Development names: Influencers or epic fails?
Remember when life was simple? When the postman only had to deliver to a Street, Road, Close or Lane. You could determine a home's stature by how its address sounded. And the greatest example of this would be the good old Monopoly board. No-one wanted Old Kent Road for example, but Bond Street or Mayfair, well… there was no competition was there?
Today however, with the rapid growth of the UK population alone, the British home-buying public is presented with a choice of country-wide new-build developments. Gone are the tree-lined Westminster Roads, St. David's Roads and Acacia Groves - and even our beloved Avenues. These traditional staples of a past era are now replaced with over-embellished metaphors like Hanson Park, Woodbank Park, Winthrop Park, Knightsbridge Court and Mariners' Wharf or some such.
Of course, there are road names, street names and grove names aplenty within the developments, but it's the development name that conjures up the lifestyle choice that buyers aspire to. At a guess, Old Slaughterhouse Fields wouldn't fair too well either in the 'oh goodness, I so want to live there' stakes.
In fact, the language used in development names seems to genuinely effect saleability. Since the start of 2020, homes that have included autumn in their name or street address have sold for higher than other seasons, an average of £322,467 compared to just £236,731 for those including 'spring'. Despite this it is house names including ‘spring’ which have proven the most popular since the start of 2020, with over 1,600 sales. High prices or high take-up, the question for a developer is, which season to choose.
And this is where clever thinking comes in from marketers and developers alike. It's all too easy to name a development with a hifalutin word appended to the word 'park', 'links', 'wharf' or 'court', but whilst these names are likely to promote faster sales, they shouldn't blatantly mislead. 'Hawthorn Meadows' sounds idyllic, but more likely to have had a meadow of Hawthorn trees bulldozed and replaced with brick and paving. Nightingale Park will never be home to a Nightingale - or even have a park… it's all too easy.
On the flip side, it's difficult creating a super-cool, funky, relevant name without eluding to the super-cool, funky piece of architecture or land that the development now replaces. I challenge you to find an old mill at Old Mill Rise.
So what can developers do?
Castris Development on Warwick Road, Kenilworth may be the catalyst to an answer… of sorts. Firstly, it's not really a big residential development but more a remodelling project of an existing property in Kenilworth town centre. The Developer settled on a name that's derived from history. It means 'in the camp' - a term that emerged during the siege at Kenilworth Castle in 1266. It can also mean castle rather than camp, but either way, it's at least an attempt to provide an intellectual response to naming a property. On a negative point, the castle is some distance away and the property looks as castle-like as a shoe box.
This all said, could it be that the good ole' names of the past still have a place in our future address snobbery?
Certainly, as with the street names of yesteryear, there will inevitably be repetition of names throughout the country - indeed the world. All the more important, then to devise names that possess uniqueness, relevance - and intellect. As well as the all-important 'sell' factor.
Granted, it's tricky to name a brownfield site development with something engaging other than perhaps pulling one of the defaults out of a hat, but delve a little into Wikipedia now and then and you could discover a hidden gem. And if it's going to be irrelevant, then perhaps we shouldn't hide the fact.
In short, it's time to rethink development names. We're living a time of 'me-too' reality TV, predictable politics and humdrum garden centre weekends. And where house design is created on return on investment, it too can seem a little lacklustre. Maybe the trick is to mix up those seasonal sellers, and upmarket terms with some local or historical trivia!
So to sum up, you'd better be on the money with the name if you want yours to be sold first.