Has going in to town become an unavoidable obstacle course of unpredictable traffic, inconvenient parking and disorientating streets? How can the experience match the apparent convenience of out-of-town retail parks or help bring on-line shoppers back in to town?
Getting between the ‘parking lines’
Here we share our experiences in finding simple solutions to town centre parking issues by using evidence and objectivity to get between the ‘battle lines’ that so often divide businesses, customers and parking managers. Our ‘Between the Lines‘ approach to reviewing town centre parking provision was pioneered through the Government’s Future High Street Forum and was designed to build consensus and create common-sense local solutions to a very local issue.
Track customer journeys
A good way to start responding to such perceptions and issues is to better understand the ‘customer journey’. You can download our ‘customer journey check-list‘ free taster to test the ease of getting to and from car parks and identify quick improvements. Better still, team up with a colleague from a neighbouring or other newcomer to get track journeys from a fresh perspective . All the time, keep businesses and car park managers involved and informed by your findings.
Survey business perceptions
Your towns centre’s businesses will doubtless have strong opinions about parking and its important to take account of them as part of wider town centre regeneration. This will involve surveying businesses’ perceptions to benchmark their responses against other issues and with other places. But do not be shocked if half of them tell you that parking is a problem. That’s the typical response we gleaned by surveying 6,000 businesses nation-wide! Also take time to check-out customers’ views and monitor car park usage for pinch points and quiet spots to see if these perceptions are justified. You’ll be surprised what this process reveals including nearly always some simple and short-term improvements.
Create an intuitive experience
Good pedestrian signage is important but sometimes too many signs can be a sign of failure! You need to make exploring your town centre an intuitive experience that involves on-line information, readable maps, welcoming orientation boards, identifiable landmarks and enticing sightlines. The opinions of an objective outsider can be invaluable in improving the experience for visitors.
The town centre parking experience is set to change beyond recognition over the next few years. Be at the forefront of this change and encourage investment in flexible parking technology that can level the parking playing field and boost tow centre regeneration. Already it is possible for technology to direct the motorist to convenient parking, enable automatic and cashless payment, provide useful tips, top-up payments remotely and enable retailers to pay for the stay!
Share success stories
Read a success story about how communities in Essex have got ahead of the game across all these issues by using the ‘Between the Lines‘ approach for assessing and planning for improvements to the quality, quantity, costs and convenience of town centre parking. Or download a copy of our recommended read ‘In-Town-Parking: What Works?‘, which provides examples of innovative practice in parking provision. And, as ever, tell us your town centre regeneration success stories too!
If you’d like a second opinion about parking issues in your town centre, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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