Newcastle paid parking heads west

MORE parking meters have been flagged for Newcastle West, under a plan to extend the city’s paid parking area.

Newcastle City Council has proposed installing 20 parking meters, covering more than 200 parking bays, in the area bounded by Hunter, Parry, Wood and Selma streets.

If approved next week, the extra meters could add up to $250,000 a year to the city’s coffers.

The plan comes as the council is implementing the first stage of its three-year paid parking expansion, which involves installing 75 parking meters in Newcastle West, mainly around Marketown and No. 2 Sportsground.

According to a council report, the extension was devised after several businesses complained about a lack of parking for customers.

The concerns of the businesses ‘‘focus on the inadequacies of the timed parking currently in place with many workers and parishioners of the adjacent Sacred Heart Church occupying the parking spaces for extended periods,’’ the council report said.

‘‘This is impacting on their business as customers ... are unable to find parking when shopping.’’

The council report said the advantages of the plan included ‘‘increased available funds for reinvestment back into the Newcastle city centre’’, and the ability to introduce a 15-minute free parking trial.

Potential problems include that it could impact on nearby residential areas, such as Wickham and Hamilton East, which are already clogged by all-day commuters who park in front of homes.

The report said the council would need to manage ‘‘the perception that paid parking is just a revenue grab’’.

‘‘The recommended extension of the Newcastle West paid on-street parking has the potential to increase council’s operating surplus by an average of $145,000 [a] year for the first three years, while the required loan to fund the purchase of the parking meters is being repaid,’’ the report said.

‘‘After this the annual expected operating surplus is expected to approximate $250,000 a year.’’

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