Gosford City is facing a parking crisis, with uncertainty, confusion and congestion surrounding the city’s major car parks.
With the fate of the 400 free car parks atop Kibbleplex (formerly Marketplace) unclear, commuters already fed up with Gosford’s parking situation are concerned about the city’s lack of dedicated free parking.
The potential loss of the free Kibbleplex parking is not the end of Gosford’s parking woes, with commuters questioning the safety and useability of the Baker St car park, and outright dismissal of the free commuter parking opposite Gosford Train Station, which is nonexistent after 6am.
To make matters worse, with the controversial ATO building poised to begin construction on the waterfront, the political promise of 600 jobs may prove disastrous for commuters when an army of temporary workers and the building’s permanent staff descend on the city’s highly sought after parking spaces.
The ATO, which has already soured residents who believed the former Gosford School site was better suited to a Performing Arts Precinct, was revealed to have a shortfall of onsite parking for future employees. In June, the Joint Regional Planning Panel found that the ATO’s developer, Doma, would need to add 13 extra parking spaces for the public in Baker St. Despite the JRPP’s findings, it is unclear whether this will be enough to accommodate the dramatic increase in activity and traffic to and around the site, and according to former Gosford Councillor, Ms Vicki Scott, the ATO is not the only development in the city that has the potential to tip the parking issue over the edge.
Residents vs Commuters
Ms Scott said the CBD and the immediate surrounding areas of West Gosford, North Gosford, East Gosford and Point Frederick, are definitely facing a parking shortfall, and that residential developments approved, despite not providing adequate parking allocation, were to blame. “Parking issues are more than just availability of commuter parking. “Many of the residential developments that have been approved in the CBD and immediate surrounds are for two or three bedroom units, but the parking allocation has only been one per unit, not one spot per bedroom.
“So if a three-bedroom unit becomes share housing, one resident will have a car park within the development but where will the other two residents park? “They will be looking for spots on the street,” Ms Scott said. Ms Scott also said that the problem is already evident in areas like Point Frederick and East Gosford, where fl at buildings have come online and street parking is still an issue. “Although the former Gosford Council discussed and intended to come up with a CBD parking strategy, I have checked and there isn’t one. “There is nothing in place. “What will happen when all the big developments come online and what will happen to parking if they all start at the same time? “Where will the parking be?” Ms Scott questioned.
According to Ms Scott, during discussions with the former Gosford Council, she brought up issues of traffic and parking management multiple times, including: “The acceptance of a number of large developments in the CBD without having adequate parking for residents of those developments and others; cramped parking around developments in Point Frederick (Lynn Ave) and other sites in North and West Gosford; the lack of common sense in agreeing to allow developments of two and three bedroom apartment buildings to be constructed with only one car space per unit at best (Ms Scott said there was an expectation that people will walk or take the bus to the station); the narrow streets in some of these areas and the existing parking problem; and, consideration for the huge impact when the new developments are completed.
“I had suggested we should do a traffic management study for the area with these concerns in mind, but there appeared to be minimal interest in my concerns,” Ms Scott added. On the concerns surrounding Baker St car park, Ms Scott said the former council had endeavoured to add more floors onto the car park but said there were issues with the building being able to support extra fl oors and that she was unsure as to whether or not any further action surrounding Baker St car park occurred after the initial idea tanked. However,
Ms Scott said she could understand commuter concerns over the safety of using Baker St car park, especially after hours. Ms Scott also said that aside from the future of Kibbleplex, no other discussion took place amongst the former Gosford Council in regards to parking in the CBD and that despite her own questions about the future of parking in Gosford City, there has been no satisfactory response. The issue is further complicated by the interrelation of parking as a social issue and a State Government responsibility. “There is an element of responsibility for the State Government in this. “Rail transport, as a form of commuter travel, is the responsibility of the State Government and there is some expectation that that government takes an active interest in the problem. “However, socially, it is seen as a Local Government matter, and the public expects Local Government to play a part in it as well.
“To my knowledge, there were no plans or strategies discussed between the last council and the State Government to address the issues of commuter parking,” Ms Scott said. “I hope the current council takes these concerns and acts on them before any more development is approved. “The city CBD and the surrounding suburbs is a small area. “The CBD has three streets taking the traffic through it. “These streets are cramped between a mountain and the water. “There is no apparent way to solve the problem, and increased parking demand is just exacerbating it.
“The fact that the DA for the ATO was allowed without sufficient parking is also going to exacerbate the problem,” Ms Scott continued. “I don’t know what the council can do about this, but it certainly seems that the Federal and State Governments are failing in their responsibilities in this matter. “I think, if the commuter car parking at Kibbleplex is stopped without a solution from the State and the council, and the ATO and other developments are actually built, car parking in the CBD, including commuter car parking, will be a disastrous problem that will take far too long to solve, if ever,” Ms Scott concluded. continued…