Parking bump

Traffic backed up along Frankton Road

City Hall wants 1100 new carparks near Queenstown’s town centre – even as it works to boost public transport and get people out of the driver’s seat.

That’s almost doubled from the number it wanted last year, when it was looking for developers to build on Boundary Street and Ballarat St.

The massive increase is something of a U-turn for Queenstown’s council.

It’s spent years removing commuter parks from its council-owned carparks and downtown streets, in a bid to get people out of their cars and on to $2 buses to beat congestion.

But infrastructure boss Peter Hansby says the “community consistently tell us more parking is required” and analysis shows 1100 off-street, covered carparks within easy walking distance of the CBD are needed by 2022.

Chamber of Commerce boss Anna Mickell says it will be “awesome for businesses” but points out business owners are only calling for a parking boost because public transport, at the moment, isn’t up to the job.

“What they’re really saying, though, is we need to be able to get customers to our places of business efficiently.

“At the moment they see the only efficient way of doing that is the private vehicle, because other ones aren’t efficient and reliable enough.”

She’s ramping up efforts to sort out the resort’s public transport.

And, she says, she’s starting to get “quite stroppy”.

“Unless we get people out of cars and on to public transport, it will be gridlocked all the time.

“That’s why the Chamber’s spending all their time on public transport now, saying ‘this needs to improve, you need to do better’.”

She says Queenstowners need to realise the traffic problem isn’t going to get any better.

“When you’ve lived in cities with a parking problem, it gets better for a little while, and then it gets worse again if you keep driving cars.

“You’re always playing catch-up.”

Back in April, Hansby revealed a mass rapid transport option would be needed within 10 years.

More funding had been requested to investigate options further, including light rail, gondolas and trams.

In recent months, it’s quietly asked for expressions of interest to build the new parks. That’s after scrapping the previous process in December.

Unlike the initial registration of interest process, which identified 252 spaces on Boundary St and 350 on Ballarat St, the latest one requested detailed proposals from developers on alternative sites.

“All of those who registered an interest last year were directly contacted and invited to participate in this more detailed process,” Hansby says.

“Proposals were required to demonstrate how their solutions aligned with the Queenstown Town Centre Masterplan and Queenstown/Frankton Parking Strategy objectives and outcomes, and may include developments on council-owned land or privately-owned land.”

That tender process finished last week, and the council is now evaluating the bids.

Design work is already underway for the Boundary St carpark. The Ballarat St site won’t be used for carparking now. It’s earmarked for a community precinct, including a new council building, in a partnership with Ngai Tahu Property confirmed last month.

Councillor Alexa Forbes, who’s long advocated for getting people out of cars and on to public transport, says she’d like to see the majority of carparks removed from the town centre and instead put in parking buildings.

She acknowledges that some parks will need to remain, such as mobility parks, but “we shouldn’t be leaving cars all over the street”.