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The MRCagney Blog

MRCNZ15: Rethinking Parking

Tue, October 30, 2018  |  Parking 

In our first blog on parking (an issue close to our hearts) Anthony writes about two groundbreaking city-shaping parking projects in Auckland we have worked on. 

Parking is one of the most land-hungry uses of land in any city, and governments and businesses all around the world have long grappled with the many tensions that arise from parking, such as whether enough parking has been provided to support businesses in town centres, whether developments are providing enough parking, and whether pricing parking would scare shoppers away in the face of big malls. 

MRCagney has been at the coalface of parking reform alongside many different Councils which have been confronted with these issues and are seeking solutions to make parking work better for citizens, communities and businesses alike. MRCagney has had the pleasure to be involved with two groundbreaking city-shaping parking projects in Auckland, that has paved the way for more efficient land use and stronger economic activity in Auckland’s centres. In 2012 and 2013, we partnered with Auckland Council to provide an economic assessment of minimum parking requirements in Auckland, recognising the potential perverse consequences of the oversupply of parking that artificially suppressed the price of parking, whilst increasing the opportunity and financial costs of development activity as land that could otherwise have been used for productive development was instead diverted to parking. This project provided the impetus for Council to recommend a comprehensive removal or reduction in parking minimums in its centres and high-density residential areas in its Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan. We were subsequently engaged to provide expert economic and transport evidence for the Section 32 report in support of the Unitary Plan parking provisions as well as the hearings on the Unitary Plan. 

In the face of opposition from ‘big business’ who didn’t like the status quo parking regime disrupted, we were also engaged by Auckland Council to provide expert transport economics evidence to defend the Unitary Plan’s removal of parking minimums in centres at the Environment Court, which were being appealed by large big box retail groups. Together with Auckland Council, we eventually reached a compromise, whereby retail activities in centres were exempt from parking minimums if they were located on smaller sites or were subject to other features such as key retail frontages. This is a big deal as it means smaller retailers (which account for the majority of retail activity in Auckland) no longer have to worry about the burden of supplying parking (which they may not even need) in our town centres. 

Another key aspect of parking reform in Auckland that we have influenced is the development of Comprehensive Parking Management Plans (CPMP) for town centres, including for Panmure, Henderson, Ōtāhuhu, and Onehunga. Under the guidance of the leading Auckland Transport Parking Strategy, these CPMPs assess current parking conditions and make recommendations for the reform of management practices to better prioritise short-stay parking to support local retail activity, rather than providing long-term parking for staff or commuters. In conjunction with Panuku Development Auckland, our CPMPs also evaluate whether existing parking resources in the centres are underutilised and make recommendations for divestment where we think the land could be better reutilised to boost opportunities for much needed housing and local economic development. 

It is clear our constant advocacy and involvement in parking reform paid dividends for Auckland. MRCagney is immensely proud of its long history and experience in helping to improve parking outcomes for Auckland, which has led to a better use of land, stronger business centres, and a paradigm shift in industry thinking on parking policy and management.