Parking is at a premium in most UK towns and cities. It’s estimated that there will be some 31.7m cars on our roads this year.
Some 45% of UK households have one car, while 23% have two and 7% three or more vehicles. These figures are increasing at 1-2% a year so pressure on parking is growing.
Converting a front garden into an off-street parking space(s) is one way of alleviating the parking congestion problem. What were once lawns and flowerbeds are increasingly becoming concreted-over family parking bays.
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How to proceed
Under Section 184 of the Highways Act of 1980, you can ask for permission from your local council – whichever authority is responsible for highways in your area. Do not proceed without Local Authority permission.
You may think, ‘it’s only chopping a bit of kerbstone, why all the bother?’ However, there are road and pedestrian safety concerns and infrastructure issues to be considered.
Pavements are built for pedestrians, not to carry the weight of a car or other vehicle. The pavement may have to be strengthened and the kerbstone ‘dropped’ to allow ease of access to the offstreet parking.
Related: how to add kerb appeal to your house
Information you will need to provide
Typically the council will want to know the following:
Are you the freeholder of the property? If not, do you have written permission for this work to be done from the freeholder? You would have to provide written confirmation, preferably a solicitor’s letter.
Does your proposed vehicle access – the pavement between your drive and the highway, link to a classified road?
Is the property in a conservation area? The kerb and pavement alterations could affect the look of the area.
Will surface water run off your property onto the road or pavement? This is important for drainage and why permeable material is required for new off-street parking.
Will the parking area be at a perpendicular angle to the road?
How far is the proposed vehicle access from street lighting, telegraph pole, street furniture (waste bins etc) or a telegraph pole?
Would the parked vehicle obstruct any escape route (in the case of fire, say) from a garage or the main house?
How close are you to any trees or grass verge planted within the highway (pavement)?
What is the visibility for pedestrians either side of the access area?
If you want gated access, would the gates open onto the pavement?
You would also be expected to provide a measured sketch of the area that will be affected and, if possible, provide digital photographs of the area that will be affected.
The more information you can supply the better.
Once the local authority has granted the license, the work can proceed. The work will be done specialist constructors, either working for the council directly, such as in Liverpool, or from an approved list of a dozen or so firms, as in East Sussex CC. You should not proceed with your own builder or attempt to do the work yourself.
Dropped kerb costs
Local authority charges for a dropped kerb/vehicle access licence vary throughout the country.
In Liverpool, there is a £50 application fee for a Vehicle Access Licence and charges will depend on the amount of work to be done, length of kerb, grass verge removal etc. Typically the total cost will be around the £600 mark, but each application is unique.
In East Sussex, the license application fee is £275 and the construction fees start around the £1,200+VAT mark.
Creating the off-street area
These vehicle access costs are, of course, exclusive of the work that you will have to pay for in building your off street parking area. These costs can be considerable depending on the area you require converting.
Talk to people who have had the work done. Get at least three written quotes and ensure that the construction is done by a company that meets trading standards approval and/or is listed under the government’s Buy With Confidence scheme.
Get a checklist from the council of the materials that should be used and be confident that the specifications for drainage/run-off are met in the designs.
Insist on a written guarantee for the work being done.
Will off-street parking add value to your house?
As a rule of thumb, estate agents estimate that off-street parking can add the value of at least double the outlay to your property, obviously depending on parking availability in the area. It’s even suggested that off-street parking is even preferable to a garage, with the upkeep and buildings insurance a garage may require.
If you do not have the appropriate license (the kerb has not been sloped in order to access your driveway) then you should not advertise your house as having off-street parking, even if there is hard-standing instead of a garden.
Related: how to improve your house while adding value
Costs and regulations vary but for a typical local authority guide to the process, see East Sussex Council's guide
Find your local highways authority at Gov.uk.
Find out more with the Saga Equity Release Advice Service.