Auckland Council drawing up radical plan to remove parking on roads across the city

Auckland Council is drawing up a radical plan to remove parking on many of the city’s roads to make way for more bus lanes and cycleways.

Tomorrow, councillors will consider a new parking strategy that means Aucklanders will no longer be able to rely on parking outside their homes.

The focus will be on arterial roads, but council planning committee chairman Chris Darby and Auckland Transport are not ruling out removing car parking on side streets from emerging problems like housing intensification.

The strategy is an attempt to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the distance travelled by petrol and diesel cars and shifting towards more climate-friendly forms of transport.

It is tied to the council’s climate plan, Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri, which calls for Auckland to reduce its transport emissions by 64 per cent by 2030 when, in fact, overall emissions are forecast to keep rising.

Under a proposal going to the planning committee, Auckland Transport will be given the power to remove parking without any consultation with residents or Local Boards when it selects roads for new bus lanes, cycleways or makes other changes to the roading network. Nor will it have to provide alternative parking elsewhere.

To enforce the new rules and bigger fines, AT’s parking team could be bolstered by 25 per cent to 50 per cent.

Last night, the strategy came under fire from the likes of the Automobile Association and the Dominion Rd Business Association.

AA principal adviser Martin Glynn said a blanket policy to permanently remove parking on any “strategic” arterial road whenever a construction project is planned sounded bizarre.

He also criticised making changes without talking to communities who use the roads and raised the issue of the Government removing the requirement for developers to provide off-street parking.

“The vast majority of Aucklanders will continue to need cars, and somewhere to park them,” Glynn said.

Dominion Rd Association general manager Gary Holmes called the strategy radical, saying it showed the anti-car focus of Auckland Transport which wanted to remove parking on roads for cycle lanes without any thought about the effect on businesses.

Holmes, who is also a member of Hibiscus and Bays Local Board, said both organisations were concerned about the impact on smaller town centres and shopping areas where parking is their lifeblood.

Some mode shift was required, he said, but giving AT free rein was dangerous and risked a strong pushback.

The first area earmarked for the change is level 3, where the central city, Newmarket, Takapuna, Albany, Henderson, New Lynn, Sylvia Park and Manukau have been chosen to come first due to their connections to rapid transit and good public transport.

Level 2 will apply to metro areas without rapid transit network stations, town centres, commercial centres and suburban areas zoned for terraced houses and apartments with good public transport.

The goal is to roll out the strategy in level 2 and 3 areas by 2030.

Level 1 is where the lowest level of change will occur, although AT will still have the power to remove parking.

AT is developing a parking discussion document to start the conversation with Aucklanders, which is planned for release this month ahead of full consultation in March/April next year.

The strategy is an update on the 2015 parking strategy, which comprised parking on the road. This is not mentioned among the key priorities in the proposed new strategy, where the emphasis is on safety and the efficient movement of people by public transport, cycling, walking, freight and general traffic.

“The allocation of road space will need to change over time. This means Aucklanders cannot rely on the public realm for longer-duration storage of vehicles. Land use should provide for its own longer-duration storage of vehicles,” said the report to the planning committee.

Officers said the strategy will create challenges for car owners who buy properties without off-street parking or rely on the road to “store” cars, saying they need to be told they cannot rely on the streets for parking cars in the future.

An AT spokesman said it was generally not looking to make changes under level 1, but recognised that issues could unexpectedly emerge, such as demand exceeding 85 per cent, or a safety risk.

“If issues do emerge, there are a range of tools that can be implemented, including time limited parking, residential zones, and parking charges before we may consider parking removal.”

He said the Government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Design that removes the need for developers to provide parking on site creates extra risk under level 1.

“In these cases, we may need to manage demand, for example by implementing time limited parking,” the spokesman said.

Darby said the thrust of Thursday’s paper is to begin a discussion with Aucklanders about how to efficiently manage the road infrastructure to deliver things more quickly at a lower cost.

He said the focus was on arterial roads but there may be instances where side streets intersect with arterial roads.

Asked about giving AT the power to remove parking without public or Local Board consultation, Darby said that had been signalled but not was finalised.

Asked if he supported extra powers for AT in his own ward of the North Shore, he said: “We haven’t got that level of detail in the discussion document … we are far from seeing anything that resembles a strategy.”

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