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Monday, January 25, 2021

Have your say on parking in Newcastle

The silly season is upon us and, arguably, there’s nothing more coveted than a carpark.

City of Newcastle is looking into parking efficiency across the city, and has put its 10-year strategy titled On the street: a plan to better manage parking in the Newcastle LGA, on public exhibition.

It states that the council’s challenge is to “provide enough parking spaces to support reasonable access by car,” while also making changes that encourage more walking, riding, public transport, and shared arrangements.

The plan has been developed in close consultation with local businesses, communities, and key stakeholders, and focuses on managing parking demand.

It also outlines that filling 85% of car spaces as the ideal capacity, meaning one in seven car spaces is available for parking.

To help determine just how we’re faring, a comprehensive parking demand and supply assessment was undertaken in 2019, covering the area from Hamilton East through to Nobbys and south to Cooks Hill, and the Hamilton and The Junction commercial areas.

It found multiple areas across the city were exceeding 85% occupancy, including Hamilton, Cooks Hill, The Junction, Newcastle foreshore, The Hill, and off-street car parks near Darby Street, Newcastle East and City East.

The council is considering several ideas. One is the feasibility of vehicle mounted licence plate recognition systems to complement current enforcement.

It’s also planning to investigate pricing models, while acknowledging that extensions to paid parking are “politically unappealing, and even more so in the context of the disruption that has characterised the City Centre environment in recent years, with construction of light rail, Bathers Way and, more recently, the East End development.”

The council will also look at developing a policy for local reinvestment of paid parking proceeds.

Director of Governance David Clarke said he was encouraged by the positive stakeholder input and was now looking for broad community feedback on both plans.

“The Parking Plan outlines actions focused on boosting the efficient utilisation of the city’s 10,600 on-street parking spaces and improving the customer experience,” Mr Clarke said.

“We aim to make the most efficient use of our public streetscapes with this 10-year parking plan that addresses how to best manage parking demand now and into the future, with the flexibility to adapt to transport trends as our city continues to grow.”

Also on public exhibition is a plan to encourage safe cycling across the city.

On our bikes: A plan for safe and connected cycling in the Newcastle LGA is aimed at making “walking and riding the natural and safe choices for short trips in Newcastle.”

“Safety is identified as the number one barrier to people taking up cycling as an alternative to driving in our city and, therefore, delivering infrastructure and improvements that enhance safety is at the core of our draft cycling plan,” Mr Clarke said.

“With a relatively flat terrain and the overwhelming majority of our trips under 10 kilometres, Newcastle has great potential to shift to active transport options such as cycling.”

The cycling plan acknowledges the surge of interest in cycling in recent times, with reports of record bike sales attributed to the measures implemented in response to COVID-19.

“We will ride the wave of this renewed focus and realise the potential that a significant shift to cycling can have for our city in terms of improving [the] health of our residents, the amenity of our streetscapes, and overall liveability,” Mr Clarke said. 

“Most people who responded to our cycling survey ride for recreation purposes. 

“We are working towards creating a cycling network that makes it fun, safe and convenient to ride for more everyday trips, such as for education or to the local shops. 

“One of our key objectives is to improve access to and within local centres across the city, so that people will be encouraged to swap short car trips for walking or cycling. 

“We now look forward to receiving community feedback to refine our plans.”

City of Newcastle is encouraging Novocastrians to review and have their say on the draft Cycling and Parking Plans, which are on public exhibition until January 2021.

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