Plans to modernise council garages approved by councillors

Photograph of council-owned garages in TamworthCabinet members on Tamworth Borough Council have approved plans for a wide scale refurbishment or redevelopment of the authority’s 78 garages sites across the town.

The proposals relate to blocks of garages situated on housing estates in many parts of the borough. In total there are 593 individual garages available to be rented out by residents, but these are now in various states of repair and occupancy rates are currently low, at just under 50 per cent.

All sites have been surveyed by external consultants and the results were discussed with councillors in each ward to determine the best future use of all garage blocks.

The proposals and recommendations were considered by councillors at a meeting of the Cabinet on June 17. It was decided the council should progress with plans to rebuild or refurbish garages on 53 of the sites and incorporate open parking in some areas. A further eight sites will be converted completely, from garages to free parking areas for residents.

As part of the project, the council is also hoping to install a number of electric vehicle charging points on some of these sites across the town, if there is support from external operators.

The remaining 17 sites will be subject to a separate review to explore other potential uses, such as commercial parking or housing, but this will ultimately depend on the feasibility of other uses and market demand.

During the first phase of the project, involving the 61 sites to be refurbished by the council, there will be a reduction of around 52 garages from the overall portfolio, with the remaining to be significantly modernised and marketed for wider renting.

Once a timeline for redeveloping sites is finalised, anyone who rents a garage will receive notification of their options – which could be moving to another garage either temporarily or long term, decanting while the work takes place, or ending their lease if they choose to.

It is expected that the programme for the 61 sites to be refurbished or converted to open parking will begin this summer and continue for the next two years.

Detailed appraisals of the additional 17 sites which are being explored for alternative uses will take place over the next 12 months and will be the subject of a separate report next year which will contain more firm proposals for each site. This phase of the project is expected to take a number of years, depending on the potential options available.

Cllr Robert Pritchard, Deputy Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, said: “The garages blocks around Tamworth are in varying states of repair and disrepair and many need investment to ensure they are fit to let for the future. Currently many sites are under-occupied, which in some areas is due to the condition of the garages, and in others it’s simply due to low demand.

“Working with councillors and external surveyors, we’ve had an in-depth look at all the sites, including occupancy rates and condition, and we want to improve this service for residents. As well as creating more modern garages, we’re planning to look at the lettings policy to widen the criteria, and will be promoting them much more.

“In some areas of low occupancy, but where parking is an issue, we’re proposing to replace some garages with free parking areas for residents. We’re also hoping to install electric vehicle charging points on some of these sites across the town, so we can start to prepare for the increase in electric vehicle use.

“We’ll next be talking directly to residents who currently rent a garage and to anyone living near the sites where work is proposed.”

If you missed the meeting, it can be watched back via the ‘TamworthCouncil’ YouTube channel. The Cabinet meeting agenda includes a report on the proposals and a breakdown of the plan for each site.