December 11 2013 Latest news:
Dan Grimmer and Adam Gretton
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Dozens of householders in Norwich are making a second income by renting out parking places in their driveways, it has emerged.
Some are making more than a hundred pounds a month through the practice, which has just been given the thumbs-up by communities secretary Eric Pickles.
And experts said there are more than 100,000 driveways in Norfolk which could potentially be pulling in money for their owners.
There are more than 70 such parking spaces currently being offered in Norwich on websites – some on a daily basis for anything from £2 to £10 a day and others for months at a time.
The practice of renting parking spaces has become more common in recent years, with a number of websites helping match motorists up to spaces in and near town centres, train stations, airports and sports grounds.
Amid reports that some people across the country have been told by councils that they will need to pay planning application fee costs of about £385 before renting out their driveway – or face a fine of up to £20,000, Mr Pickles last week entered the fray.
He said: “Councils should be welcoming common sense ways that help hard-working people park more easily and cheaply and help families to make some spare cash.
“Councils shouldn’t be interfering in an honest activity that causes no harm to others, unless there are serious concerns. Parking charges and fines are not a cash cow for town halls.
“This government is standing up against the town hall parking bullies and over-zealous parking enforcement.”
But local councils said they had not been taking action against those who rent out their driveways.
A spokesman for Norwich City Council said they did not recognise the practice as a change of use and there was no need for planning charges or enforcement if people were renting out their driveways.
A spokesman for Broadland District Council said: “We have never been approached by someone wanting permission to rent out space in their drive and we have never taken any enforcement action against anyone doing so, it just hasn’t been an issue for us.
“The issue would be whether there was a permanent and significant change of use. For example, if someone had a large space attached to their house near to a major airport and were effectively running a parking business they would need change of use permission under the current rules – if they’re letting a couple of cars park in their drive during a football match, they wouldn’t.”
But Mr Pickles has announced new guidance – to be included in a current review seeking to consolidate planning practice – which will mean homeowners should be able to rent a single parking space without planning permission “provided there is no public nuisance to neighbours, or other substantive concerns”.
Householders looking to change their garden into a car park or for other commercial uses would still require planning permission, he added.
The practice only works if people have private driveways, so, for instance, somebody with a visitor parking permit in a terraced Norwich street would not be able to rent out their permit.
One Norwich family said they were making up to £150 a month by renting out their driveway for people parking to fly from the nearby airport.
The Cozens family, who live in Holt Road, north Norwich, signed up to the Parkatmyhouse.com website two years ago as a way of making some extra money.
Karen Cozens, 42, a shop assistant in the city, said they rented out four spaces after registering with the website. She said that drivers booked the spaces online and paid via PayPal, which were rented by travellers using Norwich International Airport.
Mrs Cozens added that her husband Kevin used the website to park on people’s driveways when travelling to Norwich City away fixtures. “We charge £25 a week and it is the busiest this time of the year. We have never had an issue with people overstaying their welcome and it works well for us,” she said.
Mrs Cozens said that they once had to wheel a disabled customer to the airport terminal because they could not manage on their own and they had to pump up a few car tyres.
According to one of the websites – ParkatmyHouse.com – there are 104,000 driveways in Norfolk which are lying “idle”, when they could be bringing in cash.
The bosses of the website say that could potentially generate £6.7m a month or around £81.3m a year, if those driveways were opened up for motorists to rent.
Alex Stephany, chief executive of ParkatmyHouse.com, said: “We welcomed the comments from Eric Pickles, which provide a common sense approach to the issue of parking.
“Drivers should not be at the mercy of vast parking charges and minimal parking spaces. Not only do private lets allow motorists more choice, but they also provide homeowners with much-needed extra income.
“However, the proposals could go even further. The ‘rent-a-room’ relief scheme has been in place for the past 16 years and provides tax-free income for those are letting out a furnished room within their home.
“We’d love to see this tax-free rental income relief extended to those who are letting out their driveways in Norfolk and across the UK.
“It would be great to see the government encouraging entrepreneurship in our towns, especially when property owners are providing a service to other citizens and their often struggling local high street.”