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The removal of 300 Dunedin car parks by the end of the year was not thought out and will further discourage people from travelling to the city centre, a Dunedin city councillor says.
The St Andrew St car park will close on September 28 for three months while a council upgrade is carried out.
Cr Jules Radich expressed his frustration about the closure yesterday, saying the council had not looked at alternatives other than suggesting people use public transport or park in existing car parks.
"I’m concerned about the repercussions of this move; 300 is a huge amount of car parks to lose without an accessible alternative for people."
But the council said it explored staging the upgrade and alternative on-street parking arrangements, but these proved unworkable and it made sense to do the upgrade now.
Cr Radich said the council could have provided alternatives for parking, such as in Parry St, which could be redeveloped quickly to accommodate more car parks, and he wondered why the council did not follow through with an earlier plan of switching nearby car parks to angled parking in surrounding streets near the waterfront.
He had spoken to Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders about using Port Otago space at the wharf, but was told the space would not available for parking.
"I can think of plenty of other options, including Parry St and the space across the road from the wharf.
"What we’re going to see is that it becomes more difficult for everyone commuting.
"It’s going to take far more time and effort for them to find a park and get to work."
It was also disappointing the number of car parks would be reduced from 300 to 235 as a result of the upgrade, he said.
"I am alarmed and concerned about the way the council takes car parks away with ease, but replaces them with less that are further away and more expensive."
He suggested a multistorey parking building at the St Andrew St site should also have been considered instead of an upgrade reducing car parks.
Council infrastructure services and networks chairman Cr Jim O’Malley said the upgrade of the car park was to provide a better and safer asphalt finish, not a council plan to reduce car parks in town.
A council spokesman said upgrading the car park at the same time as continuing with the cycle network made sense.
"The result will be a safer car park that provides improved levels of service, as well as a better cycleway network."
He said the reduction in car parks reflected the shift from informal gravel parking to marked spaces, as well as the introduction of designated camper van parks.
The council was exploring options to complete the upgrade sooner, depending on progress during construction.
"The aim is to reopen the upgraded car park in time for the busy Christmas shopping period, but the first section could open sooner, in November, followed by the rest of the car park in early December."
The council encouraged motorists to try other transport options, he said.
"There are no plans for a multistorey car parking building on the St Andrew St site, but the [council] aims to provide a safe and efficient integrated transport network that caters for all users, including motorists, public transport users, cyclists and pedestrians."