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Newtown Parking Plan Approved In Principle

Community feedback has led to some significant changes to the draft Newtown Parking Management Plan, which was considered and approved in principle by Councillors yesterday (30 November).

The draft plan – which is designed to better manage parking pressures – will determine who can park where in residential streets in Berhampore and Newtown, and for how long.

Kōrau Tūāpapa, Wellington City Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Committee yesterday endorsed a number of recommended changes.

The community will get another opportunity to have a say on the finer details when the traffic changes (resolutions) to implement the revised draft plan are advertised early next year. Final decisions on the plan will be made in March 2024.

Changes made to the draft plan in response to feedback from local residents, hospital staff and health and social service organisations in the area include:

· making changes Monday to Friday only, rather than 7 days a week, so people will be able to park where they want for as long as they want on weekends as they do now

· changing the proposed P120 parking spaces to P180 so people can park for up to three hours (8am to 8pm) instead of two without a residents parking permit

· delaying putting plans in place in Newtown east (the hospital side of the suburb) until mid-2025 to allow more time to monitor how the scheme is working in Berhampore and Newtown west and make further modifications if required.

The Committee agreed that subject to legal advice, there will be a 50 percent discount on the cost of resident parking permits (which are currently $195 a year) for people with community services cards, and that they will be free for people with mobility parking permits.

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Council staff will also liaise with Wellington Regional Hospital to investigate leasing 50 to 60 on-street car parks on the hospital side of Mein Street for exclusive use by hospital staff as a transitionary solution. This would go some way to assisting the estimated 90 or staff expected to be affected by parking changes planned next year.

The hospital is continuing to implement its travel action plan to lower the percentage of staff travelling by car, and is investigating ways to increase parking supply for patients, visitors and staff.

Metlink Principal Advisor Network Design Alex Campbell outlined good news about public transport including a new high frequency bus route with very early morning services that will link Strathmore, Wilton and Northland via Newtown, providing more travel options for hospital workers from the east and west from 18 December.

The hospital express bus service from the railway station is running and will have additional popular services reinstated now wider issues with driver shortages and bus cancellations across the city have been almost completely resolved.

Wellington city has had residents parking schemes for many years in places including Mt Cook and Mt Victoria, but this is the first suburb-wide parking plan developed to implement the city’s new Parking Policy adopted in 2020.

Acting Committee Chair Councillor Tim Brown says he believes thorough consultation has resulted in a good outcome and excellent draft plan.

“The 2020 Parking Policy gives clear guidance about how resident parking schemes like this one should be structured in future and how permits will be allocated. It also provides leeway to tailor parking plans to suit different communities, which is what we have been endeavouring to do here.”

Councillor Brown thanked the more than 1150 people and organisations who provided feedback during the recent consultation, and those who shared their thoughts in person and online a couple of weeks ago.

“We listened to what people who live in these communities, and people who work and provide essential health and social services, think about the parking proposal. Then, in discussion with staff, made some significant changes that better balance different needs.

“The decisions we’ve made will allow the revised parking plan to proceed to the next stage. It is important for residents to understand that they will have another opportunity to provide feedback on the finer details, and further changes could still be made,” Councillor Brown says.

The changes to parking time limits and days of operation agreed were made in response to concerns from the community. They were also in line with requests from organisations including Wellington Regional Hospital, Mary Potter Hospice, University of Otago School of Medicine, several churches and other faith-based organisations, and Wellington Zoo which sought slightly longer-stay parking for visitors.

The staged roll-out and later implementation of parking changes in the Newtown east area are in line with requests received from many parties associated with Wellington Regional Hospital, which asked that no change be made to parking controls in the Newtown east area until after the bike, bus and walking connection between Newtown and Island Bay is complete.

The parking plan aims to help relieve existing parking pressures as well as the impacts of car park removal planned as part of the Berhampore to Newtown walking, bike and bus improvement project. Councillors will consider whether to proceed with the proposed improvements to this route at a meeting of Koata Hātepe, the Regulatory Processes Committee on 13 December.

Following any final amendments to the parking plan in March, installation of new signs is expected start in the west of Newtown and Berhampore from April so the new parking arrangements in those areas can be in operation by mid next year.

The parking plan will mean residents who choose to apply for a parking permit and are eligible to get one should find it easier to find parking on a street near their home. The new plan should also make it easier to find short-stay parking spaces.

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