Surface parking refers to parking which is not enclosed or created by a structure and is allocated an area 'at grade' on ground level.
Surface parking can be a cost effective method of providing large volumes of parking compared with parking structures or basement/semi-basement parking; however, it must be carefully designed to avoid the negative visual impact created by rows of parked cars. In certain scenarios (for example a suburban context or in green space) it may be more appropriate to provide at-grade parking as opposed to a multi-level structure which would not be in keeping with the height and profile of the surrounding built environment.
Well-designed surface parking can help to activate spaces, but should be carefully considered and integrated into the overall building and landscape design of the site to avoid a dominance of cars. The use of trees and other planting can significantly improve the visual appearance of surface car parking, as well as provide shading.
It can be difficult to resolve the relationship between surface parking and manoeuvring space to a building and the site, particularly on small or dense sites. Refer to Chapter 4, Layout and Configuration
, for more details.
Surface parking is not suitable in centres or dense urban areas, but is more acceptable in suburban or office park type environments, provided parking areas are well designed.
Surface parking should be provided to the rear of the site to allow buildings to front the street edge and contribute to the streetscape and urban realm.