Huge growth in off-street parking despite postcode price lottery

  • Nearly 30,000 dropped kerb applications approved in 2015, facilitating increase in off-street resident parking
  • Estate agents see off-street parking as a key factor in improving the desirability of a property and adding to its value
  • Almost £3 million generated for councils from application fees in 2015, up 68 per cent from 2013
  • Some councils charge hundreds of pounds, with others charging nothing

New analysis1 reveals a dramatic growth in off-road parking as residents apply for kerbs to be lowered to allow vehicles to access their property. Across the UK, successful applications for the installation of dropped kerbs (vehicle crossovers) have increased by 49 per cent between 2013 and 20152, with 29,587 applications approved in 2015. This came from a total of 42,281 applications for kerbs to be dropped throughout the year, meaning that overall applications increased by more than 13,000 between 2013 and 2015.  

The research from home insurer Direct Line reveals that demand may be increasing because residents across the UK increasingly face on-street parking restrictions. In addition, research among estate agents highlighted off-street parking as a key factor in improving the desirability of a property and adding to its value3.

Local authorities across the UK are generating millions of pounds in revenue from dropped kerb applications. In 2015 alone, more than £2.9 million was generated in application fees, up 68 per cent from 2013. Kent County Council approved the most dropped kerb applications in 2015 with all 1,394 of its requests granted.

While vehicle crossover approvals are on the increase, almost one in 10 (eight per cent) applications have been rejected this year.  Cheshire and West Chester Council has rejected the most requests, declining 138 applications for a vehicle crossover, equivalent to 78 per cent of all those wishing to install a new vehicular access point within the council's boundaries.

It is a postcode lottery when it comes to residents making an application for a dropped kerb in the UK4. Some local authorities, such as Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, do not charge for applications while Dorset County Council bills £267.50, Kent charges £150 and Bromley £100. 

There is even a significant disparity between London boroughs, with residents of the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames paying a non-refundable application charge of £210, while in Wandsworth residents are charged just £45. The average cost of an application, including those boroughs where it is free, is £66 in the UK.

As well as approving the most applications, Kent County Council also generated more than £400,000 from dropped kerb applications in 2015 and earned over £400,000 in 2015 - nearly £80,000 more (24 per cent) than in 2014.  This income was more than double the amount of second-placed Surrey County Council, which earned more than £190,000 from these applications over the same time period.

Table one: Local authorities generating the most revenue from dropped kerb applications

Local Authority Change in revenue generated, 2014-2015 Revenues generated from applications in 2015 Revenues generated from applications in 2014
Kent County Council +24% £404,976.00 £325,728.00
Surrey County Council -5% £191,411.00 £201,523.00
Hertfordshire County Council +36% £118,185.00 £86,756.00
London Borough of Barking & Dagenham +560% £127,200.00 £19,261.00
Northamptonshire County Council +30% £107,600.00 £82,824.00
Derbyshire County Council +8% £28,132.42 £26,047.75
Dorset County Council 0% £78,912.50 £78,786.50
Staffordshire County Council +16% £63,250.00 £54,632.19
Wolverhampton City Council -20% £43,566.00 £54,620.40
Suffolk County Council -18% £58,400.00 £71,200.00

Source: Direct Line's analysis of information supplied by UK local authorities, 2016

Rebecca Clapham, head of household products at Direct Line, commented: "As the number of cars on the road increases, so does pressure on available spaces and this, combined with the cost of on-street parking and residents' permits, means that many homeowners see dropping the kerb to create an off-street parking space as an attractive option. As estate agents highlight, it is also an opportunity for homeowners to add value to their property and to make it more attractive to potential buyers".

"For many local authorities, applications for changes to parking access and other planning requests are a valuable source of additional revenue.  It is, however, a postcode lottery, while some authorities charge nothing for applications others charge hundreds of pounds."

Table two: Analysis of dropped kerb applications made to UK authorities 2013-20155

Dropped kerb applications made to UK authorities 2013-2015
Year 2013 2014 2015 13-15 % change
Count 28,583 36,974 42,281 48%

Applications approved
Year 2013 2014 2015 13-15 % change
Count 19,898 25,712 29,587 49%

Applicationcs rejected
Year 2013 2014 2015 13-15 % change
Count 2,404 3,246 3,605 50%

Revenue generated from applications
Year 2013 2014 2015 13-15 % change
Count £1,729,565.92 £2,469,965.14 £2,906,341.23 68%

Source: Direct Line's analysis of information supplied by UK local authorities, 2016

Across the UK, householders need to apply for permission if they wish to drop the kerb outside their property to allow a car to cross the pavement safely from the road.  Householders are prohibited from driving across pavements and verges when a vehicle crossover has not been installed because it might damage the surface or pipes and cables buried underneath. A vehicle crossover will enable kerbs to be dropped from their normal height and the pavement or verge strengthened to take the weight of vehicles crossing it.

Notes to editors:

1 Direct Line's analysis of data supplied in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request to UK local authorities on 5th May 2016. Analysis covers the latest available full-year figures

2 Unless otherwise specified the period for comparative analysis for year on year changes in year commencing 2013 to year ending 2015, as these periods have full complete data sets available for accurate comparative analysis.

3 We asked ten estate agents who all confirmed that the addition of an off-street parking space would have a positive impact on the value and desirability of a property.

4 Direct Line analysis of County Council websites on the application process for dropped kerbs.

5 Data only includes findings from local authorities that acceded to the request to supply.

For further information please contact:

Claire Foster
Deputy head of news
Direct Line Group
Tel: 01651 831 672
claire.foster@directlinegroup.co.uk

Antonia Green
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Antonia.green@citigatedr.co.uk
0207 2892 2967

Direct Line

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Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com

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