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Government car parks could deliver 110,000 new UK homes

Kalila Sangster
·2-min read
File photo dated 01/02/18 of houses under construction. More new homes were registered in 2019 across the UK than in any other year since 2007, according to an industry body.
Underused government owned car parks could be repurposed as sites for new homes, a new study has found. Photo: PA

A new study has highlighted the scale of potential development opportunity of government owned car parks across England.

Selecting just 15% of public sector owned car parks best situated for housing, estate agent Knight Frank has identified potential to deliver more than 110,000 new homes in areas with higher public transport connectivity across England.

The sale of these homes could in turn raise £6bn ($7.5bn) in land receipts for the Treasury, according to Knight Frank.

After mapping the extent of England’s 103,000 public and private surface car parks, the study found that the total amount of land used by government owned surface car parks could yield 2.1 million homes, or seven years’ supply of housing at the government’s stated target of building 300,000 new homes per year.

Two-thirds of the public sector-owned car parks do not provide meaningful access to high street shops, and that 91% of public sector surface car parks actually have another car park within a five-minute walk, the study found.

The report suggested some of these spaces could be repurposed as sites for new homes, while still maintaining car parking services.

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Stuart Baillie, head of planning at Knight Frank, said: “Given the express need for housing and the mounting pressure on our green spaces and conservation assets it is imperative that all ‘brownfield’ and underutilised land is properly assessed for its development potential. Delivering housing on the country’s underused car parks will also drive environmental and social benefits.”

In June, the government announced plans to look at how the land it owns can be managed more effectively, including assessing how public sector land can be managed and released so it can be put to better use, such as for home building.

Car use is also a factor to be considered, according to the study. “The pace of development of autonomous vehicles means we should already be thinking about the scale, location and utility of space currently tied up with privately owned vehicles,” said Ian McGuinness, head of geospatial at Knight Frank.

“The figures are compelling — 76% of respondents on the National travel attitudes survey agree we should reduce car use for the sake of the environment, and one ReThinkX study estimates personal car ownership could drop as much as 80% over as little as 15 years.”