WHAT’S in a number?

Well, quite a lot, according to superstitious council chiefs.

Durham County Council’s cabinet yesterday agreed to exclude the number 13 from new streets in the county.

The guidelines will also apply to converted homes on existing streets.

Dave Wilcox, the council’s strategic highways manager, said the change reflected the concerns of housing developers who often struggled to sell homes located on plot number 13.

“There have also been occasions in the past where the council has been asked to re-number a property as 12A rather than 13 by developers or homeowners,” he said.

Afterwards, John Nicholson, manager of the Durham branch of Dowen estate agents, said: “Concerns about the number 13 do come up.

“We’ve had some occasions of people re-naming their house from 13. High Street, in High Shincliffe, has a 12A, not 13, so it is a factor. But then I’ve just sold a property in Langley Moor which is 13 North Brancepeth Close.

“People with the choice don’t go for 13, so leaving out 13 is already quite common on new-build estates. I think overall it bothers more people than it doesn’t. We don’t come across 13 frequently, but when we do we always get comments.”

The guidelines are contained in the council’s new Street Naming and Numbering Policy, which was agreed by councillors meeting at Durham Town Hall yesterday.

The council has a legal duty for naming and numbering streets across the county – a task previously carried out by the now-defunct district councils.

Its new policy also encourages street names which reflect the local, geographic or historic significance of an area.

Naming streets after living people will be banned.

Councillor Bob Young, the council’s cabinet member for strategic environment, said the policy would ensure new street names and numbers were allocated logically so addresses were clear and unambiguous.

This would help postal workers deliver mail efficiently and emergency services find properties quickly, he added.