Street naming and numbering policy

Appendix F - Department of transport


15 December 1993


1. This Circular supersedes Circular Roads 35/77 (which now lapses) but does not place any new burdens on local authorities. It updates the advice given in that Circular on design and installation of street name plates and reminds authorities of the need to maintain regular contact with the Royal Mail on new or revised naming and numbering proposals.

2. Councils are asked to ensure that consultation takes place with the appropriate Royal Mail Postcode Centre at an early stage when considering new street naming and building numbering schemes. This is to allow the Postal Services adequate time to comment before agreement is given to a scheme and enables the Council to make changes to proposals in light of any representations received.

3. It is important to both the Royal Mail and the Emergency Services to avoid giving streets similar names within the same locality. The close juxtaposition of similar names such as Park Road, Park Avenue and Park Gate Drive in the same area has proved to be a particular source of difficulty. A great variety of “999” calls are received each day and some callers can be vague in the details they give. Where names are duplicated it can be extremely difficult to pinpoint an exact location in order to enable an ambulance to attend in the time allowed.

4. All authorities are reminded of the continuing need to maintain a good standard of street name plates and property numbering schemes and to improve existing standards where necessary. Both are essential for the efficient functioning of the Postal and Emergency Services as well as for the convenience and safety of the general public. It should be remembered that street names need to be legible by night as well as by day. Adherence to the standards set out in the attached Appendices can help to achieve the maximum advantage from expenditure undertaken.

5. The illustration of particular designs in Appendix E is not intended to preclude the use of others which might be more suitable for a particular locality, but the authorities are strongly recommended to adopt approximately the same ratio of legend to background and to avoid unduly thin lettering in order to ensure legibility. Good colour contrast is also important and combinations which are likely to be a particular problem for those who are colour blind should be avoided. It is not suggested that existing plates of character and distinction should not be replaced. The aim should be to promote a good standard of design. This can be achieved by following the criteria set out in Appendix E.

6. Authorities are requested to keep the street name plates and building numbering schemes in their area under review and to ensure they are of a good standard. Street name plates at junctions with main traffic routes should be given the first priority.

7. The relevant powers for local authorities are contained in Sections 64 and 65 of the Towns Improvement Clauses Act 1847, Sections 17-19 of the Public Health Act 1925, and for London Boroughs Part II of the London Building Act (Amendments) Act 1939, as superseded by Section 43 of the London Government Act 1963 and paragraph 14 to Schedule 8 for the Local Government Act 1985.

8. Could you please bring this Circular to the attention of the Chief Surveyor or Engineer and the Chief Financial Officer to your authority.