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Minimum car parking requirements to be chopped from new urban developments

By Anna Bensemann | Nov 06, 2020

Car parking requirements for new urban developments are due to be on the chopping block within 18 months under new planning provisions.

All district councils are required to remove any objective, policy, rule or method that imposes a minimum car parking requirement in accordance with the Governments Urban Development National Policy statement. This will see a move away from the standard two carparks per residential dwelling typically seen in urban zones and enable more land to be available for housing in medium density developments. It will also free up land occupied by maneuvering areas when vehicles are not allowed to reverse onto a street.

It is possible that councils determined to impose car parking minimums will find creative ways to effectively require onsite carparks. This could be through discounted development contributions when carparks are provided, or by considering the effect on traffic where any carparks are not provided but a resource consent is required.

In our larger well-connected cities and towns with good pedestrian and cycle networks and accessible public transport systems, reliance on cars is dwindling. The housing market demand for smaller sections and reduced car parking is generally accepted in these areas.

The restrictions are being removed in a broad brush manner to all districts that contain “urban environments”, and the removal of car parking requirements will not just be limited to residential activities. Shops, theatres, preschools, schools, businesses, supermarkets and big box retail outlets like Kmart and Mitre 10 will no longer have regulated car parking requirements.

So, where space is at a premium the provision of car parking could be slashed. Not providing car parking in some instances would be economic suicide for businesses, especially supermarkets, big-box retail outlets and the like who usually provide more than minimum requirements anyway, but individual project developers will be able to determine the required minimum amount to meet actual demand.

It’s going to be interesting going forward to watch new developments and see what developers think we need in the way of carparks. No doubt there will be instances where they get it wrong and those will be problematic legacies. However, we can only but hope those developing most of our new retail outlets are aware of actual demand and will aim to have a good level of service to meet their customer’s needs.

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 (NPS) is aimed at promoting and managing development for the next 30 years and car parking limits are only one tool targeted to assist development. It is perhaps the most direct and tangible provision in the NPS that will either be the great success story of the market led development or a prime example of what not to do to make successful developments in our urban environments.