The rise in popularity of the car free home



Until pretty recently it would have been a hard task to sell a new homes scheme in Norwich that didn't provide parking - but not any more, says Richard Aldous of Savills.

Richard Aldous, head of new homes at Savills. Picture:

Richard Aldous, head of new homes at Savills. Picture:

Some four or five years ago, we were marketing a development of 14 apartments which only had room for nine cars. It probably won't surprise you to hear that the first nine buyers were all prepared to pay the £20,000 premium to secure a space.

But it seems times are changing. My colleagues in Scotland, for example, have seen a run of sales at a development in Glasgow's West End where, after only a week on the market, more than 50 per cent of the apartments were sold. A good result by any standards but what makes this interesting is that the development is car-free. It would be easy to attribute the success to high quality design and build and a sought-after location.

However, what is striking is that the otherwise diverse mix of buyers have one key thing in common: an energetic, proactive lifestyle which does not depend on the car.

Global concerns about climate change, and government measures to create cleaner, greener urban environments, are leading more UK policy makers, planners and developers to collaborate on successful car-free schemes.

And it's not only about pollution, the exclusion of parking spaces allows a higher number of dwellings to be built and so helps achieve targets for essential We have yet to see this trend really take off in Norwich but I think we are witnessing the first signs that we could be heading in that direction.

We are currently selling one bedroom apartments in the city centre, for example, that do not come with parking while the larger apartments in the development do. Interestingly, the first two units to be sold were ones without a space.

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Of course that's just one small example, but if you consider the bigger picture – improving cycle routes, the growth of car clubs, and what can be the costly and often difficult task of making room for parking in new city centre developments – it may be a taste of things to come.

We may have been slower than some other European countries to embrace car-free living in the UK, but as development space here becomes scarcer, the benefits of reduced pollution become more apparent and the vogue for healthier living gathers momentum, I believe we will eventually, inevitably, see more car-free developments being launched to the market.

For more information about the Norfolk new homes market contact Richard Aldous at Savills Norwich 01603 229 222, Savills New Homes has sponsored this column.