Car park of the future stacks up

IT SOUNDS like an episode of the famous TV series Knight Rider . . . You drop your car off, it parks itself - and when you call it later it is ready and waiting to take you wherever you need to go.

parkfuture.jpgBut this is in fact the UK's largest self-stacking car parking system - one of only three in the country.

The car park, based at the luxury Albany apartment complex, at the heart of the Liverpool's business district, is a first for the city.

In a space of 10 metres by 18 metres beneath, the Grade II listed building on Old Hall Street, it will be able to stack and store a total of 84 cars.

Residents in the Albany complex, where homes are priced between £160,000 and £680,000, will have a special fob, or transponder, which links up to their car.

When they drive into the garage, the doors open and they drive on to a platform and the car is lifted up and stored.

The car is brought back down automatically when the car's owner clicks the fob next to the garage.

Chris Nisbet, chairman of Albany Assets, said: "I'm very excited to be installing the largest car park stacking system in the UK.

"Technology of this nature has got to be the way forward for city parking, especially as space is scarce in developing urban areas like Liverpool city centre."
In eight weeks, work on the car park is due to be complete and the system will be in full operation. Using technology created by German company Wohr Parking Systems, the system knows where your car is parked and who you are.

Andrew Smith, project director for Wohr Parking Systems, said: "When the car's owner places the fob next to the transmitter, it bleeps to acknowledge the car's owner - we can even add a little message such as 'Mrs Jones, your car is waiting for you now'.

"This system is the largest automated stacking car park we have in the UK.

"In some ways the UK is behind the rest of Europe which had its first stacking system back in 1959, but we are now catching up.

"As parking becomes a real problem in city centres, new solutions like this are needed."

With a price tag of nearly £1m - worked out at around £11,000 per parking spot - it isn't something that homeowners will be installing soon.
But the manufacturers say it won't be long before the UK catches up with the rest of Europe and has public car parks organised on a stacking system.

Mr Smith said: "We are working on negotiations in the UK for projects even larger than this one now."
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