[Talk-GB] Tagging post towns and other addressing issues in the UK

Chris Hill osm at raggedred.net
Mon Jan 28 21:22:03 UTC 2019

Post town do not exist, and never have. They are a fiction invented by 
Royal Mail for their own internal use which they persuaded the public 
into using for the sole benefit of Royal Mail.

A postal town was simply a place where there was a sorting office for 
distributing the post to surrounding areas. These are increasingly being 
closed. RM's postal town for my village was the next door village, 
perfectly nice place but it has nothing to do with my village's address. 
That post office and sorting office has now closed and the sorting 
process has mover to a town nearby, but my postal town hasn't changed. 
That's because RM don't use postal towns any more but because they are 
next to useless at maintaining the PAF they are still included in it. 
They took nearly twenty years to remove the counties they invented ( 
North Humberside never existed except in RM's fairy land), so I expect 
it will take a long time to remove the broken postal towns too.

Addresses are not maintained by RM, local authorities are responsible 
for addresses (which obviously don't include postal towns), except for 
the postcode. Most LAs have a system to request a new postcode from RM 
when a planning application gets approved that will need a new postcode.

I don't see what purpose adding post towns to OSM would serve. The ONLY 
people who ever used it were Royal Mail as they were the only 
organisation to have a sorting office there. I'm sure RM don't need OSM 
to make deliveries, so who would we be benefiting by including this? To 
anyone else looking for an address the postal town is just confusing.

Chris Hill (chillly)

On 27/01/2019 20:40, Andrzej wrote:
> Hi,
> When working on post codes in East Anglia I realised the current 
> address tagging scheme is insufficient for even fairly basic 
> scenarios. I have already discussed the issues with some of the most 
> experienced mappers and like to bring these issues to your attention. 
> Robert has summarised his ideas in 
> https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/User:Rjw62/UK_Address_Mapping
> The bottom line is, I would like to be tag commonly used addresses 
> without losing information and without resorting to addr:full.
> Issues:
> 1. Post towns (most pressing one because there is a lot of confusion 
> around it). The UK is fairly unique in that not every town is a post 
> town. This makes it impossible to tag e.g. Station Road, Histon, 
> Cambridge CB24 9LF.
> Wiki recommends addr:city to be used for tagging post towns 
> (Cambridge) but then how do we tag Histon?
> - Robert recommends sticking to the current meaning of addr:city and 
> using addr:town and addr:village for town and village names, which, 
> although not in wiki, are already being used in the UK. I like this 
> solution because it is very explicit in what each addr: key means and 
> it doesn't redefine addr:city.
> - SK53 prefers using addr:city for everything (towns, even villages) 
> and either not tagging post towns (they can be seen as a an internal 
> detail of a closed Royal Mail database) or using a new tag for it, 
> like addr:post_town. It is a simple solution, results in Histon being 
> called Histon and not Cambridge (without introducing new tags for town 
> and village names) and is commonly used. It is also a bit confusing 
> (what exactly is a city?) and I think we we should at least support 
> tagging post towns.
> Key questions:
> a) addr:city for post towns or towns and villages?
> b) how to rag remaining information (respectively, towns and villages 
> or post towns,)
> 2. Tagging addresses within campuses, business parks etc. There is 
> addr:place but it is supposed to be used instead of addr:street. 
> Again, Robert has a fairly decent proposal for that using addr:place 
> or addr:locality and addr:parentstreet. Please comment.
> 2a. should buildings in campuses be tagged with 
> addr:buildingnumber/name or addr:unit? I would prefer 
> buildingname/number (as they are often subdivided) but these seem to 
> be associated with addr:street.
> 3. Similar to (2) but for buildings. Tagging buildings that have e.g. 
> a single name but multiple house numbers?

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