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Preventative Measures
Published:  19 January, 2016

With many shopping centre car parks approaching or past their fortieth birthdays, proactive maintenance should become a priority but many are neglected.

The Institute of Civil Engineers brought out a document on Life Care Plans in 2002 which set out good practice in the maintenance of car parks, but according to Graeme Middleton, business development manager at Makers, shopping centres have been slower than local authorities when it comes to implementing them.

“There are plenty of very conscious, switched-on landlords, managers and operators who really see the value of maintaining an attractive car park and are proactive in refurbishing the asset,” Middleton says. “The problem for some is that they don’t know what a Life Care Plan is or how to put one in place – but it doesn’t have to be onerous.”

“Effectively it’s an early warning mechanism,” he explains, “involving adopting a mature approach to inspection and thinking about how maintenance should be addressed in the years to come. It could involve simply walking around the car park once a month documenting any defects, taking advice to understand the seriousness of the problem and prioritising work properly. If it’s done insufficiently, defects can get worse and worse even to the point where there is no choice but to close the car park in order to repair it with obvious commercial implications.”

“A well-maintained car park can’t be underestimated,” he adds. “Good car parks are a magnet for customers.”

Recent projects undertaken by Makers include Elmsleigh shopping centre in Staines and Castle Mall in Norwich.

In Staines, Makers re-waterproofed the Elmsleigh shopping centre car park at a cost of near £300,000. Built in the mid-1970s, the multi-storey car park – which has capacity for 460 cars – required repairs and re-waterproofing of the asphalt surface of the top split-level parking deck where a range of defects were allowing water ingress through the concrete causing leakages into the spaces below.

Makers replaced the deck’s existing failed movement joints and re-applied protective coatings to the reinforced parapet walls to improve the overall parking environment and enhance the customer experience. The drive aisles were laid with a dark grey coating with a contrasting light grey for the parking bays and red pedestrian walkways, while bays designated for disabled visitors were highlighted in blue.

At Castle Mall, the multi-storey car park was transformed by a programme of concrete repairs and re-waterproofing to reinforce all eight decks at a cost of nearly £550,000.

Constructed in 1989, the 710-space carpark underwent a 26-week refurbishment as part of Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) programme, and Makers was appointed to deliver a scheme of works that included the removal of all existing coatings from the concrete parking decks followed by concrete repairs, corrosion management and the re-application of a deck waterproofing system throughout, to be applied in contrasting colours.

“Many car parks are over 40 years old, and there are still an awful lot out there that haven’t been repaired or if they have, badly,” says Middleton. “I anticipate more and more remedial works and site maintenance will be needed in the years to come, and the longer defects are left the more expensive it becomes o fix them.”