The Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce wants ‘‘urgent progress’’ on CBD parking improvements.

The chamber submitted on Queenstown council’s draft parking strategy on behalf of its 600-plus local businesses, noting the current state of affairs in Queenstown’s CBD’s having a ‘‘significant negative impact’’ on members’ businesses, ‘‘and it is getting progressively worse’’.

The council’s strategy notes delivering parking solutions will help resolve some issues, but there also needs to be ‘‘practical transport alternatives’’.

Council’s still working with Otago Regional Council and NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi on those, aiming to encourage the use of other modes of travel, or reduce the need to travel at all.

However, the Chamber’s submission, prepared by CEO Sharon Fifield and chair Angela Spackman, says while they support improving public transport, ‘‘in our current reality, we do not have the luxury of a fit-for-purpose public transport system’’.

‘‘At the same time, hundreds of carparks have been removed from the Queenstown CBD without replacement, causing frustration for businesses, locals, workers and visitors trying to get access to the CBD.’’

The Chamber, concerned the parking strategy timeline shows ‘‘no action or improvement’’ till August, is now calling for City Hall to get moving.

They’re asking council to provide as much parking as possible on top of the Ballarat/Stanley St site, being used as a construction laydown area to support the first stage of the new arterial road, as space becomes available.

They also want fast-track consents to allow available land, suitable for parking, to be used quickly, such as the Wilson Parking NZ proposal for the corner of Frankton Rd and Brisbane St, which Mountain Scene revealed last week.

Additionally, they suggest the Boundary Rd campervan and bus parks could be used by cars when not in use, while a park-and-ride could be set up for campervans on the fringes of the CBD, or at Frankton or Queenstown Airport.

And while the council’s strategy refers to trialling ‘‘innovative parking methods’’, it’s not clear what that means, the Chamber’s submission says.

‘‘So, as an idea, explore and trial differential parking rates for locals/workers (number plate recognition) to incentivise our locals back into town.’’

A total of 188 submissions were received on the strategy — the feedback’s to be reviewed and incorporated into the draft strategy, to be adopted by council in May.

Parks removal ‘goes against masterplan’

Five years after council sought expressions of interest to build 1100 additional off-street, covered carparks, near Queenstown’s CBD, we instead appear to have lost hundreds.

The Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce submission on council’s draft parking strategy notes their removal appears to go against Queenstown’s ‘town centre masterplan’.

Endorsed by the council, NZ Transport Waka Kotahi and Otago Regional Council, it states the masterplan will ‘‘deliver improved parking
supply and management through the introduction of new parking buildings on the town centre fringes’’.

That initially included a 350-space carpark on the Ballarat St Project Manawa site.

However, that’s ‘‘been removed without consultation as became apparent in the recent consultation on Project Manawa’’, the Chamber’s submission says.

The way it was: The former Ballarat St carpark

It’s the second of two planned parks which appear to have been parked in recent years.

In 2018, council began looking for private investors to fund two proposed buildings — the one at Project Manawa and a building for about 240 vehicles, which got consent, at Boundary Rd.

Then, in 2019, Mountain Scene reported the council quietly asked for expressions of interest to build 1100 off-street, covered carparks, within easy walking distance of the CBD.

But in 2021, as City Hall was about to shut down its 120-odd space Ballarat St park ‘‘temporarily’’, for use as a construction laydown area,
Scene revealed the Boundary Rd park — priced about $28 million — was ‘‘on hold’’, primarily due to cost.

At that time, the late Pete Hansby, council’s property and infrastructure manager, accepted there was a need for ‘‘interim-type parking’’ for the next few years.

He told Scene at that time parks removed from the town centre due to capital projects, like the CBD street upgrade project, would be replaced with off-street facilities.

He further stated he believed ‘‘the net impact should be nil’’.

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