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16/01/2017

London’s empty garages could provide 16,000 homes - research

Words: Laura Edgar

The 22,000 empty council-owned garages in London would equate to 16,000 homes if they were converted into one-bed flats, according to new research.

The data, obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all 32 London councils, by property crowd funding platform Property Partner suggests that 24 of them own 53,640 lock-up garages in the capital.

Forty-one per cent of them are either empty on disrepair, it states.

Ealing, Havering, Brent and Enfield have 1,480 (74 per cent), 1,469 (72 per cent), 1,234 (71 per cent) and 2,008 (70 per cent) respectively, of their garages lying empty.

The London Borough of Brent rents out one in 10 of its garages to its own tenants, whereas Lewisham rents out 90 per cent of its garages to council tenants.

According to the research, the total square feet of council-owned garages in London is more than eight million. (Average garage size multiplied by number of garages).

If the garages were to be replaced by flats, the researchers calculated that 16,111 one-bed single-storey apartments could be delivered, 64,400 if the properties were four-storeys in height.

Dan Gandesha, CEO at Property Partner, said: "This is just a snapshot of publicly owned land in London which is clearly surplus to requirement, underused 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.”

Gandesha said with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s commitment to build more affordable homes on empty public land, he hopes Property Partner’s research “will help stir councils into urgent action”.

*Twenty-four councils responded to the FOIs.

Image credit | Shuttershock

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