Thousands of new homes could be created in London if councils made use of garages that are sitting idle, according to Property Partner .
It found local authorities were sitting on more than 22,000 vacant lock-ups. The property crowdfunding platform believes the space could be converted into 16,000 one-bedroom flats.
It’s research included responses from 24 of London’s 32 boroughs and showed they owned a total of 53,640 garages between them, with 41% empty or in disrepair.
Greenwich had one of the highest proportion of its units empty (57%) – space for 1,396 flats to be built.
It was beaten by Ealing, which topped the list, Havering, Brent and Enfield, which all had 70% or more garages sitting empty.
Newham fared slightly better with a 42% vacancy rate, enough space for 791 flats and Hackney came in at 41%, space for 1,165 flats.
The research, done through Freedom of Information requests also showed on average only 45% of garages that are rented out are let to council tenants.
CEO of Property Partner Dan Gandesha said: “This is just a snapshot of publicly owned land in London that is clearly surplus to requirements, under-used or undeveloped.
“When we have a crisis in affordable housing not just in the capital but in the UK, it begs the question whether councils in Britain should either sell off the land for development or build new homes themselves.
“If a significant number of council garages, which are part of housing estates, are not even rented to those who should have a right to them – local authority tenants – then it could be argued that this is a wasted opportunity.”
According to the London Assembly, the capital needs between 49,000 and 80,000 homes per year to cope with the projected population growth of a million in the next 10 years.
Researchers at Property Partner calculated that if councils utilised land containing empty garages for single level developments they could create at least 16,111 one-bed flats, assuming they were the average UK size of 499.4sq ft.
That number could increase at least fourfold to more than 64,400 new properties if four-storey apartment blocks were built in viable locations.
Dan said: “Although, making better use of council garages is not the absolute solution, it could seriously help alleviate the capital’s affordable housing crisis.
“Hopefully our research about garages will help in some way to stir councils into urgent action.”
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