Councillors divided over removal of inner city car parks

Councillors divided over removal of inner city car parks

Seven car parks will be removed from the southern side of Whitmore Street. The change will improve efficiency and safety on the busy street. PHOTO: WELLINGTON CITY COUNCIL

Seven car parks will be removed from the southern side of Whitmore Street in the central city to improve the efficiency and safety of the arterial route.

The city strategy committee met on Thursday to discuss the section of Whitmore Street that runs perpendicular from Stout Street to Waterloo Quay.

The councillors were divided on whether it was worthwhile to remove the seven car parks. However, the committee ultimately approved the recommendation, nine votes to five.

The council will remove the car parks between Featherston Street and Stout Street, create a wider left-hand through lane on the southern side of the road, and create right-turn bays for vehicles turning from Whitmore Street into Featherston Street and Stout Street.

Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman, who introduced the item, said the section of road was a major connecting route between the eastern and western suburbs.The changes were necessary to improve the safety and efficiency of the stretch of road for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

“There have been 25 crashes in the past five years [along Whitmore Street], and that is 25 too many: 17,800 vehicles [use the road] on a weekday, something like 4,000 pedestrians cross this street every hour in morning peak – that needs to be respected as well.

“We have a more efficient scheme here. The downside of it is that it cannot go into place without [removing] seven car parks that are on the south side of Whitmore Street between Featherston Street and Stout Street.

“I always aim for a win-win on anything I do. This is a win-lose in that respect but a vote for keeping car parks is a vote for constraining this arterial [route].”

Cr Calvi-Freeman said there are plenty of other parking options for motorists in the area. “It has been pointed out in the report that there are literally hundreds of on-street car parks within a five-minute walking journey.”

Cr Simon Marsh opposed to the decision.  “I think when we’re taking out car parks we need to ask ourselves do we really need to remove them?

Cr Marsh pointed out that a clearway operates during peak times which addresses issues around efficiency. “Where the car parks are, three accidents have taken place in the five-year period.

“Just do the sums from the officers say, and 16 million vehicles movements have gone along that stretch of road, 16 million and there have been three accidents.

“Now my thoughts are that we are starting to fix something that doesn’t need to be fixed by taking out the car parks.”

Cr Marsh put down suggestions that the motorists could use car park buildings as an alternative to the on-street parking on Whitmore Street.

“Car park buildings are traditionally used by people who come into and will in and get an early bird car park. They pay $12 a day stay there all day.

“This is for two-hour turnover, for people who want to come and do some shopping.”

Over the next month, council officers will begin preparing construction drawings and appoint a contractor to undertake the work.

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