At Tuesday night’s council meeting the two most contentious applications (Belsize Avenue & Hamilton Street) got their permits – both voted in unanimously. Hyams and Esakoff moved and seconded motions for increased setbacks and full visitor parking spots. The requirement for Construction Management Plans was also ‘tightened’ in the face of much community backlash recently. The thrust of councillor arguments was that applications should be ‘compliant’ with ResCode – especially visitor car parking.

Ostensibly these resolutions sound reasonable and justified. However, when we look at the bigger picture, we can only wonder what on earth is going on. All of council’s published documents on traffic and parking reveal that what is likely to happen is a REDUCTION IN CAR PARKING REQUIREMENTS in our activity centres. We repeat the relevant page from the recently published Integrated Transport Strategy. Please note these ‘recommendations’:

  • explore a reduction in the statutory parking requirements for office use.
  • Where it is demonstrated a public parking availability is underutilised during the evenings, explore a reduction in the statutory parking requirements for these commercial uses.
  • allowing these commercial parking spaces to be shared by multiple users.

The writing’s on the wall! Council’s ‘parking’ strategy will include a REDUCTION in the current requirements. We will get parking overlays that will see waiver after waiver of both visitor and resident car parking or making the requirements for single, double, or triple bedroom places so minimal, that they amount to multiple waivers.

The relevance of councillors’ arguments on the Belsize Avenue and Hamilton Street applications become significant in the light of the above draft proposals. Both streets form part of the Carnegie and Bentleigh Activity Centre. Both are zoned Residential Growth Zone. Council’s consistent argument has been that shops can’t accommodate the necessary parking requirements, but neighbouring streets can. That means streets such as Hamilton and Belsize Avenue. So, if the eventual parking overlays adopt this approach and reduce the current regulations for offices, shops, and apartments, then these side streets will be chocka block full of parked cars.

Going a step further, we then have to ask, are the conditions placed on the Hamilton Street and Belsize Avenue permits nothing more than sheer hypocrisy and/or total ignorance by our councillors? For example, how can they in the same breath vote for a (draft) transport policy that REDUCES PARKING REQUIREMENTS, and also vote that applications in the activity centre ADHERE TO THE CURRENT SCHEDULE OF PARKING ‘STANDARDS’? Was all the chest thumping on Tuesday night nothing more than grandstanding? Will our local streets now become parking lots?