Street Names: How To Rule The Road

By Catherine Skelton

Ever wanted to have a street named after you? Just think of the streets you walk down every day, named after historical figures and local dignitaries. That street could be named after you.

In decades and centuries to come, could the descendants of your town be strolling down roads and into cul-de-sacs named after you?

The answer is yes. Yes they could. But it won’t be easy. We investigated the laws and loop holes that might help you get a street named after you.

It’s Not As Easy As You Think

Street naming regulations are enshrined in UK law. Your local borough or district council is responsible for assigning street names (and house numbers). The pertinent legislation can be found in the Towns Improvement Clauses Act 1847 and the Public Health Act of 1925.

Naming streets is a big responsibility for council planning departments. They have to consider the character of the area, the sensitivities of residents and the needs of local organizations. There are two circumstances streets are given new names: The street is new. The street is renamed.

When new streets are developed, the Builders submit an application to the local council with suggestions for street names. They’ll usually be asked to give a number of options. The council’s planning committee will then make a final decision.

Getting streets renamed is more difficult. In most areas, residents can complain about a street name and get it changed. Most councils will have a form to submit such a complaint. A council will sometimes step in to change a street name if it’s bothering residents or local services. Say, for example, there are two streets with similar sounding names in the same town. Local councils sometimes take it upon themselves to rename a street without consulting residents.

How Do They Do It Then?

Let’s take a look at how this can work in your favor. Here are some ways you can get a street named after you. Walk through any town and you’ll see streets named after the great. There are Shakespeare Streets and Coleridge Closes, Churchill Roads and Brunel Ways. But it’s not just ancient giants of literature, politics and science that get streets named after them. Local heroes can get the same treatment.

70’s hit-maker Gerry Rafferty had a street named after him; “Paisley”, Glasgow, after his death in 2009. Though, in his case it may have been smarter to name a road after his big hit “Baker Street”.

Sometimes, fame and achievement isn’t enough. Barnett council asked its residents for volunteers willing to have there street renamed after former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. To date, no one has come forward.

Councils will consider renaming a street if enough local residents petition them. So, here’s the route to take…

Aerial_view_of_Meadow_Close_and_part_of_Common_Lane,_Thundersley_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1638658

Aerial view of Meadow Close and Common Lane, Thundersley (Creative commons to Edward Clack) 

Simple steps to get a street named after you

Stage One: Get yourself so well liked down your road, that asking your neighbors to rename the street after you doesn’t seem like a ridiculous idea. We suggest a campaign of voluntary community service to butter people up. Mow lawns, paint fences, shop for groceries, cat sit, arrange a street party for everyone. Basically, become a local hero.

Stage Two: Ask your fellow residents to sign a petition to change the street name and present it to the local council. Again, this approach has the disadvantage of requiring a significant amount of effort.All it will take is one grumpy hold-out down your road to destroy your well-laid plans.

Finally: One simple solution, is to build the street yourself. Under current legislation, when you create a new street in an area, you’re responsible for coming up with suggested names and presenting them to the council. As long as they fit with local guidelines on street naming, this is by far your best chance of getting a street named after you.

So, there you have it. It is possible to get a street named after you, but it’s not easy. Perhaps you should take the path of resistance and accept you can’t rule the roads. If people name a street after you when you’ve gone, then that’ll be just a bonus.

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