The Government has launched a technical consultation setting out plans to ensure councils in England secure approval for street name changes from local residents in the street in question before they go ahead with them.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said: “Currently, many councils can change the name of a given street without consulting residents. Consent from local residents has been a legal requirement in the past, but has been ‘disapplied’ in many areas. The government believes the law needs updating so it is consistent across England.”
The Department said the current system relied upon three Acts which dated from the early 20th century and created “nationally inconsistent and unclear” procedures for changing street names.
Under the existing legislation, many local authorities have the power to change the name of a given street without engaging residents or businesses on that street.
The DLUHC said the Government was considering the case for modernising these Acts by replacing them with a single clear requirement for a residents’ vote on any changes to street names based on the principles set out in 1907 legislation.
It argued that changing a street name can have significant practical costs for residents and businesses which then have to change their address with banks, shops, utilities and on official documents.
Housing Minister Stuart Andrew said: “Up and down the country, street names often form a key part of an area’s history, cherished by the local community for the memories they hold and the places they represent.
“These proposals will strengthen local democracy by ensuring that councils in England get agreement from local residents in advance of any street name changes.”
The consultation period will run until 22 May.