How many car parks are needed in Bendigo’s central business district?
Most people say the more the better, but MRCagney principal consultant Steven Burgess suggests that is not necessarily the case.
“It’s a little bit irritating when you can’t find a park but we’ve done some research on this and when it comes to the overall appeal of town centres, it (parking) is not as important as you would think,” he said.
Mr Burgess will on Tuesday meet with community groups, Bendigo CBD traders and members of the public to discuss car parking in the centre of town.
It will be part of a series of conversations as the City of Greater Bendigo and MRCagney seek views on the area’s long term future.
Mr Burgess does not have an agenda for the discussions, which he said will be open-ended to allow people the chance to have their input.
However, he would like to discuss research on what people value about CBDs, noting that survey respondents rarely cite car parking as highly important.
“They like clean places, they like green places, they like safe places and those that are vibrant and active. If we did it (similar surveys) in Bendigo … I bet the heritage and quality of the buildings would be important,” Mr Burgess said.
“But it’s extremely rare for parking to get a really high care-factor (in these surveys).”
In places like Melbourne where there is an under-supply of parking, people are prepared to leave the car further away from their destination and walk.
“The streets that look interesting and exciting are the ones where people are walking a long way,” he said.
They are also the streets where people are running into those they know or where they are opportunistically ducking into stores they would not think to drive to, like cafes.
“If you are driving, that sucks the life out of a town centre. The main thing that stops people walking is the parking supply,” Mr Burgess said.
The designers of the largest indoor shopping centres know this, he said, which was why they do not enable people to park outside shopfronts.
Tuesday’s discussions are part of early conversations about car parks and how local businesses wanted to shape the CBD.
“It’s not one of those things you would change overnight. It’s about saying that when people want to redevelop a building, why not consider more or less parks?” Mr Burgess said.
The Parking - less is more important than you think forum takes place Tuesday from 6.30pm at the Capital Theatre.
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