Planning Permission UK - Articles and Opinions

Friday, November 04, 2005

OFF ROAD CAR PARKING - WHAT VALUE and WHEN DO YOU NEED TO APPLY FOR PLANNING?

Isn't it a shame that for most folk, taking a holiday means moving en-mass with millions of other people also doing the same thing! Long journeys, loads of bodies at airports and long traffic queues in humid conditions - why do we do it?

Strange thing is, - do we ever notice any easier parking provision in our towns and cities while all these people are travelling away from home to these holiday locations? I haven't.
For a great many of us (myself included), street parking outside ones own home is getting to be a bit of a luxury these days. Those properties with well designed highway access and off road parking have a definite added value element to their homes that will be of even greater value as the years proceed.

Therefore, any property without the facility for off road car parking may be seriously less desirable in 5 years time for example. There is also a 'sustainability' element that conflicts with this desire for people to park their 4 wheel 'designer badge' off the road. I guarantee you will not see many late model Merc's BMW's or other german machinery parked in the gutter these days. Many Planners would have you believe that we are unable to sustain this level of car dependency but even if petrol went up to £10 a gallon, most people would rather starve than not put juice in the car to get us around - it's a freedom thing!

So, your property does not have any off street parking at present but has the ability to be modified to incorporate such a space or three. I can guarantee that the cost of installing such a facility for a dwelling (even if it is just one car space) will add significantly to the value and desirability of your home and is often a very easy thing to have done. The problem arises when people do this without any thought for the design, materials and if Planning Consent is required.

Generally speaking, if you live on a classified road (A, B, C, D, etc.) then you will need formal planning permission. When consent is required the Highways have a whole set of requirements for vision splays, materials, dimensions etc. that many properties are unable to comply with. So even if you could do it, you may well be prevented on road safety issues by the Highways and Planning Dept. There can be ways around this but it does involve a degree of risk that is explained within our Planning guide.

Properties on unclassified roads can have a field day as no formal Planning permission is normally required and a new access can be installed in any location. Regretfully, this has led to some very unsightly car parking spaces in small front gardens of lovely Victorian terraces for example. Generally speaking, the smaller the property and its front garden, the harder it is to design something that respects the local character.

As a guide, great attention and detailing must be placed on material selection and ancillary landscaping elements. You would be amazed just how much a car parking space can be improved visually with strategically located planting, bunding, planters, paving and curves - yes curves. The poorest quality of car parking simply uses gravel or concrete without any edge detailing or thinking as to the pedestrian access to the front or side doors when a car is actually parked - poor old posty can have one hell of a job delivering the mail at times.
So think about these issues and don't try to install an off road car parking facility on the cheap as that's exactly how your properties curb side appeal will be - cheap!.

Finding out whether or not your property is on a classified road is simply a matter of telephoning the council and asking that question. Also, please remember that you will still need to have a dropped kerb installed and this can only be completed by a contractor that is on the Highways approved list as they need a huge amount of liability insurance to dig up pavements and roads. Again, have this done correctly with the proper matching sets and materials for making good. A concrete repaired path adjoining tarmac looks awful.

If you can, always make sure that your actual parking bay area is of a min. size of 2.4M x 4.8M. You may only have a small mini but the next owner is bound to have a boring BMW that wont fit and most people who pander to these German status symbols wont change their car to fit your parking slot. Also remember that you should allow a greater width of parking bay if your have raised walling or planters for example around the bay other wise you may not get out of the car door.

Our 'Maximum Build Planning Guide' explains further the tactics involved when developing land or a site for residential use and how to give yourself the best chance of being granted an approval.

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