Most car parks are situated above the ground on the basis that it is often cheaper and easier to tarmac an area of land and devote it to parking than it would be to dig down. Of course, this is the sort of thing you will see in municipal car parks all over the country and, in many ways, it is the parking solution that we are most used to. Even when space is at a premium, many developers tend to go upwards with their chosen construction methods and build multi-storey car parks. However, both open air car parking facilities and multi-level ones have certain disadvantages when they are directly compared to an underground car park. Read on to discover why many modern development designs favour subterranean parking facilities nowadays and the numerous advantages they afford.
To begin with, when you build your car park underneath ground level, you can make use of the land that you have not devoted to parking for some other purpose. Any land that is in use above ground level simply cannot be used for any other use. This is just as true for multi-storey car parks as it is for open air ones, of course. So, whether you are talking about providing a pedestrianised urban plaza, an open green space or making room for more commercial development, going underground is one of the best things to do.
The only other viable alternative, of course, is to provide no parking facilities whatsoever. However, in projects that involve urban regeneration or even simple housing developments, no parking at all can severely limit the attractiveness of the end product, impacting negatively on the developer’s bottom line. Bear in mind that space devoted to parking is not wasted. It is just that parking facilities are one of those things you can design to be located under ground level. Why, then, would you put it anywhere else?
Cost Competitive in Urban Areas
Of course, there is a cost associated with building car parks underground. You need to shift out a great deal of earth to make them in the first place. In addition, substantial structural supports will need to be put in place if you are going down more than a a couple of metres. In some rural locations, this will make underground car parking facilities uneconomical. The reverse is often the case in urban settings, however.
This is because the value of the land above ground can be so high that using it for car parking would not make financial sense. In the middle of most towns and cities, it is more financially rewarding to devote the space where people will actually be to restaurants, bar, gyms, shops and offices. All of these parts of a development will, of course, generate substantial income yields for their owners. That is not to say that car parks do not earn their keep – far from it! However, as land becomes more expensive, especially in inner city areas, so underground car parking facilities become more and more viable. This is the case, even factoring in the additional costs associated with constructing them.
Greater Access Control
Another key advantage of a modern underground car park is that it will afford a great deal of access control. Unlike a municipal car park that anyone can wander through at any time of the day or night, for example, an underground one will be inaccessible to anyone who does not enter it through the correct access point. This is just as true for motorists who wish to park in such a facility as it is for pedestrians. In other words, underground car parks will feel safer, generally be better lit than outdoor ones and prevent unwarranted access simple because they are, by definition, self-contained spaces.
Underground car parks don’t just feel safer, they are safer. With modern license plate recognition technology and access control ramps and barriers, only people who have paid to park or who have registered and pre-approved to do so will be able to enter the facility. Knowing which number plates have gone through creates accountability for drivers but it also means that attempted car thefts will be much less likely to occur.
It is not just burglaries that are less likely in underground car parks, however. Anti-social crime and sheer vandalism is almost ruled out in privately managed underground car parks because people who shouldn’t be in them will find it much harder to gain access. Compare that to a typical multi-storey car park in the middle of a town through which just about anyone can move almost unhindered because there is access from all sides.
Suited to Residential and Business Parking
Many residential blocks are now built with the ground floor devoted to parking and residential flats designed to sit above them. In numerous cases, residents are given just one parking bay – or even none at all – because there is limited room in this model. Put simply, one parking bay is not enough for many households nowadays. Instead, building extra car parking capacity underground would mean being able to charge residents more for their ground rent or even to bill them individually according to their changing parking requirements. Modern self-service car parking technology works perfectly well in underground settings as it does above ground, so why lose out on this income stream?
Equally, business developments can attract more companies to them if they have sufficient parking. What many businesses are looking for today is great connectivity to public transport infrastructure in the middle of cities whilst still have enough parking spaces for people to drive in to work. Automated car parking systems can monitor the use of underground car parks and either charge business users for each bay they have at their disposal or invoice every month according to how many hours the car park has been used cumulatively. In short, underground parking is flexible, safe, secure and a cost-effective option in most towns and cities in the UK.