In April, it was reported in the national news that, according to one structural engineer, older car parks in poor condition ‘could collapse’ due to the increasing number of heavier vehicles.
Kim Jaggard (Con, Maidenbower) submitted questions on the issue to a full council meeting on Wednesday (July 19).
Mrs Jaggard asked when the Exchange Road/Town Hall, Kingsgate and Orchard Street car parks were last assessed by structural engineers and what measures were being taken to ensure they were strong enough to cope with the additional weight of electric vehicles.
A written response from Bob Noyce, cabinet member for environment, sustainability & climate change, said all three underwent a structural survey in 2022 and, while the assessments were in relation to openings and vehicle restraint systems, ‘no concerns were identified in relation to the wider structure or load bearing’.
Mr Noyce added that an assessment of the Exchange Road car park was to begin imminently as it was currently the only one being considered to include EV charging points.
He said: “Given this car park has been created using reinforced concrete, including the use of pillars, it is not anticipated that there will be an issue.
“Kingsgate and Orchard Street are to be considered in due course and no EV charge points will be introduced without structural assessments being carried out.”
Mrs Jaggard also asked if parking numbers inside the car parks would be reduced and if it was feasible to weigh each vehicles as it entered.
Mr Noyce said the technology for the latter did exist and would allow the council to limit the weight of vehicles entering the car park.
As for spaces, he added: “It is not anticipated that EVs will result in the reduction of car parking spaces within the Town Hall Car Park and any weight limits may apply to specific areas of the car park, which will likely result in EV charging being located at various points within the site, rather than a dedicated area for EV charging.
“The assessment due to begin shortly will inform how and where EV charging can be located.
“Kingsgate and Orchard Street will be considered in due course.”