The roll-out of electric vehicle charging points (EVCPs) across the UK is gathering pace. It has been estimated by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders that 700 EVCPs need to be installed each day if the UK hopes to have the 2.3m EVCPs it is predicted to need by 2030. Focus will fall on the UK's main cities, particularly its capital. With short journeys, the congestion charge, a drive to cut pollution and the wealth to support the purchase of the still comparatively expensive electric vehicles, London is ideally suited to growing the UK's expanding EVCPs infrastructure.
To benefit from that expansion, the city is going to need to adapt quickly. London's road users will no longer be competing merely for a car parking space – they will be competing for that all important EVCP.
So where are all these EVCPs going to go?
An ideal location for the installation of EVCPs is somewhere with ample parking space, where large numbers of cars are routinely parked and left for sufficient time to allow their batteries to be charged. At the same time, the location of these EVCPs must not be too inconvenient to users. In many parts of the country, industrial estates and retails parks are ideal candidates. The same, however, cannot be said for central London.
The prime candidates for EVCPs in London will be either dedicated multi-storey car parks or the multi-tenanted office building with accompanying basement car park. The owners of such office buildings will have several issues to think about. They are normally responsible for looking after the common areas in these buildings (such as the car park), the costs of which can then be passed to the tenants under their leases. If a landlord wants to start installing EVCPs (which may soon become an expectation rather than an exception) it will first have to ensure that it has all the necessary property rights (including development rights) to do this. That may need the cooperation of neighbouring landowners as well as other tenants, all of which may come at a cost. Title deeds will also need to be carefully checked.
Landlords will also want to carefully consider which costs can be passed on to their tenants. While subsidies may go some way to addressing the initial installation costs, it is unlikely these costs will be recouped in their entirety. It will always depend on the terms of the relevant leases, although in many cases landlords are likely going to struggle to pass these initial costs to their tenants. Some landlords may consider this to be a wise investment to make regardless.
Once EVCPs are installed, their maintenance and servicing will need to be considered, as will the (surely inevitable) upgrades that will be required as the technology develops. Landlords will again be looking to pass these costs to tenants. Which costs, if any, can be passed on will again depend on the terms of the leases that the landlord has in place. It should not be assumed that in every case landlords will recover their costs from their tenants.
Access to, or the right to use, EVCPs will perhaps be the most controversial aspect as the number of electric vehicles rises. Landlords in multi-let office buildings will often agree to provide a certain number of parking spaces for individual tenants (usually in a specific area). If one tenant is perceived to obtain greater benefit from a bank of EVCPs, the scope for disputes is readily apparent. This becomes a minor issue though, when considering the question of public access. While ensuring that there are sufficient EVCPs available to encourage and support those who have made the switch to electric vehicles, a balance will have to be struck to ensure that those incurring the cost of installing, maintaining, and purchasing the necessary electricity (be that landlord or tenant) do not unfairly subsidise what in effect becomes a public service. Landlords may look to recoup some of their costs from a paying public, which may only further complicate the tenants' liabilities.
Finally, mention should be made of the relatively common situation in which a homeowner who has a parking space available in a convenient location, 'rents' this space to someone else. With more homes being configured to support electric vehicles, there is no reason why similar arrangements will not be entered into in the context of an EVCP. Homeowners should be aware, however, that planning laws, insurers, mortgage companies and the taxman may have something else to say about such arrangements.
There are opportunities aplenty for an electric car future, although there may be a few bumps in the road still to come. A path to an abundance of EVCPs can be seen but, in the absence of legislative intervention, there is scope for dispute and disappointment. With some careful thought and consideration, however, landlords and landowners could play an important role in achieving the target of 2.3m EVCPs by 2030.
This article first appeared in the January – March 2022 issue of Planning in London (www.planninginlondon.com)