With the trend towards building luxury apartment blocks showing no sign of slowing down, in future more and more flat owners and renters are likely to be parking their cars in underground car parks.
If you manage a block with one of these on-site, it may not always be uppermost in your mind. Rather than being considered an integral part of the common areas, all too often car parks are simply regarded as a convenient add-on for residents. This attitude may be exacerbated by the fact that car parks often require little in the way of maintenance other than servicing of security equipment and barriers. However, for residents, car parking is a highly emotive issue and is frequently the cause of neighbour disputes.
Car parks should be safe, brightly lit and welcoming; an extension of the block they serve, giving residents a feeling of security as they drive in off the street. But if they are poorly-maintained, the flip side is that they can be dark and scary places.
A recent lighting audit by Future Lighting revealed a textbook example of how to get the worst from your car park lighting.
At Abbey Mills, in Merton, despite the very high specification of the 280 apartments at this historic site on the banks of the River Wandle, the car park lighting was constantly failing and was costing residents a small fortune.
Here’s what the property managers, Gateway had to say about it: “The car park runs underneath the apartments, linking the three blocks. The existing linear fluorescent fittings, though high quality when specified had become outdated. They had no means of control so were left on 24 hours a day and many of them had failed.
“We concluded that despite the initial capital cost, replacement with LEDs could offer savings. We commissioned a lighting audit from LED specialists Future Lighting, who were appointed.”
The car park lighting was replaced by linear LED 24W fittings, which house integral occupancy and light level detectors, while also providing 40% more lumens output. A 4000k white lamp was chosen to improve the overall look and feel of the car park. The new fittings also monitor light levels; any that are situated near the perimeter cage are now held off by the natural light until stronger illumination is needed later in the day.
How to Get the best from your car park
Car parking experts recommend following a few simple guidelines to help blocks get the best from their parking area and ensure a safe environment is maintained. In consultation with residents:
Set speed limits within the car park to keep residents safe
Ensure signage is well positioned and easy to read
Where possible, allocate bays to individual residents and demarcate specific parking areas for visitors to avoid disputes arising
Ensure the area is well-lit
Jamie Willsdon is managing director of Future Lighting