Network Planning and Site Selection

Step 1: Site Selection

One of the first, yet most important, steps to be taken once funding has been secured is deciding where the new charging points will be situated. These decisions are crucial and have to be taken carefully to minimise costs, maximise usage and ensure the long-term usefulness of the sites. 

This video explains why site selection is so important:

When selecting sites for chargers, there are various factors to consider so let’s break them down one by one.

Space

To future-proof the new installations as much as possible, at the simplest level, it is advisable to choose a location where there is the physical space to install multiple charge points or additional units further down the line. It will be more cost-effective (in terms of labour and groundwork costs, for example) to build five charge points alongside one another in a single place than it will to build the same five in multiple different locations.

Charger Type

The type of charger that you install is the first major determinant of where your site will be situated.

3.7kW ‘Slow’ chargers (AC level 1) charge about 15 miles of EV range in an hour and are therefore designed mainly for overnight use. This restricts where they can be placed. These are better-placed in residential areas with little access to off-street parking where residents can leave their vehicles plugged in overnight.

7kW – 22kW ‘Fast’ chargers (AC level 2) are the most common charger type. They provide 30 – 90 miles of EV range per hour and should be installed in locations where the average parking time is around 2 – 4 hours. Typical locations include:

  • Workplaces
  • Residential areas
  • Service stations
  • Shopping centres
  • Multi Storey car parks
  • Park and ride facilities
  • Supermarkets
  • Schools and higher education campuses
  • Hospitals


Rapid DC chargers (capable of charging more than 50 miles in one hour) are better-placed along major roads and places where people will be stopping off for a shorter duration. These require substantially more electricity and come at a far higher cost.

Therefore, the average length of time people park in a particular location will determine which charging type should be installed there.

This video takes you through which locations are best suited to slow, fast and rapid charging respectively.

Choosing Between Slow, Fast and Rapid Charging

As the video explains, it is important to think of your EV charging provision as an ‘ecosystem’, with charging points spaced out according to the amount of range they can provide. It is also vital to understand how a parking facility is used before selecting a charging type.

You can find out more about this in the video above

On-street VS Off-street Charging

On-street Charging

On-street EV charging tends to be found more commonly in residential areas where there is less space. It is best-placed in neighbourhoods where there are lots of residents who do not have access to off-street parking, such as urban areas which have a high concentration of terraced houses and apartment blocks. 
This video offers a comprehensive overview of everything you will need to consider if you are building on-street chargers.

You can find out more about this in the video above

Electricity supply

If you’ve narrowed it down to some potential locations, you can start scouting the new sites in closer detail to determine their logistical viability. There are several key factors to consider how technically and/or economically feasible a new site will be:

  • What is the method of electrical connection? 
  • How much capacity is there on the DNO’s network
  • Where is the nearest DNO cable?
  • What size is the DNO cable and based on previous DNO guidance is it sufficient in size to be able to support the charge points


The ideal site would be located nearby to the DNOs cable.

Finding a location that fits these criteria as closely as possible will help keep installation costs lower and lead times shorter. However, compromises might have to be made to make sure the site suits users as well as budgetary requirements.

Off-street Charging

Off-street charging is mainly used in car parks, which can be found in a broader range of locations. It offers greater flexibility than on-street charging since there are normally larger spaces available for the electrical infrastructure, making it easier to install fast and rapid chargers. 

This video takes you through what you need to consider when installing off-street charging.

You can find out more about this in the video above

Electricity Supply

If you’ve narrowed it down to some potential locations, you can start scouting the new sites in closer detail to determine their logistical viability. There are several key factors to consider how technically and/or economically feasible a new site will be:

  • What is the method of electrical connection? 
  • Where is the incoming electricity supply located within the car park
  • How much space is available at the nearest switchboard and how much capacity is there for connections and metering? 
  • Is there enough space to install the correct electrical hardware? 
  • How long will you have to run the cables from the switchboard to the site?
  • How strict are the local rules on electrical installations? What are they?

The ideal site would be located nearby to a site main switchboard with existing low-voltage capacity where there is also enough space to set up electrical cabinets. There would also ideally be existing car parking bays nearby with a property holder willing to convert them into EV charging bays or space to build new EV charging bays. 

Finding a location that fits these criteria as closely as possible will help keep installation costs lower and lead times shorter. However, compromises might have to be made to make sure the site suits users as well as budgetary requirements.

Parking Demographics

Another key consideration is the usage of the site. To get a good return on investment, it’s important to choose a location in which people can access the chargers easily and conveniently, ideally as part of their regular routine. This will ensure a higher volume of EV drivers use the site every day.

  • Does a particular ward have higher EV uptake than others? 
  • Does a particular ward have a high concentration of residents without access to off-street parking? 
  • Have employees at a particular workplace, customers of a particular business/shopping centre or visitors to a particular tourist attraction requested EV charging? 
  • Would it benefit a particular company or organisation to advance its sustainability goals or improve its ‘green’ image by installing EV charging points?


Considering these factors will be important to decide on a location within a council-owned site or decide which organisations might ‘host’ the new charging station.

There are also a number of convenience and safety concerns for users

  • Is the site accessible for wheelchair users and other disabled users?
  • Can the charging points be accessed 24/7 with no additional parking charge for users? 
  • Are the EV charging bays covered? 
  • Is the site well-lit?
  • Are there other nearby amenities available for users? 
    • E.g. Public toilets, convenience shops, visitor attractions


While it may be impossible to meet all of these criteria, it would be beneficial to make sure proposed sites meet as many as possible to ensure an accessible, safe, affordable and convenient experience for users. Ultimately, these factors are likely to determine how well-used any new charging points are into the future.

Different demographics have different priorities. It will be beneficial to know the specific needs of your users to develop a checklist for site selection. Much of this information can be gathered from public consultation, via surveys and ‘town hall’ style meetings.

Safety Considerations

Whichever charging type you opt for and wherever you place your charging infrastructure, there are a number of safety considerations that you must consider when selecting your charging sites. These are broadly similar for both off-street and on-street parking but will come under far greater scrutiny in the latter.

This video explains why and how you should factor safety considerations into your site selection process:

You can find out more about this in the video above

Step 2: CPO Site Review

In this stage in the process the CPO will normally be assessing within the areas jointly identified with the LA which streets and locations would work best for placing EVC infrastructure. Once a long list of locations has been developed the CPO will normally undertake a desktop survey to pinpoint the optimum location within a street, taking into account the IET code of practice, location of available power connections and other electrical equipment, along with house frontages and other immovable objects like trees!

Step 3: Site Survey

Once a list of potential sites has been drawn up, the next stage of the process will be getting experts out on the ground to carry out a site survey. This tends to be carried out by the partner you are working with to install the new charge points but can also be done by external consultants.

Different factors are taken into consideration throughout the survey, including calculations on technical feasibility (i.e. connecting the site to the grid), groundwork costs and health and safety.

This typically occurs over two stages:

  • Stage One: Feasibility Assessment – A brief visit to check if the sites are viable for EV charging and draw up a list of potential sites. 
  • Stage Two: Detailed Planning – Qualified planners sent out to do a detailed assessment of the sites


This video outlines the process:

Step 4: Design And Safety

Design

Once a final list of sites has been finalised and approved, you can start designing your charging facilities. You will need to ensure your new sites meet all local and national regulations so that it can be built. 

Once the initial site surveys have been completed, engineers will need to be sent down to each site to draw up a high level design which entails taking measurements, doing some initial drawings and examining the surrounding area to make sure it is a safe environment to place EV chargers. This is then adapted to a detailed design, in which the site plans are drawn up in more specific detail.

Safety and convenience for both users (EV drivers) and non-users (other drivers & pedestrians) is paramount throughout this process – it is essential to design a site that balances the requirements of both. While there will need to be adequate space for EV bays, the minimum space requirements for pedestrian footpaths must still be met. All designs should also seek to minimise disruption to the surrounding environment as far as possible. 

Collaboration with your residents is also encouraged in the design process. Your chargers will be more frequently used if they are designed in response to their requests. As such, any surveys you can carry out to gather public opinion would be useful to influence your design.

Safety

Some of the main safety considerations to factor into the design of your charging points are:

Dedicated EV Bays

Creating dedicated bays for EV drivers will not only make your facilities more convenient for EV drivers but it will also ensure they can park next to the charging units, eliminating the need for long cables which might obstruct and endanger pedestrians and other road users.

2.5m Distance To Electrified Street Furniture

This will vastly reduce the risk of electric shock (both to pedestrians and EV drivers) should there be any kind of electrical fault. This can be done quickly and easily by creating dedicated EV bays.

Common electrified street furniture:

  • Lampposts
  • Bus stops
  • Parking meters
  • Advertising boards


This video goes into greater detail on designing your charging facilities, how to meet safety requirements and how to design chargers that meet the needs of your residents.

Step 5: Public Consultation

Once more detailed plans for your new charging facilities have been drawn up, it’s time to present them to the public and gather their feedback via a consultation.

Local authorities have plenty of prior experience running public consultations on a broad range of issues and likely already have their own typical methods for doing so. As such, here we will touch specifically on what to bear in mind when carrying out a consultation on local public EV charging. 

Do it with residents not to them

Many residents are already sympathetic to the general idea of getting more EVs on the road. Most people recognise the importance of protecting the environment at the global level and the benefits of cleaner air at the local level. 

However, when it comes to building the chargepoints themselves, you might well run into some opposition. This is why it’s vital to run an effective consultation in which people feel listened to, engaged with and ultimately involved in the new project, as this video outlines:

Start General

Unlike certain issues (e.g. traffic controls, education), where we can assume a base level of knowledge about the issue at hand, levels of awareness about electric vehicles and charging them remain relatively low. It will therefore be useful to leave space in the consultation to gauge levels of understanding of EVs and EV charging, perceived behaviours surrounding both as well as perceived barriers to the uptake of EVs.

This will also be a valuable opportunity to help overcome some of the common misconceptions surrounding EVs:

  • Low range
  • Rapid battery degradation
  • No battery recycling facilities
  • Similar life cycle emissions to petrol/diesel vehicles


Engage With People Directly

People are increasingly becoming aware of the dangers of climate change so it is important to present increasing EV public charging provision as a tangible, short-term strategy to advance green goals. As such, it will be useful to include EV charging in public consultations and meetings on combatting climate change. 

‘Town hall’ style meetings give residents the chance to have an input into the EV chargers being built in their area and they will give local authorities a more detailed understanding of people’s needs (both current EV drivers and non-EV drivers). Taking on board their input will ensure your chargers are better-used. 

Some councils have had success by appointing certain residents as ‘environmental commisioners’ to ensure their voices are heard throughout the policymaking process. 

This video explains how Hammersmith and Fulham Council were able to gain public consent to their ambitious EV charging scheme:

You can find out more about this in the video above