Mercedes Benz goes top in Hertford
Mercedes Benz’ number one dealer has gone right to the top in Hertford with a TopDeck car storage system. The 70 space deck has more than doubled the parking space available at the rear of the site and has been custom designed to fit into the area behind the car washing bay, an old storage shed and next to a secure compound. As there will be no access for the general public, the ramps were made steeper and used for both car and pedestrian access. Emergency pedestrian escape is provided by a fixed ladder to save space.
The Mercedes Benz franchise in Hertford has been held by L & L Automotive since 2002 and they operate three sites in the county - in Hertford, Bishops Stortford and a 2008 new build in Stevenage. As the most improved dealer they won Dealer of the Year in 2009. But success can bring its own problems. Sales from Bishop Stortford have doubled since they acquired the business and the Hertford site was bursting at the seams with new and used car stocks. The extra service business this success was generating was just exacerbating the space problem.
Like many dealers they were forced to resort to off-site storage and, over a period of time, rented three separate car storage compounds dotted around the town. While this did at least provide additional space, such arrangements are rarely ideal. Cars are often in the wrong place at the wrong time and it always takes at least two people to be available to go and collect one car. The round trips mount up to a considerable loss of man hours. Furthermore, service customers are a good target for new and used car sales yet perversely, the busier the service department the fewer the new and used cars will be on display as they will have been moved off site to create space for the service business.
Dealer Principal Andrew Gallacher and Property Consultant Paul Key were aware of the concept of modular steel parking decks and realised they could solve their space problem without the lengthy disruption to their business that a traditional build would bring. They approached 2 companies including TopDeck Parking and invited proposals. In deciding on TopDeck they took into account the price and the design flexibility that TopDeck proposed that maximised the number of additional spaces gained. The other key factor was a build programme numbered in weeks not months.
Standard modules for car storage decks are 16 metres long x 2.4 metres wide with a supporting column at each corner. Unfortunately the area available at Hertford to stand these modules was only 15 metres wide and turning the modules through 90 degrees would severely limit the flexibility of the deck layout and the overall capacity. The only practical options were to dig out the extra metre needed and dispose of the soil and hard core or adapt the modules to fit the terrain. This would be both time consuming and expensive.
TopDeck adapted standard units so that the supporting columns at one end were set back 1.2 metres and the rest of the deck cantilevered over the columns and above the restricting landscaping. Short stub columns were fitted at the extreme end of the upper deck to support the integral BS 6399 safety barriers.
Six angled units were needed to take maximum advantage of the space available and create the maximum additional storage by following the angled boundary at one end of the site. A total of 70 extra traditional parking spaces were created although even more cars could be stored if ‘block’ parked.
The construction was programmed to last just two weeks and the normal traffic flow around the site would be closed for just one day. This avoided turning a thriving business into a long term building site with all the loss of business that would entail.
All the TopDeck modules were pre-assembled and pre-coated at the manufacturing facility in Newport, South Wales and delivered to site in a ‘flat pack’ state where they were off-loaded into position and each module connected to the previously installed ones. The bespoke, angled units were also manufactured and test assembled in Newport and then dismantled for re-assembly on site.
Because the deck was to stand over good quality existing tarmac no foundations were required. Columns were stood onto steel base plates laid either directly onto the tarmac or, in a couple of instances, onto concrete pads. Height adjustable columns were used to accommodate the height variation across the site and to maintain the ability to re-locate the deck without modification should that be needed in the future. In total the installation involved 38 deck modules and 3 ramp modules.
Access Ramps & Stairs The modular ramps were positioned in such a way that only 2 parking spaces were lost on the ground below while still providing safe entry and egress not just to the deck but also back into the main traffic flow round the site. Further space savings were made by installing a permanent emergency pedestrian escape ladder rather than a flight of stairs.
Should L & L completely outgrow their Hertford site at some future date and move elsewhere they can take their TopDeck with them. The whole deck is demountable and re-locatable. The adjustable legs can be used to accommodate different terrain variations at a new site.
The drainage incline on the deck has also been designed to allow for future expansion on the existing site with more modules mounted over the secure compound should this become desirable.
Dealer Principal Andrew Gallacher said “We’re already seeing the benefit of the new storage deck as we progressively relinquish our off-site compounds.” Property Consultant Paul key was equally enthusiastic. “I’m convinced this will prove to be an excellent investment and will make life a lot easier on a day to day basis.”
This is the third car storage deck TopDeck have installed in the last two years following installations at Gatwick Airport and Fawdington BMW, Newcastle. General Manager Steve Dunn said “Car storage is a problem for nearly all car dealers and TopDeck have proved they can supply a cost effective solution that can be adapted to almost any site and installed with the minimum of disruption.”