Planning and Design
Often seen as the ‘gateway’ to the rest of the area, city centre car parks have to be designed with care and attention in order to make a positive contribution to the surrounding urban environment. Additionally, they also have to be as secure and safe as possible, while at the same time catering to all customers, including those with disabilities and restricted mobility.
Because of their size, the design and number of access and exit points must deter improper use of car parks and reduce opportunities for criminals to enter and leave at speed. Likewise, hidden areas must be avoided through the correct use of construction, enclosures and lighting.
Due to their city-based location, sites of this type will likely see a lot of activity, so reducing the potential for incidents between pedestrians and vehicles is important, too. Pedestrian pathways should also be provided within the car park, both for the able-bodied and those with restricted mobility. Similarly, the site needs to be designed to maximise the free-flow of the car park for a high throughput of vehicles.
Will your car park be serving an office building, or will it be a public car park next to a shopping centre? The levels of use and their respective busy periods will dictate their design. If it’s an office building, then there will likely be short peak periods twice a day, while a shopping centre’s car park will have a comparatively more constant level of use during opening hours.
Do you have an issue with unauthorised parking?
If so having an appropriate deterrent on site can really help. We have a wide range of customisable solutions to manage car parks from 15 spaces into the thousands. From bespoke solutions and strategies to enforcement, monitoring and reporting, we do it all.
Most common problems and solutions
A large problem for city centre parking is accommodation. Is there simply not enough parking space? As city centres grow, the spaces originally designed to host fewer people will become insufficient. A solution to this would be building upwards, with the site’s conversion to a multi-storey car park being a suitable option for such challenges.
Congestion is another issue that many busy city centres face. Whether it’s heavy traffic during commuter times, or seasonal congestion, it can create major problems if unchecked. Controlling access can help deter vehicles through a number of different practices, including:
- Remove barriers, opting for an ANPR-led solution
- Congestion charges
- Installing paid parking machines
- Monitoring entry and exit points
- Installing bollards – issuing PCNs to unauthorised users
- Creating free-flow environments through pre-book and auto-pay – reduces time spent on site and number of motorists seeking a payment method
Not only can you increase revenue through these, since some drivers will be happy to pay the charges, it also serves to limit the influx of vehicles as some motorists turn to public transport instead.
Safety is also high up the list of a city centre site’s concerns. Areas with more traffic could also see more instances of theft. If your site is unsafe, then patrons will be put off and seek somewhere else to park. A security presence and access control can help reassure customers and act as a sure way of deterring abuse from criminals.
Intelligent parking can be implemented to help city centre car parks increase revenue and improve customer experience. Take, for instance, intelligent bay monitoring. Trying to locate a space in a busy city-based site can be frustrating; deploying sensors can detect both empty and occupied parking spaces, helping to direct those entering the facility to a free space.
Dynamic pricing also allows sites to dictate the cost of a space as it correlates to demand. Fluctuating demand alters the pricing based on said demand, allowing car parks to increase their revenue, for instance, when a nearby event is on and footfall to the site is likely to increase.
Alternative payment methods
Large facilities, whether multi-level or not, need to make the customer experience as convenient as possible. Allowing for a number of different payment methods as opposed to the usual pay and display approach means greater freedom for customers. Online booking and pre-payment can also ensure they’ll have a parking spot before they reach the site.
Traditional entry and exit barriers can result in greater congestion and traffic as vehicles queue to enter/exit. This is when things start to get frustrating for customers. Automated Number Plate Recognition helps to create smoother, quicker entry and exit to the site without the need for restrictive, congestion-causing barriers.
Discover how we’ve helped other car parks in busy locations improve performance and minimise abuse and misuse, here.