Should we change our front garden into a private parking space?

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We would like to change our front garden into an off-street parking space, partly for our own convenience and partly because we hear it is a good way to add value to an urban property.

Do we need planning permission from the council, and will they take responsibility for dropping the kerb?

Also, will it add value to our home, and are there any other considerations to take before we start carrying out the work? Via email

Private parking spaces can be deemed a luxury in some urban locations where on-street parking spaces are in high demand

Private parking spaces can be deemed a luxury in some urban locations where on-street parking spaces are in high demand

Ed Magnus of This is Money replies: A private parking space can be a very appealing feature for homeowners living within a city, town or even a village.

On-street parking can be in high demand, meaning you may often be forced to park your car some distance from your property.

There may also be the added cost of paying your local council for a parking permit.

The ongoing costs, the inconvenience and the potential for adding value to your home may seem like sufficient reason to create your own private parking space.

The front garden may also seem like a wasted area; the lack of privacy meaning few will use it for anything other than an entrance.

But there are also downsides to consider, such as obtaining permission, the costs of the works and the loss of a green space.

There are specific rules relating to homeowners wishing to pave over their front gardens.

Homeowners will not need planning permission if a new driveway uses permeable or porous surfacing which allows water to drain through it.

Off-street parking can add substantial value to your home, especially in areas where parking on the street is not allowed or requires an expensive permit

Off-street parking can add substantial value to your home, especially in areas where parking on the street is not allowed or requires an expensive permit

Examples include gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt.

Equally, if the surface slopes to allow rainwater to move in the direction of a lawn or border and can drain naturally, this will also be okay.

But planning permission is required if you want to lay a non-permeable material, such as a stone or concrete driveway that is more than 5 square metres.

To put that in perspective, the average UK parking bay size is 2.4 metres by 4.8 meters, according to the AA – a total of 11.52 square meters.

So to achieve anything big enough using traditional stone or concrete, you’ll need planning permission.

Asphalt can cost £45 to £75 per square metre to lay, but you won't need planning permission

Asphalt can cost £45 to £75 per square metre to lay, but you won’t need planning permission

You will also need permission from your local council to drop the kerb, and the pavement may need strengthening – this is to protect any services buried under the ground such as water pipes.

Applying for a dropped kerb involves paying a non-refundable application fee to your local council.

The cost will vary from council to council, but the average person can expect to pay about £250 in the UK.

Each local council will charge different amounts for dropping a kerb, but the average cost for the complete job is usually between £800 and £1200, according to tradesman site MyJobQuote.

A paved front garden can look rather bare and unappealing, even if it is practical

A paved front garden can look rather bare and unappealing, even if it is practical

Before starting work you will need to take into account the costs of dismantling and levelling your front garden, which can vary considerably.

The driveway installation itself will depend largely on what surface material you opt for.

For concrete driveways, it will typically cost between £30 and £50 per square metre, according to the tradesman site MyBuilder.

Asphalt can cost around £45 to £75 per square metre, whilst brick paving will typically cost between £60 and £100 per square metre.

We spoke to Paula Higgins co-founder of the HomeOwners Alliance; Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman; and Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the Royal Horticultural Society to give you some greater guidance on the matter.

Are the council responsible for dropping the kerb?

Paula Higgins replies: You will always need to apply for permission from the council’s highways team for a dropped kerb, and you will need to pay for this.

Costs can range from £500 – £1600 and this is dependent on the building materials needed and whether the ground needs strengthening.

Costs can go higher if, for instance, cables or pipes need to be moved, as well as trees, street furniture or utility boxes.

The local authority will undertake an engineer inspection, at your expense, before a quote can be provided, and if agreed, it will carry out the work.

Will off-street parking add value?

Jeremy Leaf replies: In terms of value and saleability, car parking spaces attract more of a premium in areas where parking is difficult or expensive, such as in city or town centres.

The only way you can establish whether having a parking space will command a premium is to look at other properties for sale in your area.

See if there is a difference in asking price between similar properties that do have parking spaces and those that don’t.

If you are unsure, before beginning work to drop the kerb and building a space, consult your local estate agent to see if they have an opinion on the matter.

For buyers who use a car regularly, they will value a private parking space and pay more for it – particularly if there is no provision nearby – just for the convenience.

Parking restrictions don’t tend to get relaxed, so building a space may well prove a good investment.

Are there any other considerations?

Guy Barter replies: Front gardens are an important resource for many reasons.

For example they help to soak up excess rain water and reduce flooding, and they shield you from road pollution.

We suggest people consider planting a hedge alongside any parking space – recent research has shown hedges to be good at capturing pollution and intercepting run-off water.

Planting trees in corners where the car isn’t parked, and making suitable beds and borders can also help with this.

Even if no other opportunities arise, hanging baskets and potted plants can make some contribution, not least to your own well-being.

Our research has shown that having plants and vegetation outside your home is beneficial for a person’s mental health.

Paula Higgins replies: It’s also a good idea to speak to your neighbours before considering such a project.

Neighbours can feel strongly and you may be able to offer some concessions, such as extra planting to block their view of your car.

Or indeed, they might be thinking of doing the same thing and could be supportive of your project.

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