Car parking has again emerged as an issue for residents opposing a business development near the cathedral precinct in central Bendigo.
City of Greater Bendigo councillors will on Wednesday decide whether to grant a permit for a medical practice in Don Street.
The medical centre, which plans to have three practitioners, has sought a reduction in the statutory car parking requirements at the site – from 11 to four.
Plans for the medical centre were lodged two years ago and, after a series of amendments, received numerous objections and a petition from nearby residents, who raised concerns with parking, noise, safety and privacy, among others.
The situation bears similarities to the nearby Aspire Precinct development on the grounds of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, which sought a waiver on the 40 car parks required under legislation.
A group of residents took the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal after councillors in December 2017 voted in favour of the development.
VCAT upheld the council’s decision to waive all parking spaces for the site and apply a condition requiring a financial contribution for 14 spaces.
Don Street resident Cordelia Aiello-Green started the petition opposing the medical practice.
“The clinic should go somewhere safe, where there's enough parks. It's like trying to squeeze an elephant into a shoe box,” she said.
Ms Aiello-Green said the doctor planning the new practice – Arvind Sharma – needed to find somewhere more suitable and accessible for his patients.
Doctor Sharma said some of his patients were suffering as they were unable to access his current practice in central Bendigo, located on the second floor.
He said people concerned with parking in residential areas of central Bendigo needed to “broaden their horizons” given the growing nature of the city.
“People need to realise that as Bendigo grows the need for professional services in the city grows as well,” he said.
“If people expect the quality of life comparable to other expanding towns and cities there needs to be compromises to parallel that.
“It’s frustrating for me, but more so my patients.”
A report prepared by a COGB planning coordinator advised councillors to grant a permit for the practice and suggested contemporary inner-city planning was moving away from accommodating the demand for cars toward policies that look to suppress the demand for car parking.
“There is no evidence that the increase in practitioners would result in adverse impacts to such a degree that the application should be refused,” the report stated.
“It is also of relevance to note that the city is aware of ongoing community concerns regarding parking pressures.”
The COGB undertook a timed-parking trial in the area around the cathedral and Girton Grammar in January 2018.
The four-month trial, which incorporated Rowan, Vine, Wattle, High, Short, Forest and Mackenzie Streets, was conducted to inform the council’s residential parking policy.
Results of the trial have not been published by the COGB.
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