There is currently a consultation notice on a drain pipe at the entrance of Bond Street Laine stating that this street will be re-named at the request of a local history society if no one objects. Objections have to be made in writing to the Magistrate Court in Edward Street by May 18.

The naming of streets are governed by the Sections 64 and 65 of the Towns Improvement Clauses Act 1847 together with Section 21 of the Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907 and Sections 17 - 19 of the Public Health Act 1925. No wonder citizens can get confused. And every council has a guidance note prefaced with words to the effect that street naming and numbering can sometimes be a highly sensitive and emotive issue, particularly when it becomes necessary to make changes.

West Laine, North Laine etc

Last year there was an e-petition set up pleading for Bond Street Laine to be re-named Bond Street Lane because it offended the sensibilities of local historians and others who argued that "'laine' is a word of anglo-saxon origin meaning loan or lease and was the Sussex dialect term for the open arable fields of the feudal system of agriculture. Its use has survived uniquely in Brighton to the present day and its correct application should be jealously guarded as part of Brighton's history and unique character."

Recently, a local councillor has been trying to promote West Laine as a marketing tool to encourage regeneration in the Preston Street area, as if the now-flourishing North Laine was actually caused by the naming of North Laine Conservation Area as an area. Indeed, this kind of economic magic is often wheeled out by politicians, along with the snake oil.

What is important is what the people who in the street think about it: they are the ones who have to put up with the name, they are the ones who are born, work, live and die in that street. None of the signatories of the petition seem to have lived it that street. And the council is to be congratulated for re-consulting on the matter when no-one had made any objections, whatever the reason for the re-consultation.

On psychogeography

Bond Street Laine, by drawing attention to laine, reminds readers/tourists of the term and allows them to enter the Laine with an understanding of the history. With 30 years' use with no significant problems as a street name, the owners/ occupants are entitled to retain the name and expect respect for that.

It is unnecessary and inappropriate to re-write history in this way by re-naming the laine to a lane or, indeed, a lain (see BN1 9PR.) Residents are entitled to a high degree of certainty as to the name of the very street in which they actually live for nearly 30 years. There is an alternative solution: the Brighton Society could put an interpretation board to explain the history of the area below the street nameplate.

Future use of laine for new streets, be they in West Laine or elsewhere, can easily be restricted whilst retaining Bond Street Laine thus respecting its and its residents own history. Indeed, there is a case to be made for the liberation of the word laine as a terminal and its use in new developments in Brighton.

After all, there is one other street in Brighton using the term laine viz. Laine Close BN1 6RU and BN1 5TD off the London Road. And there is a street in Falmer using the variant spelling “Lain” BN1 9PR.

It is thus not unique and emphasises the fact that there is a current use of that terminal and name. Elsewhere, there is The Laines, Ross-On-Wye, HR9 7FH, Laines Head in Chippenham, SN15 1PH, Laine Road in Steyning, Old Laine in Harrietsham and The Laine in Gorsley.

Sufficiently fit for purpose

Bond Street Laine is named as laine in the conservation area statement. The conservation area was designated in 1977 and extended in 1989 and 1995. In both later statements, no request to change the name of Bond Street Laine nor mention of historical inaccuracy was made.

It is named also on the OS map associated with the Article March 4-19 2005 amendment. Whilst the 1981 street might lack a degree of historical accuracy, the use of this term (Bond Street Laine) reflects the current quirkiness and character of the area and thus perfectly appropriate to the area.

Spelling mistakes or invented linguistic traditions such as Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe or indeed Bond Street Laine are not sufficient reason to change the name of a street.

It is quite often that a terminal name does not actually have to mean what it actually is, eg a terrace does to have to be a terrace and a laine does not have to be a laine. In both cases, the directional meaning is sufficiently clear. It is sufficiently fit for purpose.

Applied Psychogeotherapy

The naming of Bond Street Laine in 1981 by East Sussex CC was conducted with due diligence. The decision was made consciously (i.e. it was not a spelling mistake) by the developer or ESCC and possibly precisely because it gave due respect to the area. It may be it has a degree of historical inappropriateness, but the degree of inappropriateness is at a low level.

Land surveys (or terrier) made on 1738 and 1792 for the purposes identifying who owned what and where in the five laines (West, Little, East, Hilly and North) show that there was no named laine between North Road and Church Street. The term laine originated from these terriers as a form of owner/occupier land register for conveyance purposes, and thus it was in effect an early estate agency term. Indeed, one terrier for the Fifth Furlong in Hilly Laine has the 51 strips of land parcelled up for only 10 landowners, including the Duke of Dorset and Thomas Kemp.

This is a case for applied psychogeography or at least some technical psychogeotherapy. It is not too late for the council, having read the objections, to decide that the magistrates should not be bothered by such matters and withdraw gracefully with the consent of the parties.

Alternatively, it could be billed as a event in the Brighton Festival instead.

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