Around 80% of Britain’s 26 million dwellings were built with a front plot, according to figures from the RAC Foundation.
Nearly a third of these have been turned into hardstanding which means seven million front gardens are now concreted for cars, says the foundation's new report Spaced Out: Perspectives on parking policy. The authors say this is a total area roughly equivalent to 72 Olympic Parks.
Houses built between 1919 and 1964 are most likely to have a front garden and so it is these properties that are most likely to have seen the change.
The report's authors blame the move to find extra parking space partly on the huge rise in car ownership. In 1950, there were two million cars. In 2011, there were 28.5 million and growing as the population rises.
Even where properties have garages they are increasingly being used for general storage rather than for vehicles or have been converted into extra accommodation. A third less cars are put away in a garage overnight than a decade ago.
“Car ownership is set to keep on rising, but where are these vehicles going to go? Unless we want to see more streets clogged up and front gardens disappear then councils need to address the matter," said Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation. "Ministers' decision last year to remove the cap on parking spaces at new developments will help.
“Even so we fear councils regard parking provision as an afterthought. Unlike their legal obligation to keep traffic moving there is no law that makes them provide adequate space for stationary cars, though we would regard the two topics as inextricably linked."