Councils criticise push for apartments without parking-->
By Leesha McKenny
Originally published: Sydney Morning Herald online, September 26 2014, 7:14am.
Communities would end up paying the price for apartments without parking, says the umbrella group for the state's councils, which has branded the state government proposal "a cross between a developer's dream and a planning delusion".
Local Government NSW president Keith Rhoades has challenged Planning Minister Pru Goward's claim that more flexibility around parking requirements would better reflect changing consumer preferences.
The proposed new apartment design guidelines would allow multi-unit dwellings within 400 metres of railway stations to be built without parking in 22 Sydney council areas – a measure the minister said could cut up to $50,000 from the cost of a unit.
A planning department spokeswoman said some councils, such as the City of Sydney, Waverley and North Sydney, already do not require any car parks to be built.
However, Mr Rhoades said the "ill-thought policy" would not be confined to inner-city areas well serviced by public transport, but was to be extended to "middle suburbia" areas like Ryde and Bankstown, where it was harder to commute in multiple directions by train.
"The proposed policy is a cross between a developer's dream and a planning delusion," Mr Rhoades said. "More units will mean more cars, increased traffic movements and a greater demand for public parking."
"Ultimately this policy will turn private costs into public costs, as it will be councils left to deal with increased on-street parking."
The City of Ryde said it was concerned by the proposed change, which would have a "significant impact" as there were seven railway stations in its council area.
Strathfield's mayor Daniel Bott said council agreed with putting apartments near railway stations but "no parking is way over the top".
"You've still got to have some parking, people still drive," he said.
Willoughby mayor Gail Giles-Gidney said the "poorly worded" changes that were intended to encourage the use of public transport could also allow the exact opposite to occur.
"A developer can provide no car parking, but they can also provide multiple car parking spaces per apartment. That is, there is no maximum car parking limit," Cr Giles-Gidney said.
"This is a significant error in the drafting of the policy and council will be making a submission to seek a review of the clause."
Others, such as Parramatta City Council, did not expect to be affected by the proposed requirements.
"Our planning policies already restrict the number of parking spaces in apartment complexes, particularly those in our CBD which is well serviced by public transport," a council spokesman said.
"We have found the policy has been well accepted as CBD apartment dwellers generally have fewer or no cars and less need for parking."
Labor's planning spokesman Luke Foley said developers should be urged to "embrace intelligent parking solutions" such as car stackers.
"This could deliver gains in both areas," Mr Foley said. "That is, a reduction in the cost of apartments, but without a mass migration of apartment-dwellers' cars to surrounding streets."
Greens MP David Shoebridge said if developers were to get the benefit of reduced parking requirements "they must face the burden of delivering the additional facilities needed in response".
"Removing the requirement for parking spaces can produce more sustainable housing but only if it is coupled with improved public transport, car share facilities, bike storage and active transport links," Mr Shoebridge said.
A spokesman for Ms Goward said councils were consulted in the development of the proposals, which were now on exhibition for a month.
"It is ultimately up to councils how many street parking permits they give out per dwelling, and it is timely for a discussion to take place about what is sustainable and reasonable," he said.
Originally published as: Councils criticise push for apartments without parking