Poor air quality and the spectre of climate change are driving a push towards electric vehicles. The Government recently doubled funding for on-street EV charging and is proposing changes to the Building Regulations to make it easier to provide them. The aim is to give every new residential building with a parking space, an EV charging point. The changes would also apply to buildings undergoing a material change of use to create a dwelling.
So far, so good. But if you read the Department of Transport consultation paper, you might spot a gap: it makes no mention of existing residential property and doesn't talk about blocks of flats. Most flat owners won't benefit from extra on-street charging, especially in areas where parking is at a premium which is virtually all our major towns and cities. The consultation does propose that all residential buildings undergoing major renovation with more than 10 car parking spaces should have cables for electric charge points routed to every space. But if you live in an older block, no solutions are offered to the many questions raised by leasehold property. Problems such as how to get around restrictions on development or modifications spelled out in lease covenants, who pays for new charging points and how should costs be allocated among residents, are completely ignored. They appear to have been put on the too difficult pile.
Jamie Willsdon, director of EV charging solutions provider Future Fuel, has raised these issues with the Department of Transport. He hopes the residential block sector will take up the cause for leaseholders and help put pressure on the government. I was hoping the latest publication from the Department of Transport may have some positive content that covered existing multi-dwelling residential blocks. Sadly it doesn't. This is a huge sector and something installers/designers working in the residential block market will need assistance with. I'll be working hard to engage leading players in the block sector to lobby government on this issue on behalf of flat owners, he says.
This is a problem that won't go away. We support Jamie's call to the DoT not to ignore the needs of the millions of flat owners around the country, who should be able to access EV charging points as easily as someone living in a house.
For landlords, adding charging points could also add value and (literally) improve the kerb appeal of their blocks and for residents it would make the prospect of buying a hybrid or electric vehicle far more appealing.
We will be making our voice heard on this and we urge you to contribute to the debate. You can download the consultation here. Don't forget to respond by 7 October.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
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Ian Barber MD BTR Mobilisation & Leasing
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