Policy Street naming and numbering policy

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5. Naming Streets and Numbering Houses

Section 64 of The Town Improvement Clauses Act 1847 requires Councils to ensure houses and buildings are “marked with numbers as they think fit”. We also have a responsibility to make sure that the street names are displayed. Should any person destroy, deface or put up another number or name other than the official one, then that person shall be liable to a fine under the provisions of Criminal Justice Act 1982 for every such offence.

While we are the authority for naming streets, in practice we follow the recommendation of the Town or Parish Council for the Districts and the Ward Councillors for Exeter, so long as a name meets the naming criteria.

Property developers are required to suggest names for new streets within Exeter, but it is optional within the Districts. Any naming suggestions will be received by us and checked against our criteria, then forwarded for their consideration to the Town or Parish Council for the Districts or the Ward Councillors in Exeter.

The Town or Parish Council for the Districts or the Ward Councillors for Exeter, will consider the name and may approve, otherwise they may suggest their own. We will follow the suggestion of the Town or Parish Council for the Districts or the Ward Councillors for Exeter, so long as it meets the naming criteria. In cases where their suggestion does not meet the criteria a decision will be made by a Corporate Director in conjunction with the Chairman or Vice Chairman of the relevant council Development Control Committee.

The old Parish Tithe Maps and Tithe Apportionment Transcription has proved useful in previous naming schemes, so we would encourage all councillors to use tithe information data for street names. If there any problems choosing a name or the process becomes protracted for any reason, we will consider a street name using the tithe information.

All costs for the erection of signs for new streets will be borne by the property developer. There is a specification for the signs and their locations and we must be contacted for advice.

Maintenance of street signs becomes the council’s responsibility once a street has been adopted.

It is not lawful to erect a street nameplate until the street name has been confirmed in writing by the Strata: Note: Contravention attracts a fine under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1982 (Section 37(2) Standard Scale Level 1 offences). A daily penalty rate also applies in this case.

Criteria for naming streets

The Street Name and Numbering team will use these guidelines when agreeing a new number or address. Developers, Ward Councillors and Town and Parish Councils should follow these guidelines for any suggested street names:

New street names must avoid duplicating any similar name already in use in a town/village or in the same postcode area.  A variation in the terminal word, for example, "street", "road", "avenue", will not be accepted as sufficient reason to duplicate a name. A common request is to repeat existing names in a new street or building title (for example a request for a street called Church Close or a block of flats called Church Court off an existing street called Church Way). This is not allowed as it can have a detrimental effect in an emergency situation. This is in line with Government guidance found in circular 3/93.

  • This also applies to residential and business addresses on a site, for example Church Close and Church Units
  • Street names should not be difficult to pronounce, awkward to spell (for example Chasse, Medows etc) or open to interpretation by shortening or graffiti in any way.
  • Street names should, where possible, reflect the history or geography of the site or area.
  • Names which can be considered or construed as obscene, racist or which would contravene any aspect of the Council’s Equal Opportunities Policy will be rejected.
  • No business names will be considered for street naming purposes – for example Debenhams Road.
  • New names will not be assigned where developments can satisfactorily be included in the existing numbering scheme of the street providing access
  • We will not adopt any unofficial ‘marketing’ titles used by developers in the sale of new properties.
  • All street names and addresses when stored in databases must meet the standards set out in BS7666. This restricts the use of punctuation marks and special characters e.g. apostrophes, hyphens, ampersands. The reason for this is to avoid potential problems when searching the databases as these characters have specific meanings in computer systems, it also means that letters sent to the public will not include apostrophes.

All new street names should ideally end with one of the following suffixes:

  • Street (for any thoroughfare)
  • Road (for any thoroughfare)
  • Way (for major roads - also appropriate for pedestrian routes)
  • Avenue (for residential roads)
  • Drive (for residential roads)
  • Grove (for residential roads)
  • Lane (for residential roads)
  • Gardens (for residential roads) - subject to there being no confusion with any local open space
  • Place (for residential roads)
  • Crescent (for a crescent shaped road)
  • Court/Close (for a cul-de-sac only)
  • Square (for a square only)
  • Hill (for a hillside road only)
  • Circus (for a large roundabout)
  • Vale (for residential roads)
  • Rise (for residential roads)
  • Row (for residential roads)
  • Wharf (for residential roads)
  • Mews (for residential roads)
  • Mead (for residential roads)
  • Meadow (for residential roads)


Single or dual names without suffixes are acceptable in appropriate places (for example, Broadway for major roads only) such names will have to get approval  by the Parish/Town Council for Districts and Ward Councillors for Exeter, and be appropriate for the locality.

All new pedestrian ways should end with one of the following suffixes:

  • Walk
  • Path
  • Way

For private houses it is sufficient that the name should not repeat the name of the road or that of any other house or building in the same locality, see Procedure for Address Changes below.

The use of North, East, South or West (as in Alfred Road North and Alfred Road South, or East or West) is only acceptable where the road is continuous and passes over a major junction. It is not acceptable when the road is in two separate parts with no vehicular access between the two.

We will avoid having two phonetically similar names within a postal area and, if possible, within a locality or town/village. For example, Alfred Road and Alfred Close or Churchill Road and Birch Hill Road.

The use of a name which relates to someone either living or alive during living memory should be avoided in case of negative claims coming to light at a later date. If this did occur, any remaining expenses or complaints would be handled by the relevant town or parish council (including new street nameplates or “inconvenience” expenses claimed by the local residents), but these names can be put forward by the Town or Parish Council as long as written permission has been obtained from the person or family of the person (this is to help avoid upsetting living relatives). This written permission must be provided when the name is submitted.

If the name relates to a public figure, the above still applies, and we recommend that the intention to use the name is announced in the local press to assist with consultation. If there are objections to a proposed name, another name should be submitted. If no other suggestions are made a decision will be made by Street Name and Numbering in line with our current policy.

The use of names that pertain to the Royal Household should be avoided, as to use such a name may require Royal Assent from the Privy Council.

The use of tree names should be avoided mainly due to the duplication of many existing streets already named. We will only do this if those requesting them show that such confusion is not likely to take place and that the tree name has local relevance. This includes all names based on “Orchard”.

The use of numbers as the first part of a street name should be avoided. For example, 20 Four Elms Hill could be misconstrued in an emergency situation as 24 Elms Hill.

Street names beginning with “The” should be avoided due to press articles suggesting this can impact negatively on emergency service response times.

Locally known (or historically known) street names will not have street nameplates unless they form part of the official postal addresses of the properties along those streets

If signs have been placed in the past or have been requested, but the name does NOT form part of the official postal address, the relevant Ward Councillors for Exeter or the Town or Parish Council for the Districts should canvas the affected residents.

  1. If they are in agreement to an address change to include the name (which may result in a change of postal code) the sign can remain or signs can be purchased by the Town or Parish council.
  2. bIf the residents are NOT in agreement to the address change then any existing sign will be removed as this will cause confusion for delivery and emergency services (as the name is not classed as an official road name).