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6 July 2021

Why are we providing so much parking in growth areas?

As our city continues to expand, the pressure to provide car parking hasn’t diminished, despite years of planning policy encouraging sustainable models of transport, 20 minute cities and walkable neighbourhoods. Instead, many growth corridor Councils are requiring the provision of on-street car parking at a rate double the statutory rate, with adverse consequences for our suburbs.

The planning scheme, via Clause 56.06-8, effectively requires the provision of on-street parking at the equivalent of one space per two dwellings. However, most growth area Councils, with the notable exception of Melton, require the provision of one car parking space per dwelling. This over provision of parking results in thousands of square metres of land constructed for unnecessary car parking.

Whilst it is possible for developers to seek a review against these Council conditions, given the cost of delays and the prohibitive costs associated with VCAT hearings, it is simply more cost effective for developers to construct the car parking as requested. An unintended consequence of this approach is that, collectively, we have established a system by which much greater areas of valuable land are being dedicated to car parking than necessary.

It is evident from Ratio’s experience that the excessive provision of on-street parking is fuelled by Council officers being concerned about future complaints from residents. However, the catch 22 of the oversupply of on-street car parking over the past decades has created a community expectation that parking immediately outside your home in the middle and outer suburbs is a right, thereby further accentuating the potential for complaints. 

Ratio’s review of car parking demand in the City of Hume, based on the 2016 census data, shows that average car ownership for all dwellings sits at 1.95 car parking spaces per dwelling. For the vast majority of dwellings in growth areas this will be provided in the form of a double garage and typically with an additional visitor space in the driveway in front.

Whilst larger dwellings, at 4 bedrooms and above, sit above this average at 2.63 cars, the vast majority of dwellings provide enough car parking on their own property without having to rely on street parking.

We are not advocating the removal of on-street parking altogether, however our review of ABS data above confirms that even with the provision of street car parking as required by ResCode (Clause 56), there is still an ample supply of on street car parking for residents and their visitors, even those with multiple cars.

Instead, the creation of convenient additional on-street car parking spaces simply encourages higher levels of car ownership and the use of garages for storage. This approach has several consequences, including:

  • The inability to increase the density of housing in the most walkable parts of new housing estates
  • Reduced street planting which has an impact on heat capture, walkability of our footpaths, and streetscape amenity
  • Impacts on housing affordability in these estates as increased densities enable the cost of common infrastructure, such as street parking, to be shared amongst a greater number of future landowners

So, what is the solution?

It’s time to do things differently.  We need to include stronger guidance within the Precinct Structure Plans (PSPs) to ensure the principles of amenity, walkability and liveability are not overshadowed by the misconception that residents need on-street parking at a rate of one space per dwelling.  The consequences of not doing so reduces tree canopy opportunities and reduces the affordability of dwellings in our growth areas.

Author: Hilary Marshall, Director: Transport and Colleen Peterson, CEO

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