Council seeks parking solution

DRIVERS could find themselves snaking their way through a parking area in the centre of Sale Street if Orange councillor Ash Brown’s suggestion for a short-term fix to the central business district’s parking woes takes off.

Cr Brown said about 50 spaces could be established in the centre of the road between Summer and Byng Streets, similar to the parking area in Sale Street near the former hospital.

“[Parking] is absolutely a priority. We can’t leave it for another year or two it’s a breaking point now,” he said.

“I think council has probably sat on its hands over the last couple of years.”

Cr Brown said establishing parking in the middle of the streets on the fringes of the CBD, like Sale Street or further up Anson Street, was one quick option the council could consider to fix the shortage.

“It could cause congestion with traffic ... but it could be seen as a trial in the area for a year,” he said.

“If it doesn’t work you could take it out. You’d still have through-traffic it would just slow it down and that could be a good thing.”

At the start of 2012, mayor John Davis said increasing the number of parking spaces for the CBD would be a key issue for the council.

One year on, Cr Davis said the council’s inability to improve parking was one of the biggest disappointments of the year.

“We really haven’t made any progress in regards to car parking,” he said.

“It’s a major challenge that won’t go away. We either need more plans for car parks in the right places or a new strategy to make better use of what we have.”

Cr Brown said councillors would discuss options for the city’s parking shortage at a summit early this year.

The opening of the Summer Centre later in the year was expected to take some of the pressure off the CBD, opening up hundreds of car parks, Cr Davis said.

He said the recent policy change, which saw the council forgo thousands in parking contributions when the use of buildings was changed, would make parking an even greater future challenge.

But as a supporter of the change, Cr Brown said the amount the council would lose was minimal.

Plans to redevelop the Anson Street car park near Woolworths remain a pipe dream for the council, which is relying on interest from developers keen to invest in the multimillion shopping centre.

Cr Davis expects a report to council in the first half of 2013 detailing any interest they have received from developers, but is uncertain if the development will take off in the current economic climate.

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