Wilson deterred by planning problems

21/05/2008 - 22:00

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Despite an ongoing shortage of car bays in the Perth CBD, national parking operator Wilson Parking is reducing its footprint in the city, having failed to secure approvals from the City of Perth.

Wilson deterred by planning problems
Time to Talk: National carpark operator Wilson Parking has called for a third party to mediate applications for car parks in Perth.

Despite an ongoing shortage of car bays in the Perth CBD, national parking operator Wilson Parking is reducing its footprint in the city, having failed to secure approvals from the City of Perth.

Two of Wilson's car parks have closed down during the past six months - one on Hill Street in Perth, the other at Parker Street in Northbridge.

The latter was operated by Wilson for five years before its planning approval was turned down by the City of Perth earlier this year.

The company's most recent setback came last week, when the City of Perth council rejected an application for a new 36-bay longstay car park at 1143 Hay Street, on the corner of Havelock Street in West Perth.

According to the city's planning committee, Wilson's application was rejected because it didn't enhance the amenity of the area, despite the city's planning department having recommended the project go forward.

Wilson Parking Australia chief executive (parking), Craig Smith, said in a statement that a third party was needed to assess applications from parking providers.

"We believe that it is necessary for an independent body to regulate parking practices in Perth," Mr Smith said.

"We don't see any benefit to the general public by allowing a situation to continue whereby the approving authority in the CBD and surrounds is also a key player in the industry." Wilson, which operates 18 car parks in the Perth CBD and West Perth, claims the city is also in violation of the Perth parking policy, in capping short-term rates at its car parks, which encourages people to stay longer.

It's a view firmly rejected by City of Perth parking committee chairman, Michael Sutherland.

"We've been putting up our shortterm rates in some car parks, to free up the short-stay bays.

We've actually hiked up our rates at His Majesty's, Pier Street and several others," Mr Sutherland said.

"We've also got data which shows that the use of the Mandurah railway line has freed up bays as well." City of Perth chief executive officer Frank Edwards said the city provided a service in competition with businesses in other sectors, such as childcare and waste collection.

"Council has the right to conduct business, and in car parking we're one of the few cities that hasn't sold off its asset," he said.

"The City of Perth cannot approve its own developments - it has to go to the WA Planning Commission - but it has a statutory obligation to approve all others." Wilson has also criticised the city for appealing a decision by EPRA to turn down a proposed car park on Wellington Street, which the company believes is also in violation of the parking policy.

Yet the city maintains it was within its rights to appeal the decision, because EPRA was taking too long to make a decision.

The dispute comes at a time when the Department for Planning and Infrastructure is in the process of updating the Perth parking policy.

Wilson has argued that the policy should be flexible, to determine short- and long-term parking limitations on a site-by-site basis.

The review is expected to be completed by the end of June.

The City of Perth operates a total of 34 car parks in the CBD and West Perth, compared to Wilson's 18.

The latter operates 200 car parks across Australia.

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