The aim of the strategy is to help direct any parking initiatives over the next 10 years. This is a high level strategy which looks at the parking trends in the district and details a series of proposed goals and the methods to achieve them.
You can read the New Plymouth Parking Strategy 2007-2017 online as HTML text or by downloading the PDFs.
Picture this: Driving into New Plymouth’s central area, finding a car park, and joining the many happy local and visitors enjoying the central city’s array of fantastic shops and busy cafes within a safe and vibrant environment.
It’s a very simple picture – and appropriate car parking is a big part of it!
That’s pretty much what one experiences now in New Plymouth’s central area, but could it be better? And what can we do to make sure we still see it for many years to come?
This is where the Parking Strategy comes in. This document has identified what the current situation is in the central area and what New Plymouth District Council needs to focus on for the benefit of both our residents and visitors.
The vision we have is of a simple, fair and reasonable parking regime which will support the social and economic well-being of New Plymouth. Ultimately, our goal is to improve the public’s access to the central city by making sure we are providing the parking that is needed in the places where it is needed.
It’s a simple goal, but one that is necessary for the continued vitality and vibrancy of New Plymouth’s central city – and one that this Council is committed to fulfilling.
Peter Tennent Mayor
Return to top
The development, distribution and ongoing management of parking is one of several key elements needed in successfully planning and providing for growth and development of the New Plymouth district.
As part of its commitment to facilitating and supporting that growth, New Plymouth District Council has prepared this Strategy as a framework for how it will provide for and manage carparking in the next ten years.
The Strategy encompasses all parking within the district including publicly and privately owned, central city, suburban and rural town centre parking. The nature of parking is however such that a reasonable proportion of the Strategy focuses on the central city where the provision and management of parking is of primary interest to the community.
Preparation of the Strategy has included workshops and consultation with all sectors of the community. As there is no single best policy for parking, this input has been essential in ensuring the vision, goals and methods match the community’s values. A detailed Options Report was subsequently prepared and the contents of the Strategy chosen from that.
The general essence of the Strategy for parking in the next ten years is based on:
This document contains some background to the present and forward delivery of parking in New Plymouth and then provides a hierarchy of a vision, strategic goals, and individual methods. Together, these will ensure consistent and structured decisions can be made to improve parking in the district.Return to top
New Plymouth’s Parking Strategy is one of several documents that contribute to the management of parking. At a high level, the contents of the Strategy are guided by the Land Transport Management Act, the Local Government Act, and the Resource Management Act. At a local level, the District Plan, Community Plan, Bylaws and Roading Asset Management Plan all need to be consistent with the Strategy.
The 2004 Roading Asset Management Plan provides the most detailed parking policy to date, with its mission statement being:
“To provide a safe and efficient roading system and well managed parking areas in commercial zones all of which safeguard our community and contribute towards the economic and social development of the District”.
The Roading Asset Management Plan goes on to give a definition for the purpose of parking, which is “to provide controlled parking facilities to support access to commercial, recreational, and cultural facilities by drivers and passengers”.
Overall, parking is a key component of an effective transport system, particularly in servicing commercial areas. For New Plymouth’s shops and businesses to continue to attract shoppers and visitors, there needs to be sufficiently attractive parking to enable convenient access. To a lesser degree of convenience, staff also need to have access to parking in a manner that does not create an impediment or obstacle to their travel to work.
A good parking regime ultimately contributes to seamless and convenient movement throughout the district. Return to top
In order to plan for the future of New Plymouth, it is necessary to review the recent past, and to consider how those patterns are likely to continue in the future.
Analysis of population, employment, median income and retail sales in the last 15 years have all shown a similar pattern. The late 1990’s were characterised by a drop in New Plymouth’s population and employment rate, and slow growth in median income and sales relative to the rest of New Zealand. By comparison, the last five or so years have exhibited a marked reversal with some of the strongest economic growth in the country.
Attitudes toward the availability of parking have also changed during this time with a gradual decrease in community satisfaction, as recorded in the annual Communitrak Survey. A subsequent increase in the 2007 results reflects the changes in parking fees which have led to a high level of vacancy. However, the current satisfaction rate of 56% remains less than the peer group average of 62%.
Parking surveys undertaken in 2000 and 2006 provide an indication of how the provision and use of parking in the central area is changing. During this time, the number of public and private parking spaces in the central area increased by 5% to 8,970, although the most recent 2006 surveys found many under-utilised public and private carparks.
Looking forward, recent trends and the general views and outcomes of the consultation process suggest that the next ten years in New Plymouth will involve the following:
These trends are generally seen as acceptable and positive with the possible exception of professional practices and some retailers shifting away from the central area. To this end, there will be advantages to improving the present parking regime so as to make the central area more attractive for these activities than alternative locations. Overall though, the existing parking supply is expected to be sufficient for the next ten years, provided it is managed appropriately. Return to top
Throughout consultation, several key themes emerged as important to the community of New Plymouth.
They included the need for parking that retains the positive aspects of living in New Plymouth, such as the ease of movement from one destination to the next. It is also clear that the economic success of the district, and particularly the existing commercial areas, needs to be supported by the parking regime.
Three key values sitting alongside these themes are the need for:
These themes and values have then been pulled together to define a vision for parking in New Plymouth which is: A simple, fair and reasonable parking regime which will support the social and economic well-being of New Plymouth.
Achieving the vision of the Strategy involves a number of strategic goals and methods. These can be broadly split into five categories:
In this context, efficiency relates to the provision, distribution, and use of parking assets. Economics relates to the overall revenues and expenses associated with public parking and the resulting return on the Council’s investments. Service covers the issues that are immediately confronted by users, such as the simplicity of the regime and the attractiveness of the parking provision.
Environment broadly covers the contribution parking can play in avoiding adverse effects on the natural environment as well as the positive contribution that can be made to the built environment. Safety includes the interaction between vehicles and pedestrians in particular.
Four strategic goals are set for achieving efficiency in the parking regime:
Goal 1: Optimise the use of available resources to achieve an efficient parking regime. Goal 2: Give priority to shoppers and visitors. Goal 3: Ensure sufficient availability of commuter parking within reasonable proximity to main work places. Goal 4: Ensure a range of choices exists for users to balance convenience with charges.
The methods to achieve these goals are:
Method 1: Give priority to short stay shopper and visitor parking in the central core. A key aspect to providing this priority is allocating premium parking spaces for short stay use. In this sense there needs to be sufficient non-commuter parking (time-limit of three hours or less) to accommodate the demands of shoppers and visitors.
Method 2: Manage the adverse effects of commuter parking on residential streets. New Plymouth has a substantial resource available in residential streets on the fringe of central area within a ten minute walk of many workplaces. Utilising this asset does however require some control to ensure pockets of time restricted parking are available for use in conjunction with the residential activities.
Method 3: Review the District Plan requirement for on-site parking in the central area. The 2006 surveys found that even at peak times, approximately 10Ha of land within the central area remained unutilised as vacant parking areas. A more efficient use of land resources could be achieved if the Council adopted the approach used in other cities, where there are no requirements for parking within the defined central core, and the Council instead collect a targeted rate to cover the parking costs. The increased rates are offset by the ability to fully develop sites. As well as the collective efficiency, new businesses also benefit from reduced redtape.
In the event that such a Plan Change was implemented in New Plymouth, the community could anticipate a gradual increase in urban density and vibrancy, with an associated slow increase in the need for the Council to ensure sufficient parking is available.
Mehtod 4: Regularly survey parking patterns. Surveys provide the ability for the Council to review the performance of its parking management against the objectives of the Strategy. They also provide an early warning of changes in use that may require changes to the Strategy.
Method 5: Develop a parking enforcement policy.In order for an efficient parking regime to operate as intended, it is necessary to apply an appropriate level of enforcement to ensure compliance with time limits and parking fees.
A successful enforcement programme recognises that parking turnover is essential for an economically viable business district. Parking enforcement is however often viewed negatively and so needs to be guided by clear priorities with methods that achieve the overall vision of the Parking Strategy, without appearing to be overly aggressive. The Council will therefore develop an enforcement policy to guide the day to day work of enforcement staff.
Method 6: Ensure parking rules are legally robust.Successful enforcement also requires a robust legal context. The Council will therefore investigate and confirm the legal context of all the parking rules enforced by the Council and/or marked on the roads. This may include reviewing the draft New Zealand Standard Model General Bylaws Part 25 - Traffic, and ensuring the various resolutions are properly catalogued.
Method 7: Review options to optimise the provision and use of taxi, bus, and loading zones.Part of operating a cohesive transport network is enabling ready access for taxis, buses and delivery vehicles in the central area. These do however occupy kerbside areas that could otherwise be used for shopper parking and do not provide any revenue back to the Council.
Several options exist to address these two matters, and to provide a better level of service to users. These include establishing a ‘taxibank’ in a non-premium location and providing space for the shared use by taxis, delivery vehicles and buses, especially during hours when buses are not operating.Return to top
A single strategic goal has been set for economics, which is to:
Goal 5: Ensure the costs of providing parking are apportioned in a manner that encourages shoppers and visitors into New Plymouth’s established commercial areas.
This goal was selected with careful consideration as to the need for the Council to subsidise parking, with the general view that while userpays would be ideal, parking charges should not be increased to an extent, or at a rate, which discourages people from travelling to the existing commercial areas.
The methods to achieve the goal are:
Method 8: Set total parking charges at a level acceptable to the community. The Council has some $15.3m worth of parking assets requiring annual operating expenditure of $1.9m. Achieving a standard 12% return on the investment would require a net return of $1.8m, or a gross revenue of $3.8m.
The Council does not currently receive that level of revenue. Achieving the strategic goal requires acknowledging that some level of subsidy will continue to be necessary. In this instance, acceptability of parking charges is based on how they will affect peoples choices to visit the commercial areas.
Method 9: Set differential parking charges to achieve efficient utilisation of carparks. The relatively sharp increases in parking charges introduced in 2006 resulted in an initial shift in parking patterns as users left prime central carparks empty, preferring cheaper or free parking spaces further from their destinations. While users have slowly returned to the central area, the Council considers it important to set parking charges in a manner that encourages a good level of utilisation.
Method 10: Calculate the cost of providing parking annually. There is a common misconception that the Council makes a lot of money from parking. This is not the case, with a subsidy in the order of $0.9m per annum provided at present. Ensuring transparency, and providing a basis for economic decisions will both be improved by an annual calculation of asset values, revenue and expenditure.
Method 11: Progressively implement new technology. Despite decades of good service from individual parking meters, new opportunities in parking technology enable both improved functionality for users, reduced operating costs, and improved compliance with parking charges, therefore reducing the rates burden.
Pay and display is fast emerging as the preferred on-street technology, for the following reasons:
Overall, by pursuing pay and display options, the Council can expect enforcement and overall operating costs to reduce. At the same time, compliance, and therefore revenue will improve without actually increasing any fees or charges. To be economically sensible, the benefits of increased net revenue will need to be considered alongside the implementation costs.Return to top
Two strategic goals have been set for ensuring a good service is provided to carpark users:
Goal 6: Ensure users understand and value the available parking resources.Goal 7: Provide users with fair access to parking resources that match their needs.
The methods to achieve these goals are:
Method 12: Ensure time limits are simple with respect to the number of limits used and where they are applied.While being important to ensure a good balance between turnover and efficient use (high occupancy), time limits have an overriding need to be simple and understandable. That is, drivers need to know where to go to find the type of parking space appropriate for their purpose.
Apart from a limited number of P5 spaces, loading zones, taxi stands and bus stops, central areas can function well with just three or four time limits, such as:
The decision as to affording priority to shoppers needs to be considered when setting limits. Three hours is generally recommended as the maximum for shopper parking as four hours is too easily abused by commuters who can “re-feed the meter” at lunchtime.
Method 13: Ensure parking charges are simple and consistent.Like the time limits, simple application of parking charges can contribute to a good level of service. If drivers have a ready understanding of what charges are applied where, they can choose a parking location appropriate to their visit.
In this regard, it is common to charge an hourly rate for off-street carparks which is roughly half that for on-street carparks. Premium on-street parking spaces, such as on Devon Street, could sustain an even higher charge to demarcate it as a high turnover area for short stay users. Similarly, off-street commuter carparks further away from the central area could have an even lower charge, if not free.
Such an approach is subtly different from simply charging more at locations of high demand, as simple economics would suggest, and focuses on ensuring the public can and do easily understand the system.
Method 14: Provide a high standard of signage for carparks.A continued key aspect of providing good service to carpark users is to help them find a parking space appropriate for their purpose. A simple system would use static signs that point toward the carpark from the arterial roading network, with an indication of the size of the carpark (in number of spaces) and the time limit allowed.
Proper signage and markings are then also needed inside the carparks to show clearly the circulation routes, meter locations, and details of fees and time limits.
A more sophisticated system that achieves high occupancy rates with a good level of service includes variable message signs connected to counters in the carparks which then show how many spaces are still vacant in each carpark. Drivers are then guided by this system to use an appropriate carpark, therefore quickly finding a convenient space. These will be considered as part of improving signage.
Method 15: Provide an adequate supply of accessible parking spaces in the commercial areas in consultation with CCS.There is a relatively small proportion of New Plymouth’s community for whom the private car is the only real transport choice due to their limited personal mobility. For these people to participate fully in society it is necessary for them to have access to readily available parking spaces within very close proximity to their destinations, and to a standard which enables them to get in and out of their cars easily.
These are typically referred to as ‘accessible parking spaces’. An increasing number of elderly people in the district will lead to a gradual increase in the number of accessible parking spaces needed in the next ten years.Return to top
Part of achieving the vision of the strategy is consideration of the natural and built environment, with the following strategic goal:
Goal 8: Ensure the parking regime complements wider environment focused policies.
The methods to achieve this goal are:
Method 16: Balance parking with landscaping in areas where physical and social appeal should be enhanced.Parking areas can be unattractive but may be balanced by careful landscaping and reducing parking in areas of high social use, such as residential streets or ‘café culture’ streets.
Method 17: Develop an on-street dining policy.As New Plymouth’s provision of cafes and restaurants further develops, there is likely to be growing demand for outdoor dining opportunities. Converting parking spaces into dining areas can contribute to the overall attraction and vibrancy of the central area.
There are however a number of principles that may help to guide such conversions, including:
These issues will be addressed in an on-street dining policy.
Method 18: Provide secure and attractive cycle parking to meet demand. While many questions relating to travel demand management are currently being addressed by the New Plymouth Strategic Transport Study, it is already clear from the New Plymouth Cycling Strategy that there is a need for good cycle parking to encourage this environmentally-friendly travel mode.
Method 19: Monitor demand for a park and ride facility for commuters and shoppers. Park and ride facilities contribute to a sustainable transport network by utilising otherwise available land for parking and reducing the overall number of cars travelling in and out of the central area. Okato Bus Lines currently operate a weekly park and ride service targeted at elderly people who prefer not to drive into the central area.
Extending the service to cater for commuters and shoppers in general would provide good environmental outcomes, but is unlikely to be feasible before 2017. Demand for such a service will therefore be monitored and investigations into providing the service made at the appropriate time.Return to top
The fifth aspect to the Strategy is safety, for which the following strategic goal has been derived:
Goal 9: Ensure the parking regime is focused on safety, particularly with regard to pedestrians.
The methods of achieving this goal are:
Method 20: Review the dimensional standards of the Roading Code of Practice and District Plan. Safe parking standards have been well researched by others and documented in publications such as AS/NZS2890, the joint Australia/New Zealand standard for carparking. The Code of Practice and District Plan will therefore be reviewed to ensure their standards are safe and appropriate. This will include reviewing standards for accessible parking spaces.
Method 21: Conduct regular analysis of parking related crashes. Such crashes include vehicles entering or leaving carparks, parked vehicles being hit, passengers opening doors into the path of cyclists, and pedestrians or drivers having their view obscured by parked vehicles.
Analysis will then include:
Once existing crash rates are established, the Council will set achievable and publicly acceptable targets.Return to top
Overall, the adoption of this Strategy provides a clear framework for future decisions relating to parking.
Together with the community, the Council has established a vision and a set of nine strategic goals which will guide decision making. The 21 specific methods each represent areas of improvement where the actions taken by the Council will contribute to achieving the vision of the Strategy.Return to top