Extending the life of a town centre car park

Michael Wood, divisional manager at Cemplas, gives an overview of the recent part-refurbishment of Townfield Multi-Storey Car Park in Chelmsford

Townfield Street MSCP is a popular car park operated by the local authority. The site was constructed and opened in April 1988, located in the heart of the town it provides easy access the high street shops, local shopping centres and Chelmsford railway station, housing a total capacity of 734 vehicles including 5 disabled spaces.

There are two shopping centres near the car park; Riverside Retail Park (0.6 miles or 12 min walk) and High Chelmer Shopping Centre (0.4 miles or 8 min walk). The usage of the MSCP is often 100% capacity on weekdays and full before 9.00am meaning the car park is highly trafficked on a regular basis.

Due to its popularity, the local authority decided to take a proactive approach to the long term protection of the car park, and so as part of formal Tender process in 2021, Cemplas Waterproofing & Concrete Repairs Ltd were selected as the specialist principal contractor.

“Maintaining the concrete and protecting the steel reinforcement extends the life of the structure,” tells Michael Wood, divisional manager at Cemplas, “A proactive approach to maintenance can mean a better parking environment for patrons and reduce repair costs later on.” He explains that at the Chelmsford car park the exposed top decks of car parks are subject to weathering year-round, meaning the existing surface coating system on roof Levels six and seven had come to the end of its serviceable life and needed to be replaced.

“Structural repairs and deck re-waterproofing are commonplace within the upgrading of most reinforced concrete car parks but few of them come with as many red tags and warnings to proceed with caution as that of a lift-slab structure,” says Wood.

Given the structure type and consideration of maximum permissible weight loadings at the site, specialist preparation plant and machinery was used to remove nearly 6000-sq m of the existing top deck waterproofing. With the car park having to remain in constant use during working hours, there was an increase of contractor traffic continuously throughout the car park which had to remain in use at all times during the refurbishment to protect both users and workforce alike.

Due to the local authority having flagged the requirement to replace the deck coating in time, only minimal repair was required to the concrete substrates. In addition to other works, the top deck was fully re-waterproofed using Sikalastic OneShot Parkdeck system. “To this day, the project is the largest UK application of this unique, highly crack bridging and extremely fact curing car park deck system using polyurea technology,” Wood tells.

Despite the challenge, the close vicinity of retail and residential, controls measures were in place to contain noise levels and reducing nuisance nearby neighbours and the project was delivered in good time, and the 250 parking spaces on the top deck were back in use, ready for the busy Christmas shopping period.

This was first published in Retail Destination Fortnightly. Click here to subscribe.

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