local government went hand-in-hand with the detailed mapping of towns by the Ordnance Survey. The 1:500 scale plans they produced are amongst the largest scale maps every made by the Ordnance Survey and are unrivalled in their attention to even the smallest details such as individual trees and street furniture.