I read with interest the refurbishment feature on the repair of Heathrow's car park 1A/B (NCE 19 February). The points about the expense and inconvenience of refurbishment should be highlighted, to inform other owners and operators of the potential problems and risks.
However, the work of the ICE National Steering Committee for the inspection of multi-storey car parks was not mentioned, which was disappointing.
The committee was formed following the partial collapse of the Pipers Row car park. Early interim guidance was followed with 'Recommendations for the inspection, maintenance and management of car park structures' in December 2002 (ISBN 0-7277-3183-1).
The guidance recommends the establishment of a life-care plan for every multi-storey car park and I would hope this has been prepared for Heathrow car parks 1A/B to achieve the expected 20-year extension to its working life.
A life-care plan draws together all the records for the car park, so that fully informed decisions can be made about maintenance. It also indicates minimum inspection frequencies and capabilities of inspectors.
Car park structural safety has been a subject within the ICE/IStructE Standing Committee on Structural Safety reports since 1994. However, despite this and much other work, there seems to be either widespread 'ignorance' of, or apathy for, the life-care plan process, leaving the risks to existing car parks potentially unaddressed.
Mike Haynes, associate director, FaberMaunsell, Imperial House, 31 Temple Street, Birmingham, B2 5DB