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

Colin Smale colin.smale at xs4all.nl
Mon Jan 28 23:25:21 UTC 2019

Chris, what would you see as a good data model for a UK address in OSM?
Just house number/name, street, postcode? It has been mentioned a couple
of times in this thread that the "addr:" model was intended in the UK to
contain postal addresses, not any other sort of address. Are you
suggesting only storing a subset of the full postal address, and doing a
PAF lookup to get the other fields? 

Apart from the PAF, GeoPlace is the other central repository of address
info which it obtains from LAs and RM. In this document it seems to
indicate that besides the postcode, the Post Town is also assigned by RM
(see page 50): 


On 2019-01-28 23:18, Chris Hill wrote:

> On 28/01/2019 21:56, Colin Smale wrote: 
> On 2019-01-28 22:22, Chris Hill wrote: 
> 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. 
> ...and for the benefit of anyone posting a letter and expecting it to get delivered properly...
 RM used to use postal towns when post was sorted by hand, but as soon
as mechanised sorting based on postcodes took over postal towns were
just a legacy that no one needed any more. In 1976 I posted a batch of
postcodes from my holiday in Norway. As an experiment I addressed one to
my parents as Number 10, HU14 3BA, UK. It arrived on the same day as all
the others because it had a postcode on it. So post towns were beginning
to be obsolete in 1976.

> In the UK places (as opposed to admin areas) don't have well-defined borders unfortunately. If you live in the "no-mans land" between two villages there is in many cases no way of determining if you are in Village A or Village B.
 Why does a postal town help with this? The postcode is much more
precise than a generalised post town that will cover a wide area - that
was the point of a post town.

>> 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.
> The LA is certainly responsible for house names/numbers and street names. Wouldn't all the rest (not just the post town) be down to RM?
 No the process is that RM only supply the 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.
> Are you saying is that there is no point in adding addresses to OSM? Addresses are also useful for the senders of letters, or users of navigation systems, so I think that might be a little controversial.
 Of course not. Addresses are a fine idea, but real addresses that
actually exist on the ground, not some mythical, out-of-date idea used
by one organisation in the past.

> This document gives loads of examples to aid the interpretation of PAF fields 
> https://www.royalmail.com/sites/default/files/docs/pdf/programmers_guide_edition_7_v5.pdf
 The RM PAF is not the definitive address list for the UK, it is just
the way RM sees it. It is widely used because there is no other
published list of addresses. If we ever see a proper national address
list compiled from the UPRN that local authorities maintain it will not
include any field introduced by a company such as post town. OSM can
help here by not confusing addresses with RM's muddled postal addresses.

Chris Hill (chillly)

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