The Nelson City Council is pondering whether the CBD needs a multilevel carpark to add to its 1700 public spaces as it tries to figure out how to draw more people into the city centre.
“Access [to the city] has been an issue that has been raised with us and that is not going to be a quick fix,” says council’s group head of strategy and environment, Clare Barton.
It comes after a series of forums with retailers and landlords over the future of the CBD, as empty shopfronts continue to pop up.
“Currently we are looking at options and that might include multi-storey carparks,” Clare says.
However, council was also to look at ways of encouraging Nelsonians to think differently about the need for carparks. It had recently spoken with a residential developer from Wellington who was putting in central city apartments for 30 people, but with only four car parking spaces. Instead it was looking at offering four electric vehicles for its residents to use.
“We are looking at how we can encourage that kind of thinking,” Clare says.
Nelson has about 1,700 public parking spaces in the CBD area, although this number does vary, plus around a further 2800 spaces in the CBD fringe area.
Council undertakes quarterly sample surveys to provide parking occupancy data to ensure it is meeting its performance targets in this area. These targets are that there is between 85 per cent and 95 per cent occupancy for “long stay parking” and 95 per cent occupancy in the midweek peak in December for short stay parking.
Council surveys undertaken over the last two years show that much of the surveyed CBD parking is between 70 per cent and 90 per cent occupied at 1pm with an overall average of approximately 84 per cent regularly occupied at 1pm.
Clare says in the winter the carparking situation is fine.
“The issue is over the summer period with tourists does become a bit of bedlam but there is also an expectation in the community that they expect to park right outside the shop they want to go to.”
Uniquely Nelson’s Simon Duffy says there is a bigger picture than just parking.
“We have two of the largest car parks in the top of the South Island which takes up 15 per cent of CBD.”
“Why Nelson is or isn’t thriving is not about parking.”
He thinks people focus too much on it when really they just need to get used to not parking exactly outside the place they want to shop at.
“It’s not a deal breaker.”
Statistics provided by council show that fears Nelsonians were driving to Richmond rather than shopping in Nelson were not apparent.
In fact, the numbers of Nelsonians shopping in Nelson has remained fairly stable over the last few years. Online shopping had increased but not at the national rate
Clare says council is also looking at the bus terminal to see whether it might be moved outside the CBD to better cater to NMIT students.
“Do we even need it in the city centre and what does that look like?”