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Retaining social history in Chelmsford

Exemplar Award Winner- Street Naming and Numbering Award Runner-up 2013: Chelmsford City Council

The site of St John’s Hospital is very important in the social history of Essex. This case study explores the activities that took place to properly name the redevelopment of the site by Chelmsford City Council.

The naming process

The naming and numbering of streets and buildings in Chelmsford is controlled by Chelmsford City Council, following the Public Health Act 1925.

The redevelopment of the site presented an opportunity for Chelmsford City Council to mark the hospital’s regional significance with names which will be remembered by many people and will serve as a reminder for future generations

The developer recognised the importance and value of involving local residents, stakeholders and organisation in the planning and development process at an early stage by holding public exhibitions. The exhibitions proved popular with the local residents, and the local ward Members who represent their constituents played an active part.

Preference was given to names that refer to the history and heritage of the local area. For large developments, a list of road names will be approved and allocated as the development progresses.

There were challenges associated with gaining full support from the developers for the council SNN processes, but eventually this was achieved. The press became a very useful source of profile-raising and stakeholder engagement by giving profile to the story.

The names

It was decided that the new road names would be based on the names of staff who had worked at the hospital. This decision was made by the SNN officer and Council, based on resident feedback.

The two names chosen for phase one of the project are

• ‘Grace Bartlett Gardens’: Grace was born in 1864 and was the daughter of Rev. Bartlett of Rainsford Lodge. He was Clerk to the Board of Guardians which was a home for single mothers and their babies

• ‘Mary Munnion Quarter’: Mary was praised for her work as a Poor Law Guardian for the Chelmsford Union Workhouse.

These names carry great significance for local residents and are fitting for the site.

Authority view

“St John’s Hospital was a place which so many residents, many of whom had been brought into the world within its walls, could relate to. We wanted to make sure that the new site continued to hold importance to local people and ensure that the history will live on for future generations. Having the opportunity to work with and consult local Councillors, residents in the area, and the developers redeveloping the site gave us the opportunity to strengthen the relationships we have with these important parties, and certainly taught us a thing or two about this historical site.”

—Michael Read, Information Manager

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