AIDA has for some years had significant concerns about parking issues in the top and bottom shops area, which have been compounded by applications for retail development within the bottom shops, which sought and were granted parking waivers. Parking will also be an issue in the top shops area when the apartments/offices planned for behind the general store are built, when the land to the left of the general store is developed, and now that the empty commercial land beside the old post office has been developed. From a meeting with council officers, it would appear that there can be no real planning as to possible acquisition of land for parking or even payment for waivers of retail parking spaces until a traffic management plan is completed by council. So, in an effort to get some accurate figures on the number of parked cars, AIDA undertook traffic counts of all car parks in Aireys Inlet on a Thursday and following Saturday between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm at regular intervals over a period of twelve months. The results demonstrated that all parking areas are under stress at certain times, that parking is occurring outside designated areas, and that both top and bottom shop areas can be full, not necessarily only in peak periods. We have forwarded our results to council and will continue to lobby for a well-thought-out approach to a problem that will only worsen over time.
The State Government has made further planning changes … this time reducing car parking requirements.
In June the Minister for Planning announced the immediate revision of all car parking requirements for developments across Victoria.
While these changes remove some inconsistencies in the previous requirements and claim to encourage pedestrian and bicycle access, their most important impact will be their significant reductions in the requirements to provide car parking spaces for a wide range of developments, including shops, food outlets and other businesses.
AIDA is concerned that these changes will lead to greatly increased roadside parking and the congestion of residential streets surrounding the top and bottom shops in Aireys Inlet and also around the other commercial businesses along the Great Ocean Road between the two shopping centres.
For example, car parking requirements for a shop have been halved, from 8 car spaces per 100 square metres of shop floor area to 4 car spaces, and for a restaurant, by a third, from 0.6 spaces per patron to 0.4 spaces. These changes have been introduced at a time when more rather than less people shop by car and while the Government continues to encourage increased growth in tourism along the Great Ocean Road.
Also, under the new parking requirements, the Council is now permitted to reduce further still the above already reduced car parking ratios, and in the absence of an Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Car Parking Overlay in the Planning Scheme, is able to waive parking requirements entirely, as was done for a recent restaurant planning permit application at the top shops, which would otherwise require 14 car spaces under the new regulations and 21 spaces under the old. Pity those living in Albert Avenue having to deal with the overflow traffic!
And, as if to add insult to injury, when parking requirements are reduced or waived in this way, another new clause, 52.06-4, removes the right of adjoining property owners and the community to receive notice of the reduction, to object to it, or to apply to VCAT for a review of the decision.