Bye Bye Parking Requirements (hello new rules and regulations...)
By Iain McManus
Auckland Council has amended the Auckland Unitary Plan (“AUP”) to remove minimum car parking requirements, as directed by the National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 (“NPS-UD”). As a consequence, developments can now be undertaken without providing any car parking. So, what can we expect to see over the next few years?
Local Authority Response
Auckland Council has signaled that it will notify a plan change in August 2022 to require accessible / mobility parking (the NPS-UD did not prohibit plans from requiring accessible parking). At present, there is no such requirement in the AUP.
The plan change is also likely to create new requirements for on-site bicycle (and possibly “micro-mobility” e.g. scooter) parking, electric vehicle charging, on-site pick-up, drop-off and loading, and pedestrian and emergency vehicle access.
So, the removal of parking requirements seems likely to be offset by the creation of other transport-related planning requirements.
For its part, Auckland Transport (“AT”) is currently reviewing its Parking Strategy to address potential adverse effects on the transport network.
AT released a discussion document in November 2021 which signaled that it would not be seeking to accommodate private parking on-street. The document states that:
“we propose that accommodating this “overspill” parking [from developments] should be the lowest priority use of kerb side space”
“people considering buying a house or renting a property will need to think carefully about their parking needs… as Aucklanders will not be able to rely on the road for overnight parking”.
[Auckland Transport, Parking in Auckland, November 2021, p13]
Nevertheless, the document also notes that Parking Management Plans will be developed in conjunction with local boards for some areas. This could lead to consolidation of parking within off-street public carparks in some locations.
A draft Parking Strategy is expected to be released for consultation in April 2022 for adoption mid-2022.
As far as I’m aware, there has been no public discussion yet re requiring financial or development contributions from developers who construct developments without parking (e.g. to generate funds for the public transport network or for the provision of communal paid parking to serve developments in certain locations) but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that proposed before long.
Implications for Developers
Developers will now have the ability to develop sites more intensively by developing without parking (or with less parking than has been required to date). This will improve the viability of developing some sites and the yield from others. However, developers will need to be careful to align parking provision with parking demand, to ensure that units sell or lease at the optimum price and within a reasonable timeframe.
The first few developers in an area may have an opportunity to externalize the provision of parking (i.e. rely on on-street parking to satisfy the parking demand from occupants) but this will become more difficult over time as demand for on-street parking increases and AT responds by imposing time limits and/or charges for on-street parking in more areas.
Implications for First Home Buyers and Tenants
First home buyers and tenants will eventually have increased opportunities to buy or rent a unit without the added cost of parking that they may not need. This will reduce costs for those who don’t own a car or are happy to take their chances with on-street parking.
Likewise, commercial tenants will have increased opportunities to lease premises without the added cost of parking (or with less parking-related cost). This will reduce overhead costs for some businesses.
Implications for Existing Residents and Businesses
In many areas (i.e. areas that required parking until these changes came into effect), residents and businesses can expect to see less parking created in conjunction with new developments. In addition, they can eventually expect to see some existing parking developed for other uses. This will lead to more demand for existing on-street parking which could make it more difficult for residents and their visitors, and staff and customers, to find on-street parking.
Implications for Previously Consented Activities
Previously consented activities will need to continue to comply with any consent conditions relating to parking, however, there may be scope for consent holders to apply to delete conditions requiring parking, in light of the new policy framework. This will need to be reviewed by consent holders and councils on a case by case basis. Other consent holders may be able to surrender existing consents if the activity can now operate without relying on the consent (i.e. is a permitted activity in all respects now that parking is not required).
Implications for Accessibility, City Form and the Environment
In theory, we will see public transport patronage increase over time, as parking becomes more difficult to find and more expensive due to its scarcity value. This should eventually lead to improvements to the public transport network in terms of coverage and frequency of service, making it easier to get around the city without a car and creating a more equitable environment for those who cannot drive or cannot sustain the costs of car ownership. While this is unlikely to lead to less pollution, it should lead to less pollution on a per capita basis.
We will eventually see a more intensive urban form, and possibly a more attractive urban form as well, as existing parking areas are redeveloped for other uses, and new developments are constructed with less parking than would otherwise have been the case, although good urban design will be key to the attractiveness of that more intensive form.
At the margin, the ability to use land more intensively is also likely to reduce the demand for land on the periphery of our cities (i.e. reduce urban sprawl). This should reduce the cost of providing infrastructure and community services and further contribute to the viability of public transport and improvements in accessibility.
We are likely to see the creation of more pedestrian and cycle-friendly environments irrespective of the policy as that is the direction of travel for AT regardless, however, the removal of parking requirements may hinder that transition, as the removal of on-street parking is likely to become more difficult (politically) with increased demand for that parking and more expensive if on-street parking needs to be replaced with off-street public parking areas.
We are likely to see greater use of time-restrictions for on-street parking as Council tries to discourage commuters and increase parking turnover, particularly in central locations, higher density areas and around town centres.
We are also likely to see greater use of pay parking for the same reason, and as Council tries to earn revenue to pay for the provision of off-street public parking areas that local boards are likely to call for in some areas.
We may see less congestion, but I doubt it. It seems just as likely we will see more congestion as drivers circulate, looking for an unoccupied space, particularly in the first few years following removal of the parking requirements.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like to review the implications of this change for your development or existing activity.