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What’s behind the lights?

Southbank Residents Association

09 Nov 2017

The parking dilemma?

As I make my way throughout the community I hear mixed messages about parking, particularly the impact on street parking from the reduced provision of internal parking within new developments.

Amendment C133 was introduced in March 2010 which allowed the relaxing of the minimum parking requirements. Developers are nowadays rewarded for reducing parking and, as each new development is approved, there is less internal parking within these buildings.

Developers are encouraged to have an overall sum of less than one parking lot per dwelling. Sometimes it has been as low as 1:4. Gone are the days of a minimum of one parking lot per dwelling and in many cases two.

The angst I hear is that should XYZ development be approved, with its reduced internal parking amenity, then this will lead to residents parking their vehicles on the streets. It is perceived that this will create on-street parking congestion and deprive other residents the benefit of their visiting guests to access street parking.

While this could possibly occur, it assumes that past trends where everyone owned a vehicle as soon as they become of driving age have remained – more about vehicle ownership shortly.

However, with the amendments to the parking policy, it was ensured street parking wasn’t going to become the alternative. All developments post March 2010 do not qualify for a street parking permits.

Of course, any resident is entitled to park their vehicle on the street and pay the applicable fee for the prescribed time limit – hardly practical for a permanent resident. Based on this alone, I feel these concerns are ill-founded.

There were several benefits to be achieved from this policy change. Of particular note, it was seen as one way to assist with local road congestion. For example, the current Australia 108 development is to have 1105 dwellings. One can only imagine the impact 1100+ vehicles would have on the immediate City Rd and Southbank Boulevard intersection should this development be approved under the previous mindset.

As it is, it will have provision for 558 vehicles, which will likely add significantly to the congestion of these roads. Secondly, and of critical importance in this time of an apparent housing affordability crisis, removing a car park will reduce the cost of the dwelling. Based on current market figures, a car park has a value of about $60,000 and higher.

Putting the CBD aside for a moment, Southbank is the most serviced suburb for public transport and is easily accessible. Car share vehicles are now prominent throughout Southbank although membership has been a slow take-up at just 8 per cent, whereas Sydney City has embraced this initiative and has achieved 20 per cent membership.

Car share is just one further initiative to encourage reduced vehicle ownership. These two combined, are strong reasons to ask ourselves how necessary our vehicles are.

Talking about vehicle ownership, data from the last census shows that from 2006 to 2016 vehicle ownership in Southbank has dropped by 20 per cent and in Melbourne City a staggering 35 per cent. The other parts of the municipality show figures similar to Southbank.

In short, it seems there is a trend here with the residents of Southbank, and the wider CoM municipality, moving in the right direction and ditching their vehicles for walking, public transport and car sharing.

There are reports that up to 30 per cent of car parks within buildings are not being used – have a look in your own building or ask your building manager what figure they estimate. Just think of the benefits to the environment this trend is having, let alone the individuals’ budget.

Someone needs to be a leader to drive change and I think this policy went a long way to getting us to where we are now. I guess only time will tell, but I think our off-street parking will be safe from congestion attributed to residents without car parks in new developments.

For the record - I have not owned a vehicle since 1997 and am a regular walker throughout Southbank and the city, user of public transport and car share.

Tony Penna - President

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