Planning and Design
Multiple user-type sites – car parks that are used by visitors, suppliers and staff, such as hospitals and education centres – are interesting cases because generally, the car park is not part of their core business.
That said, they still require a high standard of service and management that’s in line with demand, environmental needs and the safety for all who use their facilities. Hospitals, in particular, are areas of high stress at the best of times. Poor planning is only going to compound matters for visitors and staff alike, especially during visiting periods when space quickly fills up.
The British Parking Association’s charter for hospital parking notes that NHS Trusts and their car parking contractors should seek to provide good lighting, high standards of maintenance for structures and surfaces, user-friendly payment systems, and clear signage and parking bays.
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While the same could be said for all types of car parks, what should also be considered is that design should not penalise those who have arrived in emergency situations. Blue light routes must also be taken into account – ensuring that emergency service vehicles have full and efficient access. That means that policies should cater to the needs of patients and visitors in a manner that’s separate from those of staff, where different circumstances may apply.
However, it is vital that all authorised users are fairly accommodated, and have access to the services they require. This demands an understanding of the different user types, and identifying the different payment and permit management process which best suit their requirements.
Most common problems and solutions
Again, focusing on hospitals – though this could also be broadly applied to other multiple user-type sites – their unpredictable and busy nature can lead to inappropriate parking. In fact, one of our clients, City Hospitals Sunderland, operated a ‘park anywhere’ approach. Predictably, it resulted in bedlam, leading to severe congestions, restricted access and missed appointments. Technology that streamlines the throughflow has been hugely beneficial here.
St Helens College, another multiple user-type site we work with also had a ‘park anywhere’ culture. This resulted in dangerously parked vehicles, an increased risk to health and safety and some negative sentiment for the education provider.
In sites where a barrier is being used or congestion is rife, ANPR can be especially beneficial. Through working with existing clients, we’ve provided a range of sites with a cost-effective solution that’s resulted in free-flowing traffic, better space availability and increased throughput.
Virtual permit systems can also be used to whitelist holders from being issued with Parking Charge Notices, an avoidable problem to ensure authorised users aren’t issued with unnecessary fines. A logical extension in the case of University Hospital Llandough was to designate staff- and patient-only areas, helping to clear up any confusion and congestion in the process.
For more information on the challenges facing multiple user-type sites and how ParkingEye can help, please read the following case study on our work with the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, here.