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Outstanding Car Park Operator: Durham County Council and NSL

British Parking Awards 2023

Mark Moran
01 October 2023
NSL’s Keith Hanshaw with Durham’s Jenny Thomas and Peter Broxton, Vaso Vaino from Stripe Consulting (category sponsor) and Scott Wallace of NSL


Durham County Council provides a park & ride service and city centre parking facilities used by residents, visitors and businesses. Day-to-day operation is carried out by NSL, which is part of Marston Holdings.

The Durham park & ride service runs from three sites – Belmont, Howlands and Sniperley. All three are owned by Durham County Council and operated by NSL. In total the park & ride service provide 1,414 surface level spaces along with 53 disabled bays, seven electric charging points, 11 secure cycle stores, 14 motor home bays and ticket offices and toilet facilities.

Surveys show that nearly half of customers use the park & ride for commuting, a third for shopping and the rest for tourism and ad-hoc visits. About 50% of users make use of the park & ride between 3-6 times a week. The majority of park & ride customers are female, with older age groups using the service more frequently than younger groups. A small proportion of users are disabled: the sites are DDA-compliant and have specialist welfare facilities for disabled customers.

The park & ride operates between 7am and 7pm – frequently closing later for late night shopping, festivals and events. Payment can be made using cash, card or by charging a smart card.

Enforcement is avoided if possible, with mobile patrollers work to help customers park correctly.

The Durham park & ride sites now offer facilities for more sustainable modes of transport including charging points for electric vehicles and secure cycle storage facilities. New EV chargers installed 2022 to provide enhanced charging for P&R users and for local residents requiring overnight charging points. All the sites have slow chargers fitted and Belmont features a superfast charger due to proximity to the A1 motorway.

The council has worked to meet the needs of both residents and visitors. Durham recognised that several motorhomes were parking overnight within County Durham car parks. This was not permitted under the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), but the council recognised that adding overnight motorhome parking within the Belmont P&R would be useful for the many visitors to Durham and to resolve issues within other car parks. The council liaised with representatives of motorcaravan body CAMpRA and asked volunteers to use the new provision free of charge and provide it with feedback.

In 2019 Durham also opened a new coach park within Belmont park & ride providing a boost for tourism. The facility has 30 spaces for coaches. Coaches using the site may drop people off and pick them up in the city centre at a dedicated coach bay on Framwellgate Waterside, then drive over to the park & ride site to park. This is free for coaches and provides better facilities for their drivers, including toilet facilities. Drivers are then able to board the P&R bus for free should they wish to visit the city centre themselves. In addition, the site has facilities allowing coach drivers to clean their vehicles inside and out and includes facilities for them to empty chemical toilets, which is the only site where they may do so between York and Edinburgh.

The Sands multi-storey car park was built to replace a surface car park that was redeveloped into a new business centre for Durham University. The Sands multi-storey car park was designed to meet new standards for accessibility, with the council adopting the larger parking bay sizes and providing Blue Badge bays, Blue Badge EV bays, lifts and ramp access. Ground floor automatic doors improve access for wheelchair uses and pushchairs. The car park is always open, with telephone support available 24/7.

Durham County Council has prioritised customer experience over maximising occupancy.

NSL night staff undertake following duties throughout the night:

  • Fully deep cleaned (one level per evening)
  • All levels litter picked
  • Spillages/Drains cleared
  • Visual checks for damage and reported if found
  • All touchpoints cleaned, lifts, doors and payment machines.

Traffic/Road Safety Engineer
Slough Borough Council
Observatory House, 25 Windsor Road, Slough
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Slough Borough Council
Observatory House, 25 Windsor Road, Slough
£38,223 to £43,421 Plus £1039 Local Weighting Allowance
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London Borough of Hounslow
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British Parking Awards 2024

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