More than half of the garages owned by Northampton Borough Council are empty for reasons including size, access... and a surplus of on-street parking.
In total there are 2,772 garages owned by the borough with an annual rental income of £650,000, but only 1,349 are in use.
The report, written by the council’s head of housing, suggests that consideration needs to be given to Northampton’s need for affordable housing, and some of the 187 sites in the borough, may offer to meet these targets.
In an assertion that will surprise many living in crowded, double-parked streets, the report says, half the garages are empty not only due to lack of advertising of their availability and concerns about their condition but also “due to low demand for parking.”
Many of the council garages are classed as in a poor state of repair, difficult to access, with on-going concerns about theft or anti-social behaviour, which will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on July 19.
The purpose of the meeting is to ask cabinet to approve a Council Garage Sites Strategy that will ensure optimum use is made of the sites and a Council Garages Policy to improve management of them
Although there has been a number of garage reviews in recent years, they have been site-specific and not involved a systematic review of every site, says Phil Harris, head of housing and wellbeing.
His report says that, in the past applicants, some Northampton Partnership Homes staff and councillors have been unclear what the garages can be used for.
In future, the preferred option is for cabinet to approve a borough-wide council garage site strategy which allows Northampton Partnership Homes, who oversees the garages for the local authority, to review the garage sites and make recommendations to the council about future use.
Options include demolishing the garages and retaining the site as level car parking, retaining the garages and bringing them up to a lettable standard or demolishing them and building new ones.