The Issue With Minimum Car Parking Rates In Melbourne

27 Apr, 2023
Melbourne's rapid population growth has led to significant challenges in urban development. Urban sprawl and increased reliance on cars has resulted in negative impacts on the environment, public health, and the liveability of the city.

A recent article in The Age argues that Melbourne must halt the “fringe creep” and focus on more sustainable urban development by providing more housing in established suburbs with existing access to public infrastructure.

Infrastructure Victoria’s recent report, “Our Home Choices: How More Housing Options Can Make Better Use of Victoria’s Infrastructure“, provides a comprehensive set of recommendations for achieving these goals by providing more housing in established suburbs. One of the key recommendations is to decouple the provision of car parking requirements from development in established suburbs in Melbourne (p60).
The report notes that the current requirement for developers to provide a certain number of car parking spaces in new developments is a significant barrier to more sustainable urban development. This requirement not only increases the cost of development but also encourages car dependency and reduces the availability of public space for other uses. Therefore, the report recommends that the provision of car parking requirements should be decoupled from development in established suburbs in Melbourne, with a particular focus on 3 and 4-bedroom dwellings.

This would allow developers to provide more affordable housing and reduce the cost of development while promoting more sustainable transport options such as public transport, cycling, and walking. The report notes that this approach has been successfully implemented in other cities around the world, where the provision of car parking requirements has been decoupled from development in certain areas. The report provides clear evidence around how car ownership rates are linked to the public transport supply (quality and frequency) and how car ownership reduces – specifically 40% of people living in apartments located within 800 metres of public transport facilities with a 5-minute frequency in morning peak did not own a car.

However, there is no doubt that this approach will require political will to enable development with reduced parking requirements and manage the sensitivity of local residents that may resist changes. Some local Councils are already implementing changes to support reduced parking requirements around transport hubs – an example is the recent Parking Overlays introduced in Brimbank around Sunshine and St Albans which reduce the parking requirements for new dwellings. These sorts of changes are based on car ownership statistics and will help achieve the goals outlined in the Infrastructure Victoria report.

It is important to note that this approach would not be suitable for all areas of Melbourne. In some areas, particularly those with limited access to public transport or high levels of car dependency, car parking is still an important consideration. Therefore, any changes to car parking requirements would need to be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the specific characteristics and needs of each area. In conclusion, the challenges facing Melbourne’s urban development require a comprehensive and sustainable approach that addresses the negative implications of minimum car parking requirements and the promotion of sustainable transport options. Infrastructure Victoria’s recent report provides a comprehensive set of recommendations for achieving these goals, including the decoupling of car parking requirements from development in established suburbs in Melbourne. These recommendations should be considered by policymakers, developers, and the community to create a more sustainable and equitable future for Melbourne.

Written by Tom Dwyer - Associate

Written by Tom Dwyer - Associate

I’m passionate about the way people live and experience transport around our towns and cities. I’m lucky to have experience across the local government and private sectors which means that I’ve been involved as both a subject matter expert in the planning and design of projects, as well as delivery on the ground. I’m most proud of projects that have improved the safety and liveability of local transport infrastructure, particularly those that have involved collaboration with other technical experts and community members. Projects that have a beneficial impact on people's lived experiences motivate and fuel my ever-growing interest in this profession.
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