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Should you consider turning your front garden into a parking spot?

Tired of the hassle of finding parking near your house? Or the cost of a parking permit? Turning your front garden into a parking space might be a good option. Here’s what it involves, the pros and cons, and how much it costs.

Words by: Ellie Isaac

Senior Editor

Most of us have thought about creating our own parking space.

It might be when you’re herding the kids down the road for the school run.

Or when you get from a ‘big shop’ and have to haul your bags half a mile. Or when the car needs a clean, and you’d love to get out and do it yourself.

For some, it’s when you’re parting with another few hundred pounds on a parking permit.

If the cost and hassle of on-street parking sounds familiar, turning your garden into a driveway could be a great option.

Plus, estate agents reckon a driveway can add up to 10% to the value of your home.

No matter what your home’s worth, that extra value is definitely worth considering.

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But are you allowed to turn your garden into a parking space?

What’s involved? How do you go about dropping the kerb?

And what will it all cost?

It’s easier than you might think, but it does take a little planning. Here’s how to turn your front garden into your very own parking space.

Are you allowed to turn your garden into a parking space?

In a word, yep – most people can turn their garden into a parking spot.

But you’ll usually need planning permission from your local council. They decide if you’re allowed to drop the kerb, which is a must-have for off-road parking.

And you might need separate permission for the driveway, depending on what materials you want to use.

Once you’ve got the right permissions, it’s just about using a council-approved contractor to drop the kerb.

And then finding your own tradesperson to do the work on your garden.

How much does it cost to create a parking space? 

The biggest consideration is if you can afford to turn your garden into a parking space.

The costs vary depending on where you live and how much work needs to be done.

A typical breakdown of the costs involved is:

  • £0 to £250 non-refundable planning application fee

  • £1,400 to £2,500 for a council-approved contractor to drop the kerb

  • £1,000 to £2,000 for any additional work needed on the pavement, including moving pipes, trees, lampposts and other street furniture

  • £1,500 to £15,000 for the resurfacing works

Bear in mind the resurfacing cost can really vary. It’ll depend on how big your garden is, whether it needs levelling, what materials you use and if trees need to be cut down.

Examples of planning permission costs

We’ve pulled a few examples to show how the cost of dropping the kerb can vary between different councils.

Wandsworth Council, London:

“You must pay for any works done to provide a crossing, plus a £225 fee to cover administrative costs. The fixed cost of a standard ‘domestic’ pavement vehicle access for up to two domestic cars and constructed in grey bricks is £1,667.20.”

Devon County Council:

“The cost varies depending on the contractor you choose, and the specification of crossing required, but will probably be somewhere between £1,500 and £3,000. Our licence costs £260 in total, which covers our safety assessment, construction audit and administration costs.”

Birmingham City Council:

“Applicants are charged a ‘£95 (non-refundable) application fee, which includes inspecting the kerb and producing a quotation. The typical cost of a standard width crossing is approximately £1,400 to £3,500; this includes the admin fee of £273, but not any additional works (such as moving pipes, trees, street furniture, utility boxes etc) which may increase the cost up to £5,000 or more.’

What do you need to do to turn your garden into a parking space?

Let’s go into more detail about what it involves and what you need to think about to create a parking space.

1. Apply for planning permission to drop the kerb

You’ll need to drop the kerb so that you can glide smoothly onto your brand new parking space.

You get this permission from your local council, who will usually send someone to check out your part of the pavement.

They’re basically making sure that dropping the kerb won’t cause any issues.

They’ll check if it's strong enough to be driven over, and if they’ll need to move any pipes, lampposts or manhole covers.

Keep in mind that if you live in a conservation area or on a corner plot, it might be harder to get permission.

Find your local council and head to their planning permission section to apply.

2. Figure out if you need planning permission for the driveway itself

The next step is to figure out if you need planning permission for the parking space.

You won’t need planning permission if you use a material that naturally drains water away.

Permeable materials are also better for the environment, so it’s a win-win.

But if you’re using a material that can’t drain and covering a space of 5 square metres or more, you’ll need planning permission.

This is the official line from the Planning Portal, the UK’s official planning authority:

The best thing to do at this stage is reach out to a local tradesperson. They’ll be able to look at your front garden, give you advice on the best materials to use, and give you a quote for the job.

You can then decide if the total cost is going to fit into your budget.

BuyWithConfidence is a good place to find a local tradesperson. All businesses have been vetted and approved by the government’s Trading Standards.

CheckATrade and TrustATrader are more popular options to find local businesses.

If you’re still not sure if you need planning permission, you can usually email or phone the planning department at your local council for advice.

3. Choose a council-approved contractor to drop the kerb

When the council gives you the go ahead to drop the kerb (and alter the pavement if needed), they’ll give you a list of approved contractors.

This just makes sure they’ll get the job done properly, in line with the council’s highway regulations.

You’ll be the one paying for the work so contact a few of the approved contractors for quotes.

4. Find a tradesperson to do the work on your garden

If you already got quotes from local tradespeople, you might already have chosen one. 

But if not, get in touch with some builders and explain what you want to do with your garden.

They should be able to give you advice on materials and the amount of work involved. 

And they’ll let you know if you need new foundations to support the weight of a car.

Get different quotes so you can see what works with your budget and get the best deal possible.

If you want to save money, ask about using hardcore and gravel to surface your driveway. It's cheaper than paving over your garden.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) recommends using permeable materials, which you don't need planning permission for.

"Paving, tarmac and concrete are less porous (than a garden) and increase the amount of rainwater that runs off by as much as 50%.”

“This additional water usually flows into street drains, which can’t always cope. The excess can then go back up people’s front drives to flood their homes."

What are the upsides of turning your garden into a parking space?

The convenience is a major plus point of creating a parking space. You’ll never need to hunt for a space or worry about where you’re leaving your car for the night.

Another huge positive is the value it can add to your home when you come to sell.

A parking space is one of those ‘make or break’ things, where potential buyers might walk away if a house doesn’t have parking.

Estate agents reckon a parking space can put an extra 10% onto your sale price. And this could be more if you live in an urban area, a parking permit area, or there aren’t many homes with driveways near you.

As well as that, parking your car on a private driveway can knock money off your car insurance.

If you’re paying for a parking permit, you could make your money back in a few years.

And your home will feel way more private, as people won’t be allowed to park right outside anymore.

What are the downsides of turning a front garden into a parking space?

The cost can put some people off turning their garden into a parking spot.

It doesn’t come cheap, so you’ll need to weigh up if it’s worth it for you.

For nature lovers, a driveway may be less appealing than a garden. You might be removing a garden that’s been home to birds, bees, butterflies and all manner of insects.

Although it’s convenient to park on your property, you may prefer to see a colourful and life-filled garden as you get home.

But a driveway and nature-friendly front garden can work together. With a bit of creativity, you can have shrubs and flowers out front, as well as a place to park.

Is it worth the cost?

Only you can decide if a guaranteed parking spot is worth the cost.

Based on our estimations, it’s going to cost at least a few thousand pounds.

But it can make your day-to-day life a whole lot easier, save you money on permits and add thousands to your home’s value.

We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.