PCC backs car park plan

A BOLD plan to alleviate car parking problems in the Perth CBD has been approved by the Perth City Council.

At its October 10 meeting councillors voted to approve a $2.5 million proposal from Hodge & Collard architects to convert 161 St Georges Terrace to an eight-level, 306-bay car park.

The “L”-shaped site fronts both St Georges Terrace and Mercantile Lane.

There is concern Bible House, which fronts the Terrace, could be demolished, leaving the car park exposed to the street.

The car park is planned to be exclusively for long-term residential parking to serve inner city residential developments such as Kingsgate Apartments, Durham House and the Paragon CBD.

Council staff recommended the proposal be refused because it would have an adverse affect on traffic flow in streets adjacent to the site and the number of car bays proposed exceeded the maximum number of bays permitted on the site.

It also opposes the WA Government’s Perth Parking Policy that council signed last year.

The policy is designed to achieve a desirable level of car access and number of car parking bays in the city.

According to the policy, that part of Perth is designated for short-stay parking only.

Councillor Judy McEvoy moved that the car park proposal be approved, saying Perth had little residential car parking.

“A lot of the car use from this site would be on the weekend,” Mrs McEvoy said.

Councillor Lisa Scaffidi said the approval would send a message to developers that they could get away with not offering adequate car parking.

“I don’t believe people will be using this car park during off peak hours,” Mrs Scaffidi said.

Several councillors also believe residents will rent many of the car bays to office workers.

However, the application does highlight the problems faced by developers trying to convert some of the CBD’s office buildings to residential.

Heritage considerations sometimes rule out adding car parking.

Councillor Michael Sutherland said in many cases car parking provisions were a disincentive for developers.

“There’s a move to refurbish some of Perth’s C-grade office buildings for residential,” Mr Sutherland said.

“If we say developers have to put in parking for these refurbishments, the city will stagnate.”

– Michael Sutherland

“If we say developers have to put in parking for these refurbishments, the city will stagnate.”

Councillor Laurance Goodman said most new inner city residents tried to duplicate their suburban lifestyle and that usually involved space for the family car.

“We need to encourage people to live in the city,” Mr Goodman said.

“In the first instance it is worthwhile to encourage the use of the existing space.”

Mr Goodman said the conditions council was attaching to the approval were draconian but covered the problems highlighted by council officers.

Councillor Jennifer MacGill said the perception of poor parking in Perth was a problem for inner city residential developers.

“This site is one of very few that could accommodate a development of this type,” Mrs MacGill said.

“In this case, the developers of apartments without car parking have found them very hard to sell.”

Councillor Bert Tudori said some apartment developers were starting to realise the problem of not providing sufficient parking.

“If developers think there’s gold in them thar hills by setting up apartments without parking, they need to think again.”

Mrs Scaffidi said council should consider using its own car parks to meet the residential parking shortfall.

“We’re filling up our city with car parks, yet we’re in the business of parking,” she said.

Mrs McEvoy said council’s public car park system would need to be changed to cope with residential demand.

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