Recently, we passed through Nine Elms on the train, and noticed a new development, The Residence. That's its informal name, anyway. If you're not on chummy terms you might address it as The Residence at Nine Elms. Anyway, it has homes that are "superbly appointed" and benefits from "exceptional specification," which all sounds lovely and specific to us. 'Yes,' we thought, 'The Residence. Makes sense. Someone's going to be living in these — not us (it's got a concierge service and on-site gym) — but someone.'
Imagine our horror to discover that London has other The Residences.
The Residence also exists as "a group of beautifully crafted, contemporary luxury apartments" in West Hampstead. Without irony, it sells itself as "a unique opportunity to acquire an ideal London residence".
Then there's the former petrol station in Camberwell, which goes one step further. It calls itself The Residence South East Five. Use of 'The Residence' is only half its crime; you'd be hard pushed to find anyone in SE5 who would know what you were talking about if you said 'South East Five', let alone use the phrase themselves. Is its embellished, polished up postcode a cynical attempt to slide an extra few thousand onto the asking price? We were unable to get a quote from the people behind it — or from the other two The Residences, for that matter.
Flagrant use of the definite article is one issue, wanton lack of imagination is another. At least apartments like The Stage in Shoreditch or The Piano Factory in Camberwell give a nod to their past. Not only have the teams behind the various The Residences failed to reference what stood here before, they've failed to Google 'The Residence'. You know, just in case someone else had the same idea.
The Residence is not the only guilty brand at play; there are two The Apartments owned by the same company — one in Chelsea, one in Marylebone. There's also The Apartments hotel in Uxbridge and The Apartments in Stanmore. We can forgive these more easily, because most of The Apartments are short stay places — or at least don't appear to have beefy marketing hype behind them.
We need to watch out though. If London continues to be peppered with The Residences and The Apartments and The House and The Building and This Is Where I Live, not only will it become unimaginably dull — imagine the confusion it'll cause for Uber drivers.
Marketeers — let's start spending a little more time swotting up on local history, a little more time in those brainstorming sessions. Ten minutes at least. Otherwise, be more accurate, and name your development 'A Residence'.