Ballarat’s parking issues will be addressed in a sweeping plan of action developed by the city’s council executive aimed at freeing up more spaces in parking hotspots.
Increased enforcement, restriction upgrades, rationalisation of loading zones, transferable tickets, parking permits, mobile phone pay for parking fees, changes to public transport, increased bike lanes and new parking stations are all part of the review designed to alleviate parking congestion and renew life in the CBD.
The 330-page proposed document breaks the city up into 110 separate precincts. Council’s planning and local laws departments interviewed residents, businesses and stakeholders about parking in each block in an attempt to localise parking problems and determine possible changes.
Through this process... we've been able to create a little over 4000 parking spaces.- Terry Demeo
The council’s director of infrastructure and environment Terry Demeo said council had pursued numerous strategies in the past, and that a functional plan was integral to the revitalisation of the Ballarat CBD.
“We went to council in December last year with a specific recommendation for an action plan,” said Mr Demeo.
“Not further strategic directions as such, but a very specific plan about putting in action the strategies put forward.”
Over 1,000 responses to council surveys on parking have been received. Mr Demeo says the great majority of responses were engaged, informative and quite surprising.
“It certainly wasn’t an exercise in council-bashing,” he said.
“It assesses the current situation in terms of restrictions… and makes recommendations as to how we move forward in relation to, not just parking, but getting a balance with residential amenity and the right balance around restrictions for 2-hour spots and maintaining a reasonable level of access for the long-term parker – the commuters from Maryborough and the like.
“They may have to walk a bit further, but we’re not talking about pushing them out of the CBD completely.
“In some circumstances they may have to walk a little further as we rationalise those individual blocks.”
There will be immediate action on restriction upgrades, with some two-hour parks being reduced to one-hour. There will also be an expression of interest issued tor the supply of a mobile phone app enabling parking fees to be paid via online. Transferable tickets will also be brought into circulation quickly, whereby a ticket purchased in one part of the city might be used somewhere else.
Parking officers will receive upgraded technology to make them more responsive to attending zones that are experiencing increased infringements, and unmetered streets may also receive new technologies to help enforce restrictions.
One of the worst areas for parking mayhem is around the Ballarat Base and St John of God hospitals and nearby streets.
Complaints about residential driveways being blocked, cars parking too close to one another, and parking too close to trees, thus damaging root systems, means it is another area under close review, says Terry Demeo.
“In moving around those blocks, the restrictions and what we do with restrictions is about recognising those premium blocks around Webster Street and the like, cheek by jowl with the hospitals, that we should not be as lenient in our restrictions and our freedom of those parking spaces, as we move forward,” he said.
“That’s not going to happen immediately, but recognising that if those spots are at a premium, is it reasonable for those parties to pay something for that sort of privilege?”
Mr Demeo says the action plan is looking to set Ballarat for the next five to ten years, as increased numbers of vehicles come onto the city’s roads through the planned population growth in the north and west.
“We’re not looking to make parking more difficult. It needs to be coupled with the public transport system to have a more user-friendly approach, and Public Transport Victoria are reviewing their network, looking to have everything start at the station and have multiple routes,” he said.
“Through this process, the formalising of parking, we’ve been able to create a little over 4000 new spaces across the entire CBD.
The car parking action plan will be presented to council at its meeting on Wednesday night.
One of the precinct proposals looks at a study of an area bounded by Mair Street to the south, Armstrong Street North to the west, Market Street to the north and Lydiard Street North to the east.
It notes that there are 136 parking bays within the boundaries of the precinct, including:
“This precinct experiences a high level of visitor turnover as a result of its close proximity to key activity areas within the CBD,” says the report.
Some of the proposed solutions to infringements in this block include the downgrading of all-day parking as it is ‘not consistent with the long-term strategic direction for Ballarat’. Restricted short term parking is suggested to assist visitors in finding parking and encouraging CBD workers to find other ways of getting into the city rather than driving, including walking, cycling or public transport.
The report is still in draft and changes may be made.
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