According to the RAC Foundation, up to seven million gardens have been covered with tarmac to provide driveways.
Apparently around 80% of Britain's 26 million dwellings were built with a front plot. Almost a third of these plots have been turned into hardstanding. This means seven million front gardens now contain concrete and cars rather than flowers and grass, a total area roughly equivalent to 100 Hyde Parks.
Houses built between 1919 and 1964 are most likely to have a front garden and hence it is these properties which are most likely to have seen the change. The move to find extra parking space has resulted from the huge rise in car ownership. In 1950, there were two million cars. In 2011, there were 28.5 million.
The report says that "not only are there more cars than ever before, they are getting bigger. The Ford Escort of 1968 was five feet wide. Today's Ford Focus is six feet wide." We can certainly relate to that – we drove an early Ford Escort recently and were astonished to discover the driver could easily touch the passenger door without even having to lean over.
The report also found that the average car is parked at home for 80% of the time, parked elsewhere for 16% of the time and is only on the move for 4% of the time. Imagine the congestion if that 4% went up to 8%. Local councils would prefer them to stay put though – councils made a profit of £490 million on parking last year, £180 million coming from London alone. As our experience of a parking warden who fabricated evidence shows, not all of that money was entirely legitimate.