The power of the postcode

Richard Hatch, partner and head of residential at Carter Jonas, checks out the pulling power of postcodes and what it says about where you are

It will be seven years this coming year since, in 2006, The Royal Mail undertook an exercise in which it allocated new postcodes in many postal districts in Cambridgeshire. Owners and occupiers in areas which were once, for example CB4 became CB24. It didn’t happen overnight and even now correspondence using the previous postcode does make it to its intended destination.

Richard Hatch of Carter Jonas

The postcodes were altered in preparation for the tens of thousands of new houses planned in the county in the coming 20 years.

Postcodes can say a lot about a location, especially to buyers who are unfamiliar with the area. But postcodes can also mislead.

For instance, the patch in which we operate from our central Cambridge office reaches across the CB postcode areas and actually creeps into the neighbouring county of Suffolk when it comes to Newmarket or Haverhill.

People living in the south Cambridgeshire villages of Melbourn and Shepreth would point out that they live in Cambridgeshire, yet their postal town is Royston and their postcodes begin with the digits SG, based on the Hertfordshire town of Stevenage. 

To the north of the county, St Ives and Huntingdon have a Peterborough PE postcode. To those not in the know on the postcode front, an association with Peterborough– although it is still cartographically in Cambridgeshire – could indicate something more urban than these two very Cambridgeshire market towns and the pretty villages encompassed by the PE designation.

Rarely do estate agents adverts mention the postcode when it comes to residential sales or lettings. Whereas commercial property colleagues would admit that, for businesses, it is useful to have a postcode associated with a business area of a city.

People running businesses from home often rent PO Box addresses at a known business location.  An association with a business park or central commercial district will carry more weight than Acacia Avenue in most business circles.

People moving within the county are more knowledgeable about what appears to be the random nature of CB postcodes. 

For example, a young couple who are making the transition from renting in central Cambridge to buying, with an eye to starting a family, will know that they will need access to the roads network, as well as good schools covered by villages in the CB24 or CB23 or CB22 area, perhaps.

Buyers familiar with the layout have the knowledge that Histon and associated villages – CB24 – to the north and Comberton – CB23 – and southern villages of Shelford and Sawston and Duxford – CB22 – for example, will meet the criteria for family homes, good primary and secondary schools and access to the A14/M11/A428 road interchanges.

Developer Brookgate has chosen ‘cb1’ as the name for its redevelopment of the area in and around Cambridge Railway Station.  In this instance, the digits are more than a postcode and within the city, ‘cb1’ is becoming the shorthand for referring to plans for the wholesale regeneration of the station area into a lively, cosmopolitan quarter of Cambridge.

While it is impossible to quantify how powerful a postcode is in terms of influencing house prices or the desirability of a location, there is definitely a cachet to certain postcodes.  But the truth about the power of postcodes is that – like a car – they tend to say more about where you are in terms of life stage and lifestyle more than location.

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