There was an excellent post by Pippa Coom who is a member of the Waitemata Local Board on the Shape Auckland website.

How we regulate, control and plan for parking has a huge impact on Auckland’s urban design, the environment, housing affordability and our transport.

The subject provokes strong opinions and calls for free parking. Many decisions about parking have been based on myths, false assumptions and poor evidence. When defining issues in our city as “parking problems”, as “experts” we turn to more parking as the solution.

Regulations made with good intentions, have led to poor results, holding back our city’s potential.

We now have the opportunity, through the Unitary Plan, to put in place a best-practice approach to car parking that has the potential to unleash economic, social and environmental benefits.

UCLA economist Dr Donald Shoup (author of The High Cost of Free Parking) extensively studied parking as a key link between transportation and land use, with important consequences for cities, the economy and the environment. His thinking influenced Auckland Transport’s proposal for a city centre parking zone (implemented late 2012) with the aim of better managing on-street parking as a finite resource competing for other transport priorities. The scheme applies “demand-responsive pricing” and includes the removal of time restrictions, increased on-street parking prices and extended paid parking until 10pm.

It’s early days but all indications are pointing to success with greater availability of parking, a reduction in tickets and more casual visitors. The city also benefited from reduced maintenance costs with 62 per cent of parking poles removed. Other business centres are now looking at applying similar principles to free up on-street parking for customers.

At a Getting Parking Right for Auckland seminar in April we heard that parking supply is not the problem, rather poorly managed oversupply. A total of 80 per cent of off-street parking is privately owned, which hinders its effective use. For example, minimum parking quantities in our current district plans means some car parks are only used during the day by commuters and shoppers while other car parks are used only at night for entertainment. Using land for empty car parks is hugely wasteful.

Traditional city requirements to include car parking with affordable housing have also been a major barrier to higher-density developments as a car park is not always required by inner-city residents.

Parking in the draft Unitary Plan

So how is the draft Unitary Plan shaping up when it comes to car parking requirements? The plan requires that car parking be managed to support:

  • intensification in and around the city centre, metropolitan, town and local centres and within mixed-use corridors
  • the safe and efficient operation of the transport network
  • the use of more sustainable transport options including public transport, cycling and walking
  • the economic activity of businesses
  • efficient use of land

It proposes that maximum quantities (with no minimums) apply in and around:

  • City centre fringe area
  • Centres zones: metropolitan, town, local
  • Mixed-use zone
  • Terrace housing and apartment buildings zone

Everywhere else minimum quantities apply with no maximums – except for offices (to discourage “out-of-centre” development motivated by the ability to provide parking).

The rationale is that in and around centres, maximums and no minimums supports intensification and public transport. Elsewhere the planners have explained that minimums are required as they are less willing to rely on the market to meet parking needs and are more concerned with the effects of “parking overspill”.

The removal of minimum quantities around town centres but retaining them for new developments appears to be a solution for today’s lack of public transport. But it creates a problem for future generations who will have to deal with the oversupply of parking and poor land use (plus the uneconomic bundling of car parking costs with housing).

The rationale for controlling the effect of parking overspill is poorly thought through. Instead we should allow the market to provide the right level of parking, allowing for overspill onto surrounding streets is a good use of otherwise empty road space. If that space reaches capacity – as has happened in our city fringe suburbs – the response should be to better manage the on street parking, for example, with a residents’ parking scheme.

When providing feedback on the draft Unitary Plan’s parking requirements, take the time to consider the evidence that emerges when parking is stripped back. Cities around the world are taking a different approach and being richly rewarded.

As I said, it was an excellent post, the only thing I am going to add is add in the tables from the unitary plan which show the exact requirements proposed in the Unitary Plan. For carparking it says

1. The number of car parking spaces required or permitted accessory to any activity is set out in Table 1. These controls apply unless the Unitary Plan specifies otherwise. The number of car parking spaces must:
a. not exceed the maximum rates specified in tables 1a, 1b and 1c in the locations where these apply
b. meet the minimum rates specified in Table 1c in the locations where these apply
c. meet the minimum rates and not exceed the maximum rates specified in Table 1c in locations where both apply.

2. Where a site supports more than one activity, the parking requirement of each activity must be separately determined. The parking rates for the parts of any activity must also be separately determined where separate rates are listed in the table which applies. If any activity is not represented in Table 1c, the activity closest in nature to the proposed activity must be used.

Draft Unitary Plan Parking - City Centre

What’s interesting is to compare these requirements with what is being proposed for the new Convention Centre. The centre will sit on a 14,000m² site and have three floors (each with a height of 12m). At the most that means floor area of 42,000m². Under these rules the maximum parking allowed would be 200 spaces yet SkyCity are planning for 900. What is also odd is that the Heads of Agreement signed between SkyCity and the government actually states a minimum of 780 spaces, well outside even the current requirements of 1:150m² (max 280 parks). Anyway back to the Unitary Plan requirements:

Draft Unitary Plan Parking - City Fringe + CentresAnd

Draft Unitary Plan Parking - Everywhere Else

Lastly the council has actually included some minimum requirements for cycle parking as well as other facilities to support it. Hopefully this will help in eventually making cycling more viable for a wider range of people however it is odd that medical facilities are singled out separately.

Draft Unitary Plan Cycle Parking

Draft Unitary Plan End of Trip

Share this


  1. The big issue missing here is that there are minimum parking requirements in the Mixed Housing zone. No needs for these at all. I also don’t think there should be a maximum. In the short term developers will still provide plentiful parking, however the life of this plan is likely to be 15 years at least. In 15 years Public Transport will be vastly improved, so crazyness forcing all development to provide for parking.

  2. So where next after cycle parking requirements? I reckon we could do with mandatory umbrella stands and coat-racks.

      1. If you want to encourage cycling I would have thought requiring showers would be more valuable than parking spaces. I used to ride a bike everywhere and never had trouble finding a parking spot. Heck even with my motorbike I never have trouble squeezing it somewhere.

        1. As you can see from the table, the UP does require showers for offices and medical or educational facilities.

          I was sort-of serious about umbrella stands and coat-racks, although that requirement probably makes more sense in the Building Code, rather than the district plan. When the UP first came out I thought the requirement for cycle parking was silly, but I’ve kind of warmed to it, especially for visitor parking. People can choose whether to have cycle parking when they rent or buy a house, but you can’t exactly pick and choose when you’re going about your business.

        2. My point is that once cycling reaches a tipping point, provision for parking does become an issue – and one that I am glad to see included in the plan. The provision of cycling infrastructure does much more than just make life easier for cyclists, it also increases the viability of cycling to those who have never considered it, creating a feedback cycle that heads closer and closer to critical mass.

  3. We actually employ people to come up with regulations for minimum carparks for marinas and vet surgeries? So one day a town planner (or a spatial planner, or whatever they call themselves these days) noticed that veterinary clinic car parking was completely unregulated, and decided to do something about it? That’s bad. But it is worse that none of the peer reviewers, approvers, or politicians decided that we’re living in a “wisdom of crowds” era and don’t require this level of central planning.

    1. Yes that is the stupidity of parking minimums. You will find that there isn’t even any evidence behind the numbers, people in the past just plucked them out of thin air.

      1. It is absolute madness. I think discussion about MPRs probably will inevitability lead to a discussion about “how much parking should be supplied”, which is not really the issue at hand. Removing minimum PRs will not necessarily lead to fewer parking spaces being provided, but it is more the principle of why we are regulating it that is the issue in my opinion.

      2. Hmmm … it’s a slight exaggeration to say the numbers were plucked out of thin air, but yes they do have very weak empirical/socio-economic foundations. The first thing to note is that they measure the demand for free parking, which is obviously far far higher than the demand for accurately priced parking. The second thing to note is that they automatically exclude from their surveys any development that has no parking – which introduces systematic bias in the results. It really is an empirical house of cards when you look at it.

        In contrast, the best predictor of parking demand I have ever found is parking supply (r-squared of about 95%). Go figure!

  4. As it seems that the Minister for the 1960s has over ridden the city’s parking supply regulations then at the very least the Council can do is remove an equivalent number of parking spaces from its own vast supply. This would give it the opportunity to 1.get rid of some of the worst placed traffic generating parks and 2. Sell or develop valuable inner city real estate.

  5. Of note here.

    I tried to get some pedestrian refuges installed on my street as the only safe places to cross currently are 1.5km apart.

    This means I need to take 600m detour to cross the road to get to the bus stop 50m over the road from my house.

    Anyway, even after I designed the solution for them they said they couldn’t do it as on street parking was an important community asset in my area. This is even though at peak times you get about one parked car every 200m

    1. Important point that needs highlighting. Pedestrians get treated terribly in Auckland, and it is quite unfortunate that you have to walk 600 metres for what should be a very easy walk. While it seems attitudes may be starting to change, there still seems some deeply conservative planning practiced by AT’s traffic engineers.

    2. Yes it wasn’t the response I was looking for as they have been rather helpful in the past

      Given there is currently space for about 300 cars to park on the road yet there is typically less than 8 I would not have thought losing a few carparks would be the end of the world.

      1. One wonders how many of your neighbours might start taking the bus if they didn’t need a 600m detour to cross to the bus stop. Perhaps more than the two forgone carparks were supporting?

        There must be a zillion such examples in Auckland. I’ve always thought that the greatest value for money investment we could make in PT is simply sorting out accessibility to existing stops and stations.

      1. Interestingly enough, if the developments on my street had complied with the MPRs there would likely not be an issue as there would be no expectation for people to park on the street.

        1. Lauren, as an advocate, I had numerous project suggestions and improvements for pedestrians and cyclists rejected because they required parking removal, whatever so slight! And this was in areas where a simple look at the Google Aerials showed TONS, absolutely TONS of off-street car parking created over the last decades.

          MPR are part of the same disease. They don’t create a Council more willing to remove on-street parking, sadly.

        2. Can you give some examples of these locations? I’ve grown to be sceptical as when I have heard such things in the past I have found the car parks to be 200-400m from where people want to go.

        3. Hi Lauren

          The particular examples have been given as examples by Cycle Action Auckland – one at the corner of Vera Road, Te Atatu where they asked for the extension of a proposed shared path on Te Atatu Road a short section down the side road (so cyclists could avoid having to ride on-road near the busy signals). Refused because of two car parks on the northern side of Vera Road near the signals. Have a look at the ginormous amount of parking close by (west and southwest of the intersection).

          The other ones were parking removal proposed for cycle safety on New North Road – which Sam F did a gust post on here a few months ago. There’s lots of parking behind the shops at these intersections, yet the shopkeepers feel that losing a few on-street spaces would damage their business. So what was the use of requiring / building all the car parking behind the shops then, if even faced with a safety audit asking for their removal, they still want to keep them, arguing they are absolutely necessary? The Morningside one is a good example, as the aerial shot in Sam’s post showes it well:

          And lastly, if you WANT to drive, what is the difficulty of walking 200m? Unless you are buying a washing machine, I don’t quite see this – of course its not as convenient as parking outside the door. But it shouldn’t dominate our city planning, and ride roughshod over all other modes. Rant off/ 😉

        4. A 200m walk! Good god man, are you insane?

          Apparently a 400m walk to transit would be potentially fatal to most Aucklanders so 200m may leave them in a serious medical situation.

        5. Goosoid, clearly you are not familiar with the outside worlds. Once you get a chance to witness it you will notice that if someone is driving home and wants to get some milk from the diary they will tend to go to the one that they can park outside rather than the one they need to park some 200 to 400m away.

          Now for me I could go for a 20km run, a 100km bike ride or even a 5 day tramp to get my milk. But to be honest I really can’t be stuffed and I would much rather just walk the 20m from my car whilst driving home.

        6. SF Lauren – fair point about how people are, especially if the city is built to encourage that, and damn the torpedos (negative side effects). Which is kinda the point – Copenhagen also allows you to drive to get your milk. Yet a lot less people do. They are making a rational decision, as Stu points out in a lot of his posts. Their city is encouraging other modes more, whereas Auckland and similar cities encourage driving.

          Also, Lauren, in a city that encourages walking and cycling, you can pick that milk up as you walk home from the bus or train stop – while on your way home, because you can’t be stuffed to go on an extra trip…

        7. While people are always to need to stop and get a litre of milk. Town and transport changes are affected by the internet and online shopping too. Nowadays you don’t have to take a car to load up on groceries you can take the train and order them on your iphone to be there when you arrive.

        8. Aucklanders seem happy to go to the mall or supermarket, where they could walk 50m-150m across a carpark, and then hundreds of metres more once inside. At the mall you could walk several km if you stay for a while. People don’t usually park unnecessarily far away so they can walk a bit further, but needing to walk for a couple of minutes doesn’t put many people off doing anything.

        9. “Goosoid, clearly you are not familiar with the outside worlds.” – as ad hominem attacks are part of your rhetoric allow me to respond to such a wordly and sophisticated man as yourself.

          If by “outside worlds” you are referring to outside NZ/Auckland, it seems I am far more familiar with it than you and the alternative kinds of cities that are available. I am suggesting (and this may be shocking – so brace yourself) that Auckland doesnt work properly – the fact that you feel the only option is to drive to the shop that is 200m away and cant walk or cycle is a symptom of that.

          I am saying that Auckland needs to change – it isnt about finding a better way to do what happens now or improve access for your car to the shops. If it doesnt chnage it will just get worse and we will become ever more dependent on our cars.

        10. Goosoid, sorry about the insult, your trolling comment got the best of me.

          Anyway, you are now changing subject and starting to discuss the philosophy of small scale developments rather than the original topic of requiring people to park their cars 200-400m from their intended destination.

          To that extent I don’t really have anything to add without continuing the off topic discussion.

        11. Starnius, like Copenhagen in Auckland lots of people don’t drive to get their milk either. I myself tend to just walk to my local shops given they are so close.

          Looking at Copenhagen I don’t actually know how someone would get their milk if they got home and found they had none. The dense parts of the city may have some shops but the outer suburbs appear to be nothing but houses for miles and miles. The only choice they seem to have is drive

        12. “The dense parts of the city may have some shops but the outer suburbs appear to be nothing but houses for miles and miles. The only choice they seem to have is drive”

          Their statistics prove otherwise… And with a cargo bike, a 3km trip to the nearest supermarket is easy to do, and presumably takes no longer than in NZ to drive to the nearest greenfield one.

          Also, your assessment is not what I am reading from Google. Can you give me an example suburb please – maybe you may just expecting the “shopping areas” to look like NZ ones do on aerials, when they don’t? Shops and even supermarkets in central Europe are a lot smaller, and are often located in the ground floors of what otherwise would be normal apartment or office blocks.

        13. I would give you a link but my IP is blocked.

          Basically just look at any part of the city that is not multi story buildings, so the outer 70% of the city. From what I can see it’s just houses roads and more houses.

          My guess is that the corner shop is not part their culture.

        14. Starnius, I just had a look at your two examples. Both of them are very good cases where parking should be removed to improve the safety of all users.

          I recall one project I did where there was a black spot outside some shops as people were parking on the outside of a blind corner so they could cross the road to the shops. Naturally the shop owner and the locals that were still alive were up in arms when we put the no stopping lines in.

          A few years on and people continue to ignore the no stopping lines and continue getting into accidents. Only option left is to move the shop.

        15. Trolling? No it was an obviously unsucessful attempt at comedy!

          I am not changing the subject to small scale developments – I am exactly addressing the issue of people walking 200-400m from their car. I believe that 1. that is not very far to walk, and 2. we need to stop creating a city where driving less than a kilometre to the local shops is considered normal and necessary. Bicycles are perfect for that.

          Re: Copenhagen – I was there walking and cycling in the suburbs in 2011 and there are little shops around the place as well as small supermarkets where people buy daily rather than a mammoth one week shop. It is quite different from NZ (and typical of Central/Northern Europe) without big box retail except on the outskirts so it would be hard to see on the map.

        16. I think it’s part of New Zealand culture in general. Most people think they are too important to be slowed down by walking to the shops or not being able to park at the door.

          It’s not so much driven by the provision,aeven when you cancan’t people just do it anyway.

          Some of use grow through that phase from 16 to 20 but then others get ck in it all their life it seems.

          The best of them get to mobility scooter status so they don’t even need to get out of their PRT device.

        17. @ SF Lauren “The dense parts of the city may have some shops but the outer suburbs appear to be nothing but houses for miles and miles. The only choice they seem to have is drive” – could be that it is uneconomic to provide a shop because they have to provide so much parking, just a thought 🙂

  6. Minimum parking for those of us in the Rural Zone for a produce stall- like a box that sells your extra eggs or feijoas. Rule 2.7 “Rural Produce Stall – Sufficient area must be provided for car parking and manoeuvring so that no vehicle is required to reverse into or out of the site from the road. 5. Car parking must be provided for least two vehicles off the formed road and adjacent to the stall.” Hmmmm so i guess the guy next door, who i walk next door to buy eggs from will need to provide full car parks and a turnaround. Extra funny seeing the council thinks it’s too expensive to put footpaths on our street. So we walk,and bike on the grassy verge. Fine by me. But private landowners have to have two carparks. Even though there is room down the road to park your car off street, but you’d have to walk a few metres to get to it.

  7. Gotta love how there’s minimum parking requirements for taverns. Good on Auckland Council for encouraging people to drink and drive.

    1. DB’s in Newmarket gives you free overnight parking if you spend more than $20 which is fair enough.

    1. The Denver situation in the 1970s is pretty typical of how politically motivated Federal urban renewal policies of the 50s and 60s ripped the hearts out of American regional cities. Move the population from inner city slums to sprawling suburbs, which results in most shops following their customers to the suburbs. Try to revitalise CBDs by encouraging skycraper construction, adding floor area well in excess of demand and when computers were about to eliminate armies of clerical staff trashed the demand for older office buildings. Building freeways to connect suburbs with skyscrapers created a demand for parking which was most cheaply met by demolishing all the vacant older office buildings surrounding the new skyscrapers. The revenue from parking covered the property taxes on the land value whereas few of the demolished buildings earned enough revenue to cover property taxes on their improved value. What you see in the first Denver photo is the new economic normal those policies created.

      Denver’s solution could easily have led to a city of derelict office buildings or wastelands. Fortunately the internet created a demand for a central time zone centre for help desk and other trans-continental services and the boom in snowboarding and outdoor adveturism and extreme sports made Denver an ideal location for these Gen-Y intensive and highly remunerated employment centres. Portland, Seattle and San Jose rose to prominence during the same period providing the hardware and software side of the internet. It’s also worth noting that the Denver Basin had serious air pollution in the 1970s and addressing that made Denver one of the first green focussed cites in America, a major advantage in attracting Gen-Y focused employers. Another advantage was that these same employees were at the forefront of the change from the suburban dream generation to the funky apartment generation. That combination of factors worked for downtown Denver and has even been starting to work for downtown Detroit.

    2. That photo of Denver looks almost exactly like Chch after the earthquake. So a man made and a natural disaster have about the same effect on cities – creating parking.

  8. There should also be incentive or at least allowance for companies to meet their minimum requirement by sharing parking with businesses that have mostly alternate hours. Eg. Retail (day), and bars restaurants (night) Should be able to meet their requirement by sharing with a company who isn’t open. Churches (mostly sunday – and huge carparks) again should and could share with retail or office.

    1. In Vermont St (Pons) the Mosque visitors are allowed to use the Catholic Church carpark across the road on their busy day, Friday, the Catholics do vice versa on Sunday. Eminently sensible.

      Just need some 7th Day Adventists or Jews in the street now to take up the Saturday slack…

      1. Orthodox Jews are forbidden from driving on the shabat. Doesn’t stop synagogues having a large minimum parking requirement though!

  9. putting debates about parking minimums to one side for a moment, I just wanted to note how refreshing it is to see an elected representative engaging publicly with complex issues, such as car-parking. Some of Auckland’s politicians, especially of late, have seemed all too keen to whip up uninformed public emotions (e.g. Cameron Brewer and Dick Quax), rather than engage in reasoned debate.

    Bravo to Pippa Coom for showing Auckland’s “rusty and crusty” political brigade how one can get a point across in a more reasoned fashion. She’ll get my vote in the next local government elections.

    1. Agree! And Pippa suggested a road rule change giving pedestrians priority at intersections (which I need to post about). I’m moving to the Waitemata Board area.

  10. Talking of parking, someone at my work said Fonterra are moving to the current (Wilsons?) parking site next to the Caltex on Fanshawe Street and across the road from Vic Park. They said that the new Fonterra headquarters was being built with almost 700 car parks but that’s got to be a silly rumour, right? Anyone heard anything about their new headquarters in Fanshawe Street?

    1. First off thank god someone is filling that shithole with something, secondly, a surface carpark isn’t much worse than that. Especially as there is an NEX stop right outside.

      1. I suggest that the surface carpark is nowhere near 700 spaces for a start. Think of all the extra traffic coming out from there is that number I heard was to be correct. Also, there’s no NEX stop right outside, unless by “right outside” you’re talking dodging the traffic to the bus stop across the road on the Vic Park side.

        1. Damn, the ‘;-)’ fell off the post. Yes, it was a very tongue-in-cheek. I get all over the local area on my $100 hack, and apart from the risk of being killed by half asleep drivers, enjoy it. What more, I’m doing my best to get wifey into it as well but she nearly got bowled by a car coming out of a t-intersection last week (driver didn’t even look before pulling out) so she’s cooled on the idea a bit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *