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Street Naming and Numbering

Bedford Borough Council is responsible for street naming and numbering for the Borough. The service, provided by the Street Works Team, is essential to provide an efficient means of locating and referencing properties for organisations, postal and emergency services, and the general public.


Who Should Apply

  • Individuals or developers building new houses, apartments, commercial or industrial premises.
  • Individuals or developers undertaking conversions of residential, commercial or industrial premises which will result in the creation of new properties or premises.
  • Any person wishing to change their existing address.


How to Apply

Anyone wishing to make an application should click here to download our 2018 Street Naming and Numbering Application Form in the first instance, then complete the form and return it to Bedford Borough Council's Street Works Team, along with location/site layout plans and a cheque (made payable to Bedford Borough Council).


Street Naming and Numbering Guidance

The purpose of managing street and building names and numbers is to ensure that the address of each property in the borough is unique, unambiguous and logical. This will facilitate the correct delivery of mail and enabling visitors, especially public service personnel, to quickly locate the address they seek and is particularly important for emergency health and fire services where any delay caused by confusion over the address could put lives at risk.


Approval and Registration of New and Revised Addresses - If You Are an Owner or Developer

Proposals to name or rename a new or existing building or access-way should be submitted to the Council for approval at least ten weeks before the premises are due to be occupied. This is to allow for any necessary consultation with the Post Office and Emergency Services.

Approval of proposals is not automatic and the Council may require alternative names or changes to proposed numbering to ensure compliance with policy guidelines. If you wish to use your proposals to market the development, please ensure that purchasers are aware of the approved address before completion. The marketing name or numbers should not be included in any permanent signage or official documentation.

If the proposal complies with this Guidance and there are no objections from any organisations consulted, the new address will be formally assigned and all relevant bodies notified.


Approval and Registration of New and Revised Addresses - If You Are a Tenant or Purchaser

Please check with your landlord or vendor that the address you have been given is approved and registered with the Council’s, otherwise orders for goods or services may not be accepted if the address and postcode are not recognised.


Approval and Registration of New and Revised Addresses - The Naming of Streets and Buildings

Renaming existing streets that have occupied buildings is generally avoided unless the benefits clearly outweigh the disadvantages. In some instances it is necessary to rename a street or part of a street due to development changes that may give rise to problems for existing or new occupiers. For instance, where a road has been split into two or more sections by traffic management schemes or development and travelling the length of the road is no longer possible, one section could be renamed to avoid confusion.

The Council does not maintain an "approved" list of possible names. Names with a link to the history of the locality, commemorating a former distinguished resident or someone who was active in the community, are preferred. Names of people still living should be avoided.


Naming Criteria

All new names for streets or buildings must comply with the following criteria:-

The name should not duplicate, or be similar to, an existing name or part of a name in the same Postal District or locality. A variation in the terminal word ("Road", "Close", "House" etc.) is not considered sufficient difference if the name includes a word already in use locally. Care should also be taken to avoid phonetically similar names in the same area (such as "Churchill Road" and "Birch Hill Road").

The name should not be difficult to pronounce or awkward to spell for the majority of the population, and should be easy to understand over the telephone, particularly in an emergency situation. Names of three syllables or less are generally preferred.

The name should not include words having aesthetically unsuitable or offensive connotations for the general public or a particular community, or be capable of deliberate misinterpretation or double meaning.

The addition of "north", "south", "east" or "west" to a name can only be approved in circumstances where a long continuous road passes over a major junction. It is not acceptable when the road is in two separate parts with no vehicle access between the two. In these circumstances there should be two distinct names.

Secondary names for a row of buildings within an existing named road, where appropriate street numbers are available, will not be approved.


Postcode Enquiries

New addresses, including those for existing buildings converted into flats or brought back into use after being unoccupied for a long period, must be registered with the Council, otherwise they will not be recognised by Royal Mail and will not be given postcodes.

Royal Mail sell their postcode database (PAF) widely, and various companies use this as an initial security check, including Mail Order companies, Cable/Satellite TV companies, British Telecom and the like. If you are not on this database, these companies may not supply you.

A few developers/builders/owners neglect to get addresses registered with the Council and this can mean that tenants or purchasers move into their new flats without a proper address, leading to anger or frustration when they are told that their address "does not exist".

If a new address has been registered/agreed with the Council, it will be submitted as soon as possible to the Postcode Centre. It will then take one to two months before the information is available on the postcode database and circulated to users.

Postcodes for agreed addresses can be obtained using the Postcode Finder on the Royal Mail website, which is updated frequently. If addresses have not been agreed, purchasers/tenants should check with their vendor or landlord and make sure that details have been sent to the Council for registration.


Reporting a Damaged Street Nameplate

Please report the problem to the Council's Highways Helpdesk. To contact the Highways Helpdesk, please telephone 01234 718003 or click here to visit the 'Highways Reporting' webpage. Please include the following information:-

  • The location/name of the street nameplate.
  • The Parish in which the street is located.
  • Your name and contact details.
  • The nature of the damage to the street nameplate.


Once reported, an officer will inspect the site to verify the problem. Following a decision to replace the street nameplate, the process may take up to three weeks to complete. Unfortunately, the service only has a limited budget, and the replacement of street nameplates may need to be prioritised in terms of greatest need.

Please remember that if the problem is not reported to us, we will not know about it and the street nameplate will not be replaced.

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