Parking space surprise

SHOPPERS who struggled to find a parking space in the central business district over Christmas may find it hard to believe, but an investigation into the number of parking spaces in the CBD has revealed overall there is no shortage.

Orange City Council embarked on an in-depth study into the city’s car parks and provisions for the future, earlier in the year.

Although the final results are yet to go before the council, councillors were briefed on the findings recently.

Mayor John Davis said the briefing revealed there were enough car parks in the CBD, but there was a shortage in several  other spots in the city.

He believes the council should begin an overhaul of car parking in the city in 2014, looking at the opportunity for new car parks and a review of time limits.

“It’s no good having plenty of parking at the railway station if you need them in the top block of Summer Street,” he said.

“I’d like to see where we are going to go in the future, not only in the main street but also the 20 or so main blocks in the CBD area.”

Cr Davis said the council would revisit its parking contribution system - where developers pay the council when there is an onsite parking shortage - and would also see if there was support for multi-storey decked parking, either paid or free.

“Paid parking is probably not the flavour of the month, it’s not acceptable at this point,” he said.

“[But] it would have to be looked at and there would have to be consultation.”

Cr Davis believes the city’s parking woes will be solved by a combination of new car parks and a “complete overhaul” of parking time limits.

“We need to look at the current land we own and maybe we’ll have to sell certain pieces of land to buy another piece to make a car park,” he said.

“[Also] instead of having flat two-hour parking you might have some half-hour and some one-hour.

“You’d have the cars parked closest to the CBD with the shortest time and as you move out you’d have longer time.”

Cr Davis said the council would also need to have discussions with business owners about employee parking to make the most of the parking already available.

Although the council’s plans to transform the Anson Street car park near Woolworths into a shopping centre to provide multi-storey car parking failed to attract an investor, Cr Davis said he was still hopeful the site would be redeveloped.

In the meantime, the opening of the Summer Centre has eased the parking shortage in the top-end of town, he said.

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