What’s in a name? A lot, according to businesses and property developers. Unlike Shakespeare, they believe that the right name can make a rose smell a lot sweeter-and a neighbourhood a lot more attractive. This seems the rationale behind the move to rebrand the area stretching from Trafalgar Square to The Strand and Aldwych as the Northbank.
Last summer, Westminster County Council balloted local business and they overwhelmingly voted in favour of the new name, which was part of a business improvement district (BID) plan. The Northbank rebranding is hardly the first of its kind. “From my experience, the renaming of an area tends to be in an attempt to align a place with a more prestigious area.” says Ben Babington of Jackson-Stops & Staff. “There are many other examples in London, where either developers or councils have tried to revolutionise an area by renaming it and North Bank is the latest example. It is clear that the rename is an attempt to draw on the success of South Bank and emulate it.
“A classic example is the area which has always historically been known as Raynes Park, but over recent years residents have been trying to firmly establish it as West Wimbledon. From a residential point of view, the renaming of an area can have an extremely positive impact on house prices – particularly in examples like Raynes Park, which now has the crucial Wimbledon name in its address.”
The power of the right name doesn’t just affect neighbourhoods. A cleverly named house can sell more easily than a comparable one that only sports a street number. “House names are very important,” says Charlie Wells of property buying agents Prime Purchase. “If living in the country, a house with a number does not have the same weight as a house with a name so it is often the case that a numbered property becomes a “cottage”. At the other end of the scale, Manor Farms get turned into The Manor or Farms get turned into Estates.” In London, house names are even weightier “as there are so few of them around.”
Among the most popular names are those evocative of a rural idyll, such as Rose or Jasmine Cottage, or Orchard House. Conversely, though, a bad name can put off would-be buyers or lead new owners to ‘rebrand’ their properties after purchase. “There was a grass farm in Wiltshire which sold a few years back called Starveall Farm, obviously a historic reference back to the quality of the grass grown for the stock,” recalls Charlie. “The new owner changed the name to Greenhill Farm, much more appealing.”
In the case of the North Bank, however, the rebranding is just the icing on the cake of a substantial investment programme that is guaranteed to have a massive impact in boosting the area’s appeal. Plans are afoot to promote the area, upgrade the streets and boost safety and security. Several million pounds will go towards smartening up the area and make the renaming official, according to Ben. “The idea is to make Northbank more of a commercial hub than the South Bank, which is more of a cultural one.”
All of this should boost the already considerable appeal of the new developments that are being launched in the area, such as 353 The Strand (top images) and 19 Nineteen Street (above). “In Northbank,” says Ben, “there has been a lot of conversion from commercial to residential and the new name should assist in giving this area more of a residential identity than it currently has.”