The better way to go off the road

If parking is proving to be a nightmare, one option is to turn your front garden into your own private car park.
Click to follow

Parking, or the lack of it, seems to be a common problem where garages are non-existent and households have more than one car. The simple option would be to turn your front garden, if it's big enough, into an off-street parking space. Comparing a selection of local authorities countrywide (Wigan, Wolverhampton, Isle of Wight, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Bromley in Kent) shows the cost and procedure of installing a drop kerb varies widely.

Parking, or the lack of it, seems to be a common problem where garages are non-existent and households have more than one car. The simple option would be to turn your front garden, if it's big enough, into an off-street parking space. Comparing a selection of local authorities countrywide (Wigan, Wolverhampton, Isle of Wight, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Bromley in Kent) shows the cost and procedure of installing a drop kerb varies widely.

Who do I apply to?

Contact your local authority highways department for an application form. An administration or inspection fee of around £20 to £58 is usual and can include the cost of planning application and gaining consent from the utility companies for footpath alterations above theirservices. The fee may be non-refundable, although some authorities refund half if you do not go ahead with the work and others take if off the quoted price. Wolverhampton offers a free, no-obligation quote.

What happens next?

A highways officer will visit your home to measure the garden and mark out the pavement. You should know from this visit if you will be given consent and whether or not highways needs to apply for planning permission.

You will then be sent a quote for the work, which will cover the removal of any paving slabs, laying of tarmac up to the boundary of your property and building a drop kerb. Some of these quotes are valid for up to six weeks, others for six months or more.

How much will it cost?

That depends on where you live. Average costs are: Wigan around £193 (charged at £38 per linear metre of kerb); Wolverhampton, £300-£400; Bromley, £480; Windsor and Maidenhead, £450- £550; Isle of Wight, from £400 (an extra charge will be made if planning permission is necessary). A double-width crossing or the repositioning of street furniture (lamp-posts, trees, etc) will greatly increase these figures.

Do I have a choice of contractor?

Of the local authorities surveyed, Bromley was the only one that did not give its residents a choice of contractor. Wigan has its own highways' labour or gives residents the option of their own contractor, as long as its one that holds £2m public liability insurance. Windsor and Maidenhead offers a choice of four approved companies, as well as the council's own labour force.

Wolverhampton allows any established contractor, as well as its own, as long as their work complies with health and public safety requirements. The Isle of Wight does not provide its own contractors or a list of approved ones. Anyone can do the work but if, following inspection, it is not of a high enough standard it must be corrected within 28 days or the council will make good the work - and recover the charge from the deposit it holds.

When do I pay?

Bromley and Windsor and Maidenhead ask for the payment in full at least three weeks before work starts. Isle of Wight asks for a deposit from £200 for a single-width crossing and it is up to the resident to pay their chosen contractor accordingly. Wigan needs a £70 deposit to arrange its own contractors, with the balance payable on completion. Wolverhampton asks for 20 per cent of the cost up front, the balance payable either three to four weeks later or in interest-free instalments over six months.

Is the work monitored and how long will it take?

Inspection is more likely if non-local authority contractors are used. Otherwise, random inspections are more likely. From the time of application to the work being completed could take up to eight weeks, longer if planning permission is needed.

Who is responsible for its upkeep?

The local authority. If an outside contractor is used it is their responsibility for the first 12 months, then the local authority takes over.

Could I be refused permission?

Yes, if the road is too busy for reversing out on to, if it creates a hazard for pedestrians or if there is insufficient room between the property and the pavement to park a car. If no one in your road has off-street parking there's probably a good reason.

How can I pay less for off-street parking?

If the local authority is due to replace the pavement in the near future, it may be prepared to do the work at the same time and at a reduced cost. Disabled residents should qualify for a free service.

Why can't I just drive over the pavement and onto my garden?

The Highways Act makes it an offence to cross a public highway without permission. Where resources are available, your local authority will inspect public highways and prosecute where necessary. The police can also take action if it comes to their attention. In any case, eventually the footpath will be damaged, causing a hazard to pedestrians and possibly damaging any utility services running under the pavement.

Pros and cons

The fewer cars parked on the road the greater the traffic flow, however, in a crowded street one parking space will be lost, but another gained if two cars can park off-street. It could become a safety issue for pedestrians, especially for young children.

You could find the local authority has your money for some time before work commences, and it may fail to inform you of the progress of your application.

Comments