January 17, 2012 -- Three examples of innovation and excellence in street naming by English councils have been recognised at the 'National Gazetteers Exemplar Awards'. Colchester Borough Council was the overall Winner of the 2011 Street Naming Exemplar Award with Chorley Borough Council being Highly Commended and Birmingham City Council recognised as having Best Practice. The awards were presented at the recent 'Everything Happens Somewhere' conference.
The naming of fourteen new streets on a development in Colchester was judged to be some of the best in the Country. The site was formerly home to Woods of Colchester a major producer of industrial fans and motors. At its peak Woods of Colchester was one of the largest employers in the borough and the factory accounted for sixty percent of all industrial fan exports From Great Britain. In 1972 this earned the company the prestigious title of 'Export Company of the Year'. In recognition of the history and importance of the site, it was decided that the street names should retain reference to the sites former use. All the street names used in the site have a connection with industrial fans or a feature of the former factory, such as; Little Woods Mews, Aerofoil Grove, Engineers Square, Fan Avenue, Axial Drive, Turbine Road, Apprentice Drive – there was an apprentice school building where the road now runs, Blade Road, Motor Walk, Vortex Road, Spindle Street, Breeze Lane and Woods Court.
Chorley Borough Council received Highly Commended for their sensitive naming of a large development site on the outskirts of the village of Ecclestone. Chorley's initial suggestion was to use the holiday firm 'Pontins' as the theme for the new streets being named on the development. It felt that, with Pontins being such a nationally known company, the street names would be a fitting tribute to the site, which has been used as its predominant headquarters. But following consultation with Ecclestone Parish Council it received negative feedback on the grounds that local residents were unhappy with how Pontins reportedly treated the site in the latter years of their occupancy. Following the consultation process, Chorley was more than happy to reconsider their proposal. They invited suggestions from the parish council, and the borough council agreed on street names reflecting the site's former use as an orchard including Braeburn Crescent, Bramley Drive, Cortland Avenue and Laxton Court.
Birmingham City Council was recognised for Best Practice in Street Naming following a public consultation exercise. With responsibility for more than 2,500 miles of public highways within an area of 26,700 hectares, Birmingham City Council is the largest high-density authority in the country. However, it was commonly felt that the standard of suggestions for new road names received from developers tended to lack imagination or any real local connection. To address this issue and also to engage the public, the council launched an exercise designed to collate a list of approved new road names, with local geographical, historical or cultural relevance and in accordance with street naming and numbering policy. This now forms the authority's approved list of street names for developments within the area and is publically available.
The 2011 Exemplar Awards were presented by GeoPlace and aim to share, reward and celebrate best practice for projects which bring service improvements and efficiencies through the effective management of address and street information.