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Councils: Please don’t increase parking rates for residential units

Monday, July 23, 2018, by Project Urban

Sunshine Coast and Brisbane City Councils are looking to increase parking rates for two-bedroom and three-bedroom units. While these increases relate to ‘resident’ parking, rather than ‘visitor’ parking, and for Brisbane it only applies in ‘suburban areas’, should this decision come to fruition it will be evidence of a short-sighted reaction that will have failed to consider our not-so-distant future trends and needs.

I’ve written about changes in lifestyle and social trends including car ownership before.In that article (read it here), I outlined how we’ve embraced ride sharing, and have a growing acceptance of self-driving cars, and the introduction of smart taxi firms and car subscription services.

These, and other once futuristic concepts are now materialising and have very real impacts on the design of our communities.

While at this point in time, car parking undoubtedly tops the list of resident complaints, in the future we simply won’t need extra parking spaces.

Councils, I implore you – don’t increase parking rates for residential units!

At the very least there should be some discretion in the application of parking rates.

On sites where there is limited public transport, or without nearby shops and services, some additional parking may be warranted. But for sites that are close to high-frequency public transport, or business centres, there should be no need for additional car parking.

A ‘one size fits all’ approach for parking simply isn’t appropriate. Let the market dictate the supply and demand for car parking as this is a more dynamic response to a constantly changing situation.

I appreciate that it’s tough, but now’s the time for leadership. Oiling the squeaky wheel of resident complaints is a backward step that will ultimately disadvantage those same residents, and the greater community in future.

Among the negative impacts is housing affordability, limited design potential, reduced infill density opportunities, and as private car ownership steadily declines, residential developments will end up with valuable space tied up in excessive car parks, that could have been put to better, more productive use.

In real dollar terms, every additional car park costs up to $50,000. This is because resident car parks must be covered, which means they must be in a garage or basement car park. These costs will be passed on to the consumer, who will pay more for housing.

Why fix what’s not broken? The parking provisions in the current planning scheme are adequate and appropriate.

Under the current Sunshine Coast planning scheme, the requirement is one parking space per dwelling plus one visitor space for every four dwellings. Under the proposed amendments, the following rates will apply:

1 bedroom dwelling1 space (unchanged)
2 bedroom dwelling1.25 spaces
3 bedroom dwelling1.5 spaces
4+ bedroom dwelling 2 spaces
visitor parking unchanged

Whilst the increase is just 0.25 or 0.50 per unit, the cumulative affect is an extra five car parks for a typical 10 unit development. An increase of 13 to 18 spaces.

It’s my opinion, the way to drive down private car usage is by limiting private off-street parking, not increasing it.Then direct those resources to creating integrated car parking facilities and public transport.

The submission period for the Sunshine Coast has already closed, however, you should still email Council at planningscheme@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au to make your thoughts known.

Brisbane City Council has not yet commenced an amendment process, but you could help shape the direction of that amendment by emailing strategic.planning@brisbane.qld.gov.au .