Skip to Content

Address data

Local authorities deliver over 700 different services. It is estimated that 85% of authority services have a location element.  Having an unambiguous location reference point shared throughout the local authority saves time and money. 

Location information links services to people through place. This is key to delivering joined-up services.  Whether it relates to providing services to vulnerable people; managing school admissions; planning street works; or mobilising a fire crew to a block of flats.  There is no room for error – completeness, accuracy and timeliness of information is of the essence. 

Local planning authorities (districts; unitaries; metropolitan districts; London boroughs) have a statutory duty to name and number streets and properties.  Following an initiative led by the Local Government Association, over the past 14 years, local authorities have worked collaboratively to develop single address and street data sources demonstrating one of the most successful shared services across England and Wales.

Local authorities gain benefit through efficiencies; savings; and a platform for transformation through this joint work.  The central collation of data by us adds value through standardisation and quality assurance.  The wider public sector benefits as a result and this opens the door for service transformation and efficiency between councils and other bodies they work with.

Addresses play a vital role in communities, allowing us to locate one another and enable a whole range of services to be delivered from the cradle to the grave. 

Most transactions, provided by thousands of different organisations, include an address – from registering to vote, collection of waste, delivery of social care, payment of taxes, connection of utility services, quotation for insurance, delivery of packages, allocation of school places and most crucially responding to emergency situations where time really can be a matter of life or death.

Many of these transactions are underpinned by the address information produced by local authorities and contained within the National Address Gazetteer infrastucture

The National Address Gazetteer infrastructure is the single source from which the AddressBase products are developed and made available free at the point of use by Ordnance Survey for the entire public sector including organisations working on behalf of the public sector, under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) and One Scotland Mapping Agreement (OSMA).

Being able to access a definitive address list from one central place allows organisations to readily exchange information with each other, streamline services, reduce duplication and facilitate partnership working.

Guidance on street naming and numbering for local authorities

Recognising local authorities as the source of new address and street information and Ordnance Survey's public task to provide an authoritative and fully maintained database of grid referenced addresses, the Local Government Association and Ordnance Survey established GeoPlace as a joint venture to create definitive national databases of addresses and streets. GeoPlace achieves this by collecting address and street information from local authorities and using this to create national databases.

Local authorities have a range of statutory responsibilities (which vary according to the type of authority) connected to the creation, maintenance and availability of address and street information.

These powers and guidance are:

  • Towns Improvement Clauses Act 1847 (sections 64 and 65) (for numbering of properties and Street naming)
  • Section 21 of the Public Health Act Amendment Act 1907 (for alteration of names of Streets)
  • Public Health Act 1925 (sections 17 to 19) (for notification of Street Names and name plates).
  • Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013
  • Royal Mail's right under licence to maintain the Postcode Address File (PAF) Section 116 of the Postal Services Act 2000
  • A local Act, for example the Humberside Act 1982 or the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939 (Part 2)
  • PAF® Code of Practice, Changing Postal Addresses and Postcodes, May 2010
  • Department of Transport Circular Roads 3/93 dated 15th December 1973
  • For authorities in London: The London Buildings Act (Amendment) Act 1939 – part ii

Additionally, Street Naming and Numbering (SNN) Officers should be conversant with the principles of BS 7666-1:2006 and BS 7666-2:2006 to ensure all new Street Names and Records comply with the standard.

Devised jointly with representatives from local authorities, GeoPlace provides technical guidance to local authorities on the collection of street and address information ‘GeoPlace Data Entry Conventions and Best Practice for Addresses (DEC-Addresses Version 3.4), September 2016.'

The main purpose of this reference manual is to provide:

  • The SNN Officer with a comprehensive consistent maintenance and update resource
  • Definitions, conventions and guidance for those wishing to improve how they maintain address data more efficiently and in a consistent manner across government
  • Consistent definitions and conventions for those who use address data and those who, equally importantly, wish to understand why they should use good quality address data.

Local authority officers have been using  versions of this guidance for over ten years and review it regularly to ensure that it remains fit for purpose. The guidance helps councils avoid the significant cost and practical difficulties associated with changing street names, should that be necessary in future years.

The guidance states that councils should establish their own street naming and numbering policy for their authority taking into particular consideration the following aspects:

  • The exclusion or inclusion of certain numbers for cultural or religious reasons
  • The use of building names without numbers
  • New building or Street names should not begin with "The"
  • The use of Street Names which include numbers which can cause confusion, for example "20 Seven Foot Lane" sounds the same as "27 Foot Lane"
  • The use of the names of deceased people in the adoption of any Street Names. The reason for choosing a person's name should be established in the Authority's policy
  • The use of the name of a living person. (This is not recommended)
  • The adoption of historic connotations by developers – guidance on this should be provided by the SNN Authority to all developers through close liaison with local historic societies. This information should be provided electronically via the SNN Authority's website
  • The use of national or local historic figures or events
  • The use of a name with Royal connotations. The consent of the Lord Chamberlain's office must be obtained if a name with any reference to the Royal family or the use of the word ‘Royal' is suggested. For further information, see - heRoyalArms.aspx (accessed January 2016) Email - [email protected] (accessed January 2016)
  • The use of names and their combination with numbers that could be considered rude, obscene, and racist or which would contravene any aspect of the council's equal opportunities policies
  • The use of names and their combination with numbers that could be easily vandalised or changed into any of the above, for example, "Canal Turn"
  • The use of names that can cause spelling or pronunciation problems
  • The use of names that can be construed to be used for advertising or commercial gain
  • The use of names which would lead to variations in the use of punctuation as these can cause confusion or result in early demands for a change of address from occupiers.

Please note that the  'Data Entry Conventions and Best Practice for Addresses' guidance on street naming and numbering are recommendations and naming streets is a matter for individual councils.


Decommission of OS Address Infrastructure

Since the formation of GeoPlace in 2010, we have been continually working to evolve and improve. We are proud of the work we do and the way that we do it and last week we gained further accreditation of this.   
Up until recently, Ordnance Survey actively captured and maintained its own address data content store – used to create products such as ADDRESS-POINT and Code-Point.  Last week, Ordnance Survey confirmed to us that they have ceased the wholesale capture and maintenance processes they previously carried out, with the primary content now fulfilled from NAG Hub. 
Ordnance Survey continue to work collaboratively with GeoPlace and Local Authorities to ensure the ongoing accuracy of the NAG Hub, however this is now on a more targeted basis. This is a significant step for all of us, local authorities included.