Lake Macquarie City Council parking strategy leads to more studies before timed, paid spaces introduced

Lake Macquarie City Council’s new parking strategy means timed and paid spaces could be introduced in the local government area’s town centres.

But the strategy has been criticised for stopping short of detailing specific ways problems in Lake Macquarie’s known parking hot-spots would be tackled, instead recommending nine traffic management studies be conducted – one for each major town centre.

While the strategy, adopted at Tuesday night’s council meeting, identified the introduction of time restrictions, “demand based” paid parking, in-ground sensors and line marking among the preferred methods, it did not set out which measures would be introduced at a given location.

Instead it listed town centres in order of priority, beginning with Charlestown, Cardiff and Toronto and finishing with Glendale and Mount Hutton, for traffic studies to be conducted from next financial year.

Warners Bay, Belmont, Morisset and Swansea filled out the middle of the list.

Mayor Kay Fraser said the plan sought to “make best use of the city’s public and private parking spaces, taking into account considerations such as convenience and accessibility for users and economic outcomes for local business”.

But Cr Kevin Baker said he was “disappointed” with the outcome given the amount of time spent developing the plan.

“All it’s really saying is we’ve got to do more strategies for each individual town,” he said.

Cr Jason Pauling took aim at the idea of introducing paid parking, saying it was a point of difference between Lake Macquarie and Newcastle.

“One thing I hate about Newcastle is the parking element,” he told the meeting.

Cr Brian Adamthwaite said the need for individual town centre strategies was “not surprising” and would ensure changes were relevant to each community.

Cr David Belcher said council needed to educate residents about parking changes and public transport options before anything was introduced.

The strategy highlighted 85 per cent occupancy in Lake Macquarie’s town centres as the ideal balance between parking being used and vacant spots being available.

Lake Macquarie Business president Kris Leck told the Newcastle Herald the chamber welcomed any strategy that brought businesses and customers or clients closer together.

He said the issue was not simply a matter of “providing lots of free parking”.

“It’s about implementing a strategy to best manage the parking that’s available,” he said.

“Parking availability is key for a significant number of people in Lake Macquarie who don’t have access to public transport.

“We absolutely support carefully considered town planning to facilitate a variety of options to connect customers with business.”

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