De­vel­op­ment of car parks ‘could solve hous­ing cri­sis’

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Melissa Law­ford

GOV­ERN­MENT-OWNED car parks could be­come the un­likely saviour of Bri­tain’s hous­ing cri­sis and de­liver bil­lions to the Trea­sury, a new re­port has found.

If just 15pc of the land oc­cu­pied by Eng­land’s 103,000 pub­lic sec­torowned car parks was de­vel­oped, the Gov­ern­ment could de­liver 110,000 new homes in ar­eas with good pub­lic trans­port, ac­cord­ing to re­search by prop­erty con­sul­tancy Knight Frank.

The sale of this land would raise £6bn for HM Trea­sury – a sum that would more than cover the £3.8bn bill of Chan­cel­lor Rishi Su­nak’s stamp duty hol­i­day.

The re­port was com­mis­sioned by the Min­istry of Hous­ing, Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, which has now mapped a pic­ture of which cen­tral gov­ern­ment de­part­ments own the coun­try’s car parks.

Over­all, the land cov­ered by these car parks across Eng­land could be used to build 2.1m homes – seven times the Gov­ern­ment’s an­nual tar­get of build­ing 300,000 new prop­er­ties.

The car parks clos­est to pub­lic trans­port links, and there­fore most suit­able for prop­erty de­vel­op­ment, are heav­ily con­cen­trated in Lon­don, where the coun­try’s short­age of homes is most acute. In June, the Gov­ern­ment re­leased plans to ex­am­ine how it can more ef­fec­tively use the land it owns.

Re­pur­pos­ing these car parks is fea­si­ble. Knight Frank’s study found that 91pc of Eng­land’s pub­lic sec­tor-owned car parks were within a five-minute walk of another car park. Two thirds of the car parks do not pro­vide mean­ing­ful ac­cess to high street re­tail. This means there is scope to re­lease land for new homes while main­tain­ing nec­es­sary car park­ing ser­vices. Ian McGuin­ness, au­thor of the Knight Frank re­port, said the find­ings co­in­cided with a need to re­assess the scale and use of space for pri­vate ve­hi­cles.

The Jan­uary Na­tional Travel At­ti­tudes Sur­vey found that 74pc of re­spon­dents agreed that mo­tor ve­hi­cle use should be re­duced to im­prove pub­lic health. It would pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive to the po­lit­i­cal mine­field of build­ing on green belt land around the cap­i­tal.

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