Residents near Sacred Heart Cathedral consider VCAT appeal over lack of parking at Aspire Precinct

Max Turner and Alan Ellis are among the nearby residents who say parking near Sacred Heart Cathedral will become more of a problem when the Aspire Precinct is complete. Picture: GLENN DANIELS
Max Turner and Alan Ellis are among the nearby residents who say parking near Sacred Heart Cathedral will become more of a problem when the Aspire Precinct is complete. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

A GROUP of residents near Sacred Heart Cathedral are weighing up an appeal against the council’s decision to approve the Aspire Precinct after no car parks were included in the project.

City of Greater Bendigo councillors voted 5-4 in favour of the $10 million proposal at the December council meeting as debate centred on parking plans.

The council agreed to waive the requirement for 40 car parks, meaning no parking spaces will be built at the precinct. Eight existing parking spaces will be removed.

Sixteen objectors claim parking in the area is already an issue, which will only be exacerbated by the new precinct which is estimated to bring in an additional 40,000 visitors per year.

In a joint letter, they fear the lack of parking could detract from the entire project.

“No objector is against the redevelopment in principle. However, like most issues, the devil is in the detail and in this case, waiving of the statutory requirements for onsite parking will only add to an existing and growing problem which is long overdue for solution,” the letter reads.

“The objectors strongly believe the proposal as approved is totally flawed and can only result in disappointed visitors and tourists who cannot park their car let alone buses near the site.

“It is so bad that visitors to our homes are unable to find parking and tradespeople have to break parking laws to attend to urgent works.”

The residents, including Max Turner, Alan Ellis, Lyn and Adrian Byrne, and H Guest, claim they were under the impression the precinct would have parking included – up to 350 underground spaces at one stage – but it was removed without consultation.

They also say the streets around the cathedral are dangerous at busy times.

The residents are considering an appeal in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The plans were altered before they were submitted to council in April after the project failed to secure Commonwealth funding. It was then deferred one month from the November meeting, to be voted on at the December meeting.

Councillors George Flack, Andrea Metcalf, Julie Hoskin and James Williams voted against the proposal.

The council completed a survey of parking and found 1420 car parks within 400 metres of the Aspire Precinct, including the Edwards Street multistory. A total of 241 parks were empty, 77 of which were unrestricted.

The report to council stated bus routes and the tram line along High Street could help to address transport issues for visitors. Bicycle racks will also be provided.

“It is likely that there is sufficient on street capacity to cater for the peak demand generated by the use within a reasonable walking distance of the site,” the report read.

“It is likely that the peak periods for the parish hall will be outside normal business hours, when there will be less take up of the on street parking by CBD workers and staff and parents associated with the nearby school.

“Taking into account local policy which seeks to minimise reliance on private vehicles and promote alternative forms of transport, the location of the site on the edge of the CBD, the likely demand for car spaces, the availability and proximity of public transport the site, and the parking survey finding that there is a limited vacancy available within surrounding on street and public parking areas, it is considered that a partial reduction in the total number of spaces is appropriate in this case.”

During the vote, Councillor Yvonne Wrigglesworth said “parking issues should not used as a guise to stop developments in our community”.

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