Commuters have been paying as much as £12.50 a day to leave their motors off-road while they head to work, go shopping or watch football. Drivers are booking spaces online as the idea, which started in traffic-choked London, takes hold in Lancashire.
Ismail Timol, whose drive is within walking distance of the railway station and County Hall, said: “I think it’s a good idea – why not do it?”
And Rohit Jiwa is just back from a birthday treat in Mexico, paid for by commuters parking their cars on his drive.
The 50-year-old is one of dozens in Preston who hire out space in front of their homes to make extra cash.
Rohit admits he has netted more than £2,000 from taking in cars during the day - thought to be the city’s top earner in the online parking scheme.
“I’ve had hundreds of people use my drive and it’s all very low maintenance,” said the motorway traffic officer.
“They book and pay online and all I have to do is give a little customer service when they arrive, which I think is an important part of it.
“I’ve just been to Mexico for my birthday using some of the money, so it really is a great bit of extra cash.”
Preston’s parking problems, coupled with peak time traffic jams, have meant more and more drivers are looking for a cheaper and more convenient way to get to work, shopping, or to watch the city’s Championship football team.
But the scheme, run by London company JustPark, is also picking up clients in other towns, with residents in Lostock Hall, Leyland and Chorley also hiring out their driveways to grateful motorists.
Some are charging as much as £12.50 a day to store cars. The majority are asking up to £5, although it can cost as little as £1.90 to park all day.
Ismail Timol, who rents out his drive off Maple Crescent, near to County Hall, charges £3.50 and has earned around £800 so far.
“I think it’s a good idea - why not do it?” he said.
JustPark, which keeps 20 per cent of the fee, says the number of local parking space hosts has nearly doubled in the past year with more than 80 spaces currently listed in Preston, almost double the number available this time last year.
The most popular sites are near the town’s railway station, Avenham, Deepdale Retail Park, Preston North End and residential spots near to motorway junctions. Bookings across the whole city area have risen by 60 per cent in 12 months.
Top earner Rohit Jiwa says it has helped solve a problem for both residents and commuters, as well as earning him some extra cash.
“It all started when I formed the West Cliff Residents Group and some of the neighbours were having trouble with people parking across their drives,” he said.
“They were parking there and getting fines while they got on a train and went away for a few days. So I found JustPark and myself and a few other residents joined up.”
Rohit claims he has the most used drive in Preston and admits it’s been a win-win ever since he started.
“It got some of the bad parkers out of the way and helped us earn some money. I’ve never had any problems from anyone using it either.
“I’d recommend everyone does it, the only thing is, its all about location, location, location because you’ve got to be near somewhere people need to get to. That’s why it works well for us with the train station being so close as well as the shopping centre.
For IT professional Ismail it was a reference on a TV programme which got him thinking it was time to make use of his drive.
He said: “It was one of those programmes where you get tips and save money and things and it came up there.
“I’ve tried to make it affordable for everybody. I’m happy to give a service more than anything. It’s quite convenient for people. It’s on the cusp of the town centre, near Lancashire County Council and the train station.” An added incentive to hire out a drive or garage is that it will be tax efficient income generation from April next year. Homeowners will pay no tax on earnings of up to £1,000 a year made through the scheme as part of the new ‘sharing economy’ tax breaks for property-related income announced in Chancellor George Osborne’s recent budget.
JustPark founder Anthony Eskinazi said: “It’s really encouraging to see the government supporting micro-entrepreneurs with this new legislation. These families and individuals are resourceful enough to be making a bit of extra money from their property, and are offering an important service at the same time - in this case, cheap parking for drivers in Preston.
“By unlocking these driveway spaces that are otherwise underused - and allowing people to reserve their parking in advance, usually at a much reduced rate - JustPark is saving drivers time and money, and putting that back into the pockets of Preston residents.”
The company claims parking this way is 70 per cent cheaper than using conventional commercial car parks, with no need to feed a pay machine.
It says community and other organisations could sign up for the shared space scheme too - with parking spaces at churches, charities and even small businesses and schools put to money making use.
If customers overstay they have to pay for extra time. Just Park has 150,000 JustPark spaces listed on its app and more than 700,000 users and the company’s proud boast is it is “taking the pain out of parking.”
Satisfied Preston customers have delivered their own verdicts with one enthusiastically declaring their parking spot as: “Ideal for Preston Railway station, just 5 mins walk, better value than parking in railway multistorey.
Left car in very early hours and collected at night. No problem whatsoever. Owner friendly and helpful. Plenty of room on driveway for more than one car, no awkward or narrow entry. Highly recommended. ”
Another noted: “Great place to park - easy to find, safe and secure on private driveway, close walk to the station and much better value than conventional long stay car park - what more could you ask?”
But it doesn’t always run smoothly, as one disgruntled client noted when turning up to park in their pre-booked space on St Gregory’s Road found its entrance blocked.