Underground & Multi-Storey Parking

If you are looking to improve the layout of your underground/multi-storey car park or are the planning stages of a new build, read our guide below...

Planning and Design

Developed in high-density urban areas where street-level space is at a premium, underground and multi-storey car parks require much planning to maximise their capacity. From efficient circulation to correct structure, as well as many health and safety aspects.

If you are looking to alter the layout to improve throughout, you’ll have to think about the number of vehicles that need to be accommodated compared to the space available. Similarly, a vehicle flow rate must be calculated so that the number of spaces to be provided meets demand at peak times.

Multi-storey car parks generally fall into one of a number of basic layout types:

  • Flat deck
  • Split level
  • Sloping deck (ramped floor)

Vehicle access to parking areas can be via:

  • External ramps
  • Internal ramps
  • End or centre ramps, or a combination
  • Vehicle lifts

Similarly, vehicle circulation can be organised by:

  • Combined or separate entry/exit
  • One-way or two-way traffic

Once these basic parameters have been established, the layout will primarily be dictated by the size and constraints of the vehicles that use it. You’ll need to ensure larger vehicles such as ambulances can enter and exit. If so, turning circles, sweep paths and ramp gradients will need to be calculated.

In terms of security and safety, landowners overhauling a multi-storey car park should consider the following:

Boundaries and perimeters

  • Defensible boundaries – multi-storey car parks can use perimeter walls and structures, but barriers need consideration.
  • Anti-climb measures may also be needed for high suicide risk locations such as hospitals.


  • Lighting should be even to eliminate shadows.
  • White (or light-coloured) walls, floors and ceilings can reduce the quantity of lighting needed.
  • Anti-vandal cabling.
  • Positioning of lighting columns to deter climbing.

Parking Areas or Decks

  • An access control system
  • Rough surfaces on ramps to deter skateboarding.
  • One-way circulatory traffic, clear direction arrows, speed restrictors.
  • Clearly defined pedestrian routes.
  • Anchor points for motorcycles and bicycles.
  • Position any payment machines in the busiest areas.

Vehicular Access

  • Ideally, the entry and exit should be close together, but separate from one another.
  • Consider height restrictors (but capable of over-ride for emergency or maintenance vehicles).

Pedestrian Access

  • Specify vandal-resistant lifts, and glazed lobby doors.
  • Avoid long passageways.
  • Perforated or transparent balustrades aid visibility.


  • Clear, visible, pictorial, colour-coded, logical and informative.
  • Use internationally-recognised pictograms.
  • Ensure signage is compliant with British Parking Association Guidelines

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.

View our Solutions


Surveillance and CCTV

  • Include passive surveillance features (Secured by Design is a great place to start for principles and ideas). Minimise obstructions e.g. columns, for natural surveillance.
  • Comply with the CCTV Code of Practice, and register with the Information Commissioner, if filming or recording public areas.
  • Comply with the Data Protection Act 1998.
        • Common problems and solutions

Especially important if your car park is located in a flood risk area, sustainable drainage systems and pollutant filters should be designed into parking areas to minimise water quality and flood issues.

Surface materials are an important consideration. Tamped, textured surfaces have a higher risk of holding water and debris. This makes the surfaces difficult to clean and could lead to water pooling, which may end up leaking into the concrete.

Smooth surfaces are easier to clean and tend to look better, but can be slippery for pedestrians when wet or contaminated with oil. Usually, a lightly textured surface offers a good compromise.

In multi-storey car parks especially, fire safety risks must be assessed. Fire/smoke detectors, sprinklers and extraction systems to minimise smoke dispersal will need installing. CCTV can also be used to early detection of fire too.

Similarly, sites of this size may run into problems with misuse and abuse. It’s not uncommon for motorists to park at the site of a shopping centre, only to venture elsewhere. This leaves shoppers looking to legitimately use the facilities without any space to park themselves. As a result, these actual shoppers may be driven away from future visits to your site because of this misuse.

Recommended technology

Alternative payment methods

Online booking and pre-payment are increasingly common in underground and multi-storey car parks. Customers want convenience and assurance with regards to large, multi-level facilities, and the use of mobile app technology to both find spaces and pay for them is a much-appreciated innovation.

Pre-booking and autopay

By booking and paying for a space prior to arrival – users remove the need to hunt around for a ticket kiosk or other payment method. Not only is this convenient and quick – it can be a lot safer, particularly during hours of darkness and if the car park is in a remote location.

ANPR technology

Likewise, when the ground floor level becomes clogged with traffic entering and exiting, it can prove to be a frustrating experience. ANPR can remove the need for entry and exit barriers, and the queues they bring with them. This means a smoother, speedier entry and exit to the site.

Read this article to find out more about ANPR.

Intelligent parking

Amongst other benefits, intelligent parking can use Variable Messaging Signs (VMS) to relay car park capacity to electronic signage in the nearby areas, providing useful information to customers before they even enter the site. It also allows for intelligent bay monitoring, with sensors detecting both empty and occupied parking spaces at any given time.

Dynamic pricing is another intelligent parking innovation that can be used to maximise revenue. As demand rises and falls through the day, or in response to nearby events, the pricing alters to reflect the demand.