Thursday, 18 July 2013

"Homes become garages in drive to ease parking"

From The Evening Standard:

Architects in Islington, one of London's most overcrowded boroughs, have come up with a new solution to the chronic lack of parkings spaces — converting 60 disused council flats into high-spec garages.

On the Westbourne Estate in Holloway, the block of flats —- which was the haunt of fly-tippers and drug dealers — has become 20 new parkings spaces, at a £3.3 million cost to Islington council.

There are about 18,000 people who regularly park on the street in Islington, but architects Burrell Foley Fischer had to work with what little space was available. Five of the flats were socially rented at £110 per week, five were privately owned and worth £265,000 and five were shared-ownership.

The surrounding area was also improved for other residents, with new landscaping including trees, grass and flower beds, and improved lighting.

Priority for the garages goes to local residents who are currently forced to use on-street parking and disabled people. Islington wants to build 2,000 "new affordable garages" by 2015. More garage conversions are planned, including in Finsbury Park, where three- and four-bedroom flats will be converted as part of the borough's plan to convert assets — possibly even disused schools — into secure parking.

Maria Christianou, 24, is among the first people to be allocated a lock-up garage on the Holloway site, on Vulcan Way. A full-time carer for her mother, she was forced to look for a parking space on nearby streets for seven years.

"I had to walk for half a mile sometimes and it was so stressful for me," she said. "Having my own secure space for my car is happiness and freedom. The old flats were horrible, now it's lovely."

James Murray, executive member for parking and transport, said: "Islington faces a parking crisis, with government benefit cuts and private sector rent rises making it harder for many residents to afford to run a car here. Building new garages for local people helps families who want to travel safely and comfort and means we can make sure there is more genuine transport choice for disabled people in Islington."