Stand Number : H22
Q-Park at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton
Creating a car park is much more than simply providing new, better spaces and an improved service. At the new Musgrove Park Hospital car park in Taunton, the NHS Trust was faced with an existing and growing problem of traffic congestion and had advised visitors and outpatients to either use public transport or taxis. The problem was not confined to the hospital; in fact traffic congestion affected surrounding streets including main roads and residential areas. And the powerful local newspapers were reporting high levels of dissatisfaction.
In summary, there were not enough car parking spaces for visitors or staff; a single car park attendant had to handle the operation without support; the quality of the surface and car parking areas was poor and without modern equipment and as with many public bodies finance was tight, particularly for investment into non-core clinical services.
By drawing on internal financial resources, Q-Park took on the contract with the Trust to deliver a new build 736 space MSCP, along with reconfiguring surface car parks, installing site wide signage and delivering a campus wide parking equipment and operations. A contract term of 27 years was provided where the Trust is further paid a guaranteed annual income under PFI Project Agreement terms.
Prior to and during construction Q-Park, in partnership with the Trust, held a series of consultation meetings with local residents and the wider community, representatives of staff working at the hospital and managers, as well as experienced planners and designers. The car park backs onto a residential estate therefore consultation with the associated neighborhood group was required to ensure a sensitive design.
Musgrove Park’s MSCP has been sympathetically designed, not just for the environment and neighborhood, but with patient experience also taking a key priority. The main structure is a steel frame with concrete floors, but use of natural stone gabions and cladding with attractive cedar wood louvres softens the buildings’ impact and allows it to blend into the area. At the rear, where the car park faces residential houses, the car park elevation is graded horizontal louvres not only avoid overlooking the homes, but also avoid headlight glare. Custom-designed car park screens, whether natural or man-made, ensure noise from the car park is minimised, along with inconvenience to local residents.
Critical dimensions and circulation principles ensure that the car park is designed from a customer’s point of view and that it is easy to use. Location of rain water down pipes and gullies ensures that the down pipes are integrated into the structure, do not reduce the clear height of the car park when they run horizontally and do not impinge into parking spaces or driving aisles. This also ensures that the gullies are not located in pedestrian areas. The early integration of services, in particular drainage and electrical containment runs, into the scheme design is essential if one is to obtain a “clean” car park free from a spider-web of pipes and conduits. The lift doors are fully glazed therefore individuals do not feel enclosed within the lift.
Improvements to the surface parking areas were further undertaken which included the reconfiguration of spaces, designating a specific disabled car park close to the hospital entrance and site wide signage including a VMS for the visitors’ car parks.
The new, award-winning Cedars multi-storey car park solved many of the problems, but Q-Park’s key to tackling congestion was to appoint highly visible, uniformed Parking Hosts and communicate their role through the local media. Q-Park also installed electronic vehicle messaging signs to keep motorists aware of space availability and a wide range of bright and colorful directional signs to help drivers navigate their way. Q-Park’s bespoke staff permit system was introduced to manage staff parking arrangements including payments by Direct Debit and a centralised permit-processing system whereby staff can submit applications & renewals on-line. The permit database is also linked to the enforcement process. In this manner all actions and incidents can be logged for or further action under Trust policy.
Q-Park operates under a strict PFI mechanism with service standards. Key reports are provided on a monthly basis supported by quarterly and monthly review meetings. The key to the success to this build project and on-going operation was a strong partnership working environment with the Trust from the outset.
Traffic congestion, frustration and the stress caused by parking have all been alleviated. Not only are staff and visitors able to park in a safe, secure, bright and welcoming new 736 space multi-storey car park as well as the re-surfaced ground parking areas, but a free flow of traffic means that congestion, even at rush hours, has disappeared. Q-Park has also been able to demonstrate to the Trust and local authorities that a well-designed and planned car park will play a major role in satisfying Green Travel Plans. The car park has been awarded the prestigious Park Mark and European safer parking awards as we as winning the British Parking Association’s ‘Best new Car Park’ award.