Accessible parking and signage at hospital

Car Parking


Accessible car parking is an essential component in the support of those using our buildings. A well-defined and communicated access strategy can make all the difference between a good and bad customer experience. A strategy that considers logical design, clear signage, markings, colour, maps, and identification of entry points can promote independent navigation for all users.

Recent studies have shown how the use of mobile apps, electronic kiosks and other web-based technology can also help improve the customer experience, particularly where users are able to view parking arrangements in advance.

An optimal car parking strategies considers a wide range of users and a combination of approaches to provide clear, intuitive, and well-designed access. A combined approach to parking, signage, and exterior design will result in a solution that meets the needs of all people, including those with specific sensory and mobility needs including the need for mobility scooter users and those with guide dogs. In the event mobility scooters cannot be accommodated within the building the strategy needs to include an area to securely park mobility scooters. Early consideration of a strategy is critical in ensuring that topographical features are not a constraint to good access. See NHS car parking guidance for

Recommended standards:

  • Where space allows, ensure there are adequate parking facilities for the expected number of users. Adequate off-street parking discourages indiscriminate parking and supports good access for all. It is usually around 5% of total spaces plus a space for each disabled employee who needs one. See British Standards BS8300;2018 Part 1 p18,190
  • Consider the needs of everybody likely to use the car park and ensure facilities are designed to be convenient and safe for all users including pedestrian and car users.
  • The strategy should consider all users of the carpark. Not only should this include blue badge holders, but also make allowance for those who are temporarily injured, unwell, pregnant, or unable to walk long distances.
  • Use colour codes routes and landmarks to mark out destinations and reduce the need for reliance ontraditional signage.
  • Highlight ‘landmarks’ to help users create a mental map of a parking area so they can move around without getting lost.
  • Ensure that the strategy considers effective exit and entry route for drop-off, pick-up, and emergency access.

See Link Building for Everyone: A Universal Design Approach, External Environments, and approach 1. For further detailed information see External Environments and Approach

The design of car parks and setting down points must consider the needs of motorists and pedestrians while ensuring a safe environment. Provision of a particular feature in the build environment may benefit some people while presenting a potential hazard or inconvenience to others, so finding the right balance for all users should be considered in the overall final design. Example raised kerbs are a common feature in the external environment that is particularly useful for people with visual difficulties as it provides a physical indication of the pavement edge, however raised kerbs cannot be easily traversed by wheelchairs users, parents with buggies etc. Mandatory and best practice guidance should be considered to support improved patient outcomes for safety, effectiveness, and patient experience, which all contribute towards a more inclusive user experience. See link HTM 07-03 NHS car-parking management: environment and sustainability 2015 edition

Recommended standards:

  • Spaces should be considered for people who need proximate access to the building, with design of pedestrian routes being easy to understand, logical and consistent. For example, people on chemotherapy who are not blue badge holders.
  • Kerbs need to be level or flush with the carriageway to meet the needs of all pedestrians, and the location of the dropped kerb should match on both sides of the road. Note: Raised kerbs are a common feature beneficially to those who are visually impaired but can be challenging for a wheelchair user, stroller, or mobility aids.
  • A tactile paving surface can be used to warn of the absence of a kerb and to guide pedestrians with visual impairments in the direction of the crossing, however they can also cause challenges to those with increased sensitivity in their feet and those using strollers, wheelchairs, or other mobility aids.Consider all user needs in the design and seek appropriate professional help to provide the optimum solution. Further guidance can be found in the RIBA publication “Designing for accessibility”.
  • Effective lighting is essential for those with visual impairment whilst also improving safety and usability for all users. For further information see Lighting for Healthcare Premises
  • Where possible, access routes should be wide enough to accommodate two wheelchairs’ users to pass. See link British Standards BS 8300:2018 which recommends a surface width of 1800mm, but where this is not possible consideration should be given to passing places along longer routes, design details for which can be found in the standard.

A good parking strategy will promote a user’s independence, support good orientation and be inclusive for everyone. Tactile design combined with visual signage, visual landmarks, and hearing stimuli such as a water fountain are all examples of features that help support inclusivity.

Recommended standards:

  • Design the customer journey to be as straightforward as possible and avoid confusing messages or signage.
  • Make parking information accessible to users both prior and during their visit. Highlight where to park, the type of parking available, cost, concession, method of payment and access routes from the carpark to the building.
  • Ensure parking entrance strategy gives driver maximum visibility of the whole car park, so they can establish the capacity and available spaces easily, supported by good signage. NHS Car parking Guidance
  • Routes between the carpark and the main building should be clear and well maintained to ensure safe access.
  • Routes should be as direct as possible to main entrance and allow sufficient footpath width for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Think about the design of routes that may involve changes in level such as steps or ramps. Consider assistance dogs, and mobility scooter users as well as wheelchairs and pushchairs.
  • Ensure guard railing around blind corners and areas with reduced visibility.
  • Provide dropped kerbs for wheelchair users, pushchairs, and trolleys. At Crossing points
  • Create a zebra crossing at crossing points with reduced speed limits- no greater than 20mph and restrict parking in the local vicinity.
  • Effective lighting is essential for those with visual impairment whilst also improving safety and usability for all users. See lighting for healthcare premises CIBSE,LG02
  • Drainage gullies and other surface gaps should not exceed 10mm and be perpendicular to line of travel.
  • An uneven surface or an inclined bay makes transfer into and out of a car very difficult and may present a hazard to some pedestrians, provide firm and level surfaces with a cross-fall gradient not exceeding 1-in-50 acceptable where necessary to ensure water run-off.
  • Access routes with a gradient of 1 in 25 should have level landings at regular intervals, at maximum 19m intervals and routes with gradient of 1 in 33 should have landing at no more than 25m intervals. Access routes with gradients above 1 in 25 should be designated as external ramps.
  • Ensure ramped and stepped routes well signposted and ensure gradient of ramp is 1 in 20 with maximum rise 450mm and maximum length 900mm.
  • Provide and alternative access route if ramp exceeds 2000mm. For further details on ramps and slopes refer to the guidance and expert help with planning the spaces effectively.
  • Where steps are necessary, ensure they are wide enough to suit expected levels of use and never less than less than 1200mm wide.
  • Avoid single steps as they cause trip hazards. Unless essential

Car parking spaces are a critical resource for many people visiting health facilities. Where space is limited, accommodating all user needs can be a challenge.

Recommended standards

  • All carparks should incorporate designated spaces for car users with disabilities. Designated spaces should as near as possible to the building entrance and ideally within 25m. Where this is not possible, best practice is to provide a covered path with seating at intervals of no greater than 50m. Ideally the seating would be highlighted with buff coloured tactile paving in line with overall facility design.
  • Within enclosed spaces allow space for wheelchair access at the rear of the vehicle in addition to that required at the sides. Users should be able to fully open their doors and transfer from driver or passenger sides. Example of dimensions for off open off street parking 2400mm wide and 4800mm long, with an increase of 750mm is required if both driver and passenger are wheelchair users. When looking at dimensions, always best to check requirement in line with overall capacity and need, above are guidelines. For More Detail see link BS8300: 2018 fig.4 p20
  • Whilst there is always a need to maximise car parking capacity, consideration should be given to providing several spaces larger than the standard. These spaces will make it easier for those who drive larger vehicles, need to access side doors for loading and those who require addition space to manoeuvre in and out of vehicle. Standard head-on (perpendicular) car parking spaces are typically 2400mm wide x 4800mm long and in-line (parallel) parking spaces 2400mm wide 6100mm long.
  • Plan the location of street furniture carefully to ensure it does not obstruct the pavement
  • Ideally supply a level or flush access route away from vehicles and a firm level surface with cross fall gradient not exceeding 1 in 50. Tactile paving should be provided at lowered kerbs to optimise safe independent movement between car park and building.
  • Where possible avoid mixing staff and visitor parking mixed. The staff carpark should be clearly designate to avoid distress for other users.

Well, considered signage with good visibility promotes independent access for all users. Keep information clear and simple to so that users can follow and adhere to the instructions.

Recommended Standards

  • Always give clear instructions on how the carpark operates.
  • Group relevant signage together to avoid clutter. For example: prices, payment options, concessions and contractual notices should be grouped.
  • See example Health Technical Memorandum 07-03 Keeping Signage and instructions simple, p12, 3.33
  • Designated accessible parking spaces, parent and child spaces and other designated user spaces should be clearly marked both on the roadway surface and with a post or wall-mounted sign at the end of each bay. Post or wall mounted signs should be at least 300mm wide x 450mm high and positioned 1500 to 2500mm to the centreline from ground level. Painted roadway symbols should be at least 1400mm in plan height.
  • Signage indicating the location of designated spaces should incorporate the international symbol of access. See The Department for Transport’s Traffic Signs Manuals for detailed information.
  • Users should be made aware of designated parking bays as early as possible to assist those in greatest need as they arrive on site.
  • Clearly identify staff car parking zones from other user parking.
  • Signage should be well lit and clearly visible when natural light is low.
  • Contrast the signage letters with their background. Ensure good contrast between the sign and its surrounding environment. See Health Technical Memorandum 07-03 Keeping Signage and instructions recommends the initial letter of each word be upper case to aid rapid word identification. For example, Welcome To Car Park A
  • Signage should have a matt finish to avoid reflections and glare making them difficult to read.
  • Avoid underlining of letters as this can be miss-read. For example, an h can look like
  • Use universally known colour codes for safety signs as recommended in The Department for Transport’s Traffic Signs Manuals. Green for safety, yellow for risk, red for danger or prohibition and blue for mandatory.

Consider the type of ticket dispensers as part of the overall strategy. They should be accessible, easy to use and understandable for all users. Telephone payments, pre-paid options and payment before exit should all be considered in creating a user-friendly experience.

Recommended Standards

  • Payment on exit often favoured to allow drivers to pay for time used but also support ease of access for users needing to get to appointments without worrying about parking.
  • Where pre-payment is required, this requirement should be well signposted.
  • Ticket machine instructions must be clear, logical and, where possible, incorporate symbols or diagrams in addition to text.
  • The ground surface around the ticket machine should be level and free from obstruction. There should be a clear area in front of the machine of at least 1850mm depth and 2100mm wide. If mounted on a plinth, the edges of the plinth should not project beyond the face of the machine.
  • Dispensers should visually contrast with their background for easy identification.
  • Operating buttons/controls should visually contrast with the background surface.
  • Where machines require the driver to reach from inside the car, a bell or intercom should be provided to call for assistance. These machines can present difficulty as motorists should not have to leave the car to get ticket. In event assistance needed the intercom will facilitate any motorists who may need assistance.
  • All slots, buttons and controls should be positioned in range of 750mm to 1200mm above ground level and contrast visually with the surrounding surface.
  • Pay stations should be set at differing heights to accommodate wheelchair users or those on other mobility devices.
  • Concessions should be considered in line with NHS guidance. See HTM 07-03 and NHS car parking guidance 2021 NHS car parking guidance
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