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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
MPs 'astonished' at empty garages
A car parked outside a house
The RAC Foundation says modern cars may not fit into older garages
A group of MPs have said they are "astonished" the majority of garages attached to homes in the UK were not used to store vehicles overnight.

Transport Select Committee members said using garages could help to ease the shortage of parking spaces on streets.

They quoted figures from the RAC Foundation, which found that while 53 per cent of households had access to a garage, only 24 per cent used them.

They claimed many garages were "not being used for their proper purpose".

The RAC Foundation's executive director Edmund King told the BBC News website that many garages had been turned into places of storage or extra rooms.

There were several other reasons why people were leaving vehicles outside, he said.


"Cars are actually larger than they used to be, they're fatter and wider. It's mainly to do with safety, with side airbags and things like that.

"Quite often, if you've got a 1950s house with a 1950s garage, your car doesn't fit, or it will fit but then you can't get out of the door."

He added that cars now started more easily on cold mornings, so owners did not feel they needed to store them overnight.

A house and its garage
MPs said permit schemes could help to ease on-street parking problems

However, he conceded there were people "who just couldn't be bothered to open the garage door" and left their cars on streets through "laziness".

The committee claimed that garages "would relieve on-street space pressures" in communities.

Members said that while people placed a high value on having a parking space, there was "resistance" to paying anything extra for it.

Resistance to paying

This was despite the fact that access to parking could add eight per cent to the value of a home, it said, again quoting from the RAC Foundation's statistics.

The committee backed the idea of residential permit schemes, stating that these could "help to alleviate a mismatch between supply and demand" when "properly enforced".

It also acknowledged that councils may not be able to meet the demand for spaces, but the use of permits and waiting lists were "important techniques" in the rationing of parking.

It recommended these were "pursued vigorously where there is a mismatch between capacity and demand".

It said it also welcomed the use of "more innovative measures" such as giving priority on parking spaces to drivers taking part in car-sharing schemes.

Here is a selection of your comments:

Many people now use garages as extensions of their homes, as offices or as "male retreats", as the garden shed once used to be. It's a bit hard to get a car in under a desk or between shelves filled with beer and power tools.
Anna Morell, London

How many of these garage owners parking on the street will be paying reduced insurance premiums for claiming the car is in the garage overnight?
Richard Aird, Gateshead

It's a British tradition to lock loads of old junk and a lawnmower in your garage and leave tens of thousands of pounds' worth of car out in the street.
David Levett, Letchworth Garden City

I bought a brand new house in 1999 with two garages. I drive a medium-sized car. I can get the car in the garage but can't open the doors. Doing a "Dukes of Hazzard" in a business suit is a bit stupid so my car is on the roadside and I have to pay extra on my insurance for the privilege. You'd have thought mainstream house builders would have had more thought!
Janet Wilkinson, Preston

Perhaps if housebuilders were to build garages designed to take a modern car instead of the freezer and the kids' bikes, people might start parking in them.
Mark Henderson, Cardiff

The parking on the street I have to go down to get to my close is so congested that I seriously doubt a fire engine could get to my house in an emergency. This is even though every house has a garage and a driver. Whatever happened to the rule of not parking opposite a junction and on a corner. I do not agree with residential parking only, but better use of garages and driveways are essential.
Ann Brown-Leng, Sheffield

It's OK. Most of us, particularly the young, can't afford a house with a garage anyway! What world do the MPs live in?
Matt Warner, London

I blame the households that have multiple cars. My mother-in-law frequently cannot access her own driveway as the neighbours opposite have four cars from their grown-up children who park outside her house.
Sarah Curtis, Oldbury

I live on a street where nearly every house has a garage but people insist on parking on the street - and as the street gets more and more crammed with parked cars, what do people do? They spend around 2,000 to put block paving over their front gardens, destroying the grass verges, exacerbating the parking problem and lowering the value of houses on the entire street. It should either be illegal to keep a car unless you have somewhere off-road to store it, or illegal to park on the road if you have a garage.
Gavin Sanders, Bristol

I cannot fit my car in my garage as I have to use it for storage. If house prices were cheaper, I would have been able to purchase a large enough house and would park in my garage!
James Sandy, Oxford

Recently we have been looking for a house with a decent-sized garage. Most garages on modern houses are scarcely large enough to park even my hatchback in and open the door to get out. A people carrier would be practically impossible. I don't actually have a garage but my car is always parked safely in my own driveway. I would not be willing to park my car on a road.
L Jones, Herefordshire

The obvious answer to parking problems is to have fewer cars. Ten thousand people have now joined car clubs across the country. This gives them access to a car when they need one without the hassle and expense of owning one. As car club vehicles have dedicated marked bays, there is no longer a problem with parking.
Philip Igoe, Leeds

For the privilege of parking on the road, there should be a charge. Those who have parking spaces would soon use them, and those who don't have them should either pay for the facility or not use a car. Why should those people who buy homes with garages or parking, and pay road tax, be subsidising those who park on the road and create congestion?
Alan Walker, Whitby

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