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In the Dunedin City Council’s latest Residents’ Opinion Survey, parking was identified as the main cause of resident dissatisfaction. Just 20% of respondents were satisfied with central city parking, while the satisfaction rate with on-street metered parking was 23%. The top priority for survey respondents was the provision of more parking.
This is a critical issue for Dunedin businesses, particularly in light of considerable changes to the CBD over recent years.
While the development of cycleways and the Bus Hub are to be encouraged as ways of increasing cycling and public transport use, they have resulted in the removal of many car parks from the central city — parks that have not been replaced.
Inner city car parking is set to come under even more pressure. The new Dunedin Hospital is an exciting and necessary project, but it is not yet clear what impacts its construction will have on street parking in its vicinity, nor whether patient and visitor car parking will be available on-site.
The new ACC building will be another wonderful addition to the central city, but the impending loss of the Dowling St car park has businesses concerned about reduced access to parking for customers and staff.
Businesses want to know these outcomes are understood and appreciated, and that the council has a plan to make up any parking shortfall in the central city.
A period of public engagement began in July 2020 about looming central city transport system changes as the new Dunedin Hospital and other central city developments take shape. Unsurprisingly, parking was a common theme in the public feedback.
The council is considering options for more all-day commuter parking, including park-and-ride facilities around the edge of the central city. This is great, but we still need adequate parking closer to businesses.
Residents come to town to frequent businesses and it is important this remains appealing for people. Given the lingering effects of Covid-19 restrictions on businesses, it is especially vital to remove as many obstacles as possible to their ongoing viability and success.
Public transport and cycling are not always safe, suitable or feasible alternatives for residents. Public feedback cited inclement weather, hills and unsafe roads as barriers to cycling, and noted that bus routes and timetables were not always going to be convenient.
Dunedin is in the fortunate position of having an increasing population, growing at an average of 1.5% per annum since 2013.
With this in mind, the council’s recently commissioned Dunedin parking roadmap expressed a need for a city-wide parking policy and a central city parking management plan.
However, a plan of action does not appear to be forthcoming, and it seems parking issues will cause residents and businesses further dissatisfaction yet.
- Virginia Nicholls is chief executive of the Otago Southland Employers’ Association.