Town Centre Regeneration 

Many towns and cities have set out ambitious and exciting visions to reform the shape and appeal of their central area. These plans include redeveloping land to improve the retail offer and create new food, beverage and leisure attractions to improve the night-time economy.

We have assisted a number of local authorities plan out the re-purposing of their current car parks to facilitate new developments. Part of this process may include defining what parking will be required at five yearly intervals over the next twenty years.

The redevelopment itself will also lead to greater parking demand on the town centre. New attractions and an extended offer will also change the type of parking demand required across the day.  Many towns are seeing a major shift in how people spend time in town and shopping centres are turning over far more floorspace to food and beverage and facilities that provide leisure services. This will impact on dwell times, types of visitor, expectations and peak hours of usage.

On this basis the type of parking and its specific location in relation to key attractors within a town or city are key aspects of a strategy as it moves through the forecast developmental timeline. Additional considerations may rely on a wider assessment of parking demand driven by office, leisure and population growth expectations, underlying car usage trends and changes to design standards.

Touchwood Centre, Solihull after 8 pm on a Friday evening. Nearly all 770 parking bays are occupied.
Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth. Clear attractive signing and high quality parking finish.
Clear signing, well lit, secure and clean pathway to the modern shopping above. Gunwharf Quays.
Eastgate Centre Basildon converted 3 parking bays to provide 2 wider bays for shoppers in response to demands for easier parking.

Case Study:

Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Parking Strategy

Vaughan is a suburb of the Greater Toronto area. The ambition for Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is to create a human-scale, highly liveable, attractive, clean, vibrant and successful urban area. The intensification of the area will be supported and driven by an extension of Toronto’s subway and bus rapid transit. Residents will have access to a high range and quality of goods and services within walking distance of their homes. Employment, like many highly successful urban areas around the world, will draw in and support the wider Greater Toronto economic area.

However a principal barrier to arriving at this “human-scale” goal is the need to make the centre denser. To move from the current needs and expectations of public and business alike that buildings are accessed by car and lifestyles and living choices are such that there is little alternative to this model. Should the city transition too quickly, and parking provision is seen to be too restrictive, developers may hold off based on tenants’ access to labour concerns; residents with established car-use patterns will shun residences without parking. The growth and ambition will falter. Assessment of the demands for parking over time provided quantification and evidence to set out a parking needs roadmap. This roadmap is specified to provide adequate parking to support continued investment in the city whilst laying the foundations for the fundamental changes required to travel behaviour, mode choice and land use. Moreover the roadmap allows expectations and requirements for the city’s inhabitants, businesses and visitors to develop and transition as the city reforms towards its vision.

The City of Vaughan must lead, but must do so at a pace, and in a strategic way that takes developers and residents with it. Therefore plans were developed that addressed the “now” while understanding and having a clear vision of not only of the “then”, but also “when”.

Time Horizons

Consulting advice has been structured around time horizons. By December 2017 the new subway station at Vaughan Metropolitan City (VMC) will open and a key element of work was to quantify forecast car-commuter demand. This has supported structured policies and actions to establish the desired safeguards so that this demand could be accommodated in a productive way in the short term but would not compromise their downtown ambitions in the longer term.

Parking demand forecasts based on city build have also been provided for a near-term (2022), medium term (2031) and long term (2051) time horizon.

Recommendations on Legislation to deliver Shared Parking

The commission has included workshops with major stakeholders including land owners, tenants and developers within the city. An imperative of the approach is to determine recommendations that work for developers and those investing within the area in a way consistent with the longer term vision.

Modelling of land use for each parcel, block and neighbourhood has allowed demonstration of the balance of parking provision to supply and additionally experiment with different levels of parking standard and adoption by developers of payment-in-lieu (PIL) options. The key conflict is that if the PIL is set too high, it renders development in the city too expensive or developers elect to provide all parking on-site. This either means development is thwarted or the type of development is inconsistent with the longer-term downtown high density vision. Where the PIL is set low, adoption by developers will be high but funding for the city to provide parking off-site may be insufficient.