16 things we learned from a list of every single road name in Great Britain

"The Street With No Name" in Levenshulme, which sadly isn't on the list because it doesn't actually have a name.

1) There are about 790,000 roads with names in England, Scotland and Wales.

The Ordnance Survey Open Names database lists 788,340 roads with a name, from Aachen Way in Halifax to Zurich Gardens in Bramhall.

2) The most common suffix in a road name is, unsurprisingly, ‘Road’

But only a fifth of roads (about 160,000) are called “Something Road”: 15 per cent are Closes, 10 per cent are Streets, 8 per cent are Lanes and 6 per cent are Avenues.

3) The most popular road name in the UK is probably what you would have guessed it would be

Drumroll please for....

“High Street”

...of which there are 2,453. Followed by Station Road (2,023), Church Lane (1,868), Church Street (1,521) and Mill Lane (1,318). This finally, conclusively proves that trains are better than Jesus AND mills.

4) The road with the longest name is in the New Forest

Congratulations, “Bolderwood Arboretum Ornamental Drive”: you did it!

(Not counting ‘names’ that include bracketed or other alternative names. Or ‘Woodpecker Crescent Woodpecker Crescent’ in Burgess Hill, which is presumably an error rather than some quirky bit of Sussex-based self-referentialism.)


5) The road with the shortest name is in Somerset

Rye, a road in the village of Puriton in Somerset, unexcitingly named after the green thing it runs past.

It does, debatably, have some competition: the MediaCity complex in Salford is so trendy that it has colours instead of road names, which means there’s a road listed under the name “Red” in the Ordnance Survey database.

There’s also an “Alt” in Widnes but that’s an abbreviation for “Alternate” which is a very normal thing to name a road. Good job, Widnes.

6) There are places with plenty of roads, but very few Roads

As noted in CityMetric only last week, the City of London may be the most famous example of a place with “no roads” (i.e. no roads named Somethingorother Road; although sadly this is no longer technically true, curse your eyes, Goswell Road).

One posited explanation is that incorporating the word Road into a road name is a modern enough concept that the layout of the City predates it.

7) The second most roadless place in the UK sits at the other end of urban history

In Milton Keynes, only 4 per cent of named roads are Roads. When the town was laid out in the 1960s it was decided the horizontal roads of its innovative grid system would be Ways, and the vertical roads Streets: but the majority of the roads are actually the smaller suburban Closes, Courts, Places & Drives that lie within the box of each grid.

No, this is very interesting actually.

Okay, fine.

8) Fanny Hands Lane

LOL! Image: Chris/Geograph/creative commons.

9) If you think Milton Keynes has an overly methodical road naming scheme, check out this estate near Southampton

Image: Google Maps.

Roads that run one way are A Avenue, B Avenue, C Avenue, D Avenue, E A… you get the idea. Roads that run the other are 1st Street, 2nd Street and so on. I'm coming up, so you better get this party started!

10) Scotland is the home of the Place

For example, “Place” is the most common suffix in East Kilbride, appearing in 17 per cent of road names. It’s also in more than 10 per cent of the road names of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

11) There’s a North/South divide between Streets and Roads

Obligatory map:

 

 

There are more Streets than Roads in much of the North: Oldham and Burnley are more than 45 per cent Street. Meanwhile on the south coast, Bournemouth only has one. And it’s not even a very good one.

 

Orchard Street in Bournemouth. Cowabunga! Image: Chris Downer/Geograph/creative commons.

12) Blackpool is 30% Avenues

An avenue is usually a road with lots of trees. This randomly selected avenue in Blackpool has hardly any:

Image: Google Maps.

What’s up, Blackpool? What did you do with all the trees?

13) Gateshead is 18% Gardens

Maybe that’s what the Gates are for!!!!! HA HA.

14) There’s no road called ‘The Road’

But there are 595 “The Street”s and 578 “The Avenue”s. What a creative island we are.

15) Where we’re going, we don’t need roads

Image: Google Maps.

 

16) There’s a road called “Burnt Dick Hill”

Image: Google Maps.

Ow.

Ed Jefferson works for the internet and tweets as @edjeff.

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The Tory manifesto promises to both increase AND decrease the rate of housebuilding

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick. Image: Getty.

In his 2014 Mansion House speech, the then-chancellor George Osborne expressed with uncharacteristic honesty the motives at the heart of how the Conservatives see British housing politics: “The British people want our homes to go up in value, but also remain affordable; and we want more homes built, just not next to us.”

Five years later these contradictions remain unreconciled and present in their manifesto, which contains two different and contradictory – but clearly extensively targeted and focus-grouped – sets of policies.

The Conservatives have two housing targets. The first is to make significant progress to hitting “our target of 300,000 houses built a year by the mid-2020s”. The second is their aim to build “at least a million new homes” during the next parliament, which implies a target of 200,000 homes a year. This is not only 100,000 lower than their initial target but also lower than the current rate of housebuilding: 213,660 new homes a year. They have therefore implied at separate points in the same manifesto that they intend to simultaneously increase and decrease the rate of housebuilding.  

There are similar conflicts in their approach to planning. They intend to make the “planning system simpler” while simultaneously aiming to introduce community-led design standards for development and planning obligations to provide infrastructure for the local community.

None of this is unsurprising, The Tories don’t seem to know if they want to build more houses or not – so of course they don’t know whether they wish to make it easier or harder to do so.  

Politicians like obfuscation on housing policy to placate NIMBY voters. Take for example prospective Conservative MP and ‘environmentalist’ Zac Goldsmith’s crusade to save treasured local car parks. The manifesto can equally be accused of pandering to NIMBY instincts, protecting their shire voters from all housing, including ones they might actually need or want, by promising to protect the greenbelt.  

Instead, Conservatives intend to foist development on Labour-leaning inner-city communities and prioritising brownfield development and “urban regeneration”. This requires massive, infeasible increases in proposed density on brownfield sites – and research by Shelter has shown there are simply not enough brownfield sites in cities like London. Consequently, it is not clear how such a policy can co-exist with giving these inner-city communities rights on local design. Perhaps they intend to square that circle through wholesale adoption of YIMBY proposals to let residents on each street opt to pick a design code and the right to turn their two-storey semi-detached suburban houses into a more walkable, prettier street of five-storey terraces or mansion blocks. If so, they have not spelt that out. 

Many complain of NIMBYism at a local level and its toxic effects on housing affordability. But NIMBYism at the national level – central government desire to restrict housebuilding to make house prices rise – is the unspoken elephant in the room. After all, 63 per cent of UK voters are homeowners and price rises caused by a housing shortage are hardly unpopular with them. 


There is anecdotal evidence that protecting or inflating the value of homeowners’ assets is central to Conservative strategy. When George Osborne was criticised for the inflation his help to buy policy caused within the housing market, he allegedly told the Cabinet: “Hopefully we will get a little housing boom, and everyone will be happy as property values go up”. More recently Luke Barratt of Inside Housing noted that most Conservatives he spoke to at the 2018 party conference were scared “they’d be punished by their traditional voters if the values of their homes were to fall”. He was told by a Conservative activist at the conference that, “If you build too many houses, you get a Labour government”.

But the senior figures in the Conservative Party are painfully aware that the continuing housing shortage presents major long-term problems for the Party. As the manifesto itself acknowledges: “For the UK to unleash its potential, young people need the security of knowing that homeownership is within their reach.” Perpetual increases in house prices are incompatible with this goal. The problem has greatly contributed to the Conservatives’ severe unpopularity with a younger generation priced out of decent accommodation. 

Equally, there is increasing evidence that ‘gains’ from rising house prices are disproportionately concentrated in the south of England.  The differences in housing costs between regions greatly reduce labour mobility, suppressing wage growth in the north and midlands, which in turn leads to greater regional inequality. The policy of coddling southern homeowners at the expense of the economic well-being of other regions is a major long-term stumbling block to Conservative desires to make inroads into the ‘red wall’ of Leave-voting labour seats outside the south.

Before dealing with the issue of where housing should go, you must decide whether you want to build enough housing to reduce the housing crisis. On this issue, the Conservative response is, “Perhaps”. In contrast, even though they may not know where to put the necessary housing, the Labour Party at least has a desire in the abstract to deal with the crisis, even if the will to fix it, in reality, remains to be seen. 

Ultimately the Conservative Party seems to want to pay lip service to the housing crisis without stopping the ever-upward march of prices, underpinned by a needless shortage. Osborne’s dilemma – that the will of much of his party’s voter base clashes with the need to provide adequate housing – remains at the heart of Conservative housing policy. The Conservatives continue to hesitate, which is of little comfort to those who suffer because of a needless and immoral housing shortage.

Sam Watling is the director of Brighton Yimby, a group which aims to solve Brighton’s housing crisis while maintaining the character of the Sussex countryside.