Echo Point Parking Precinct plans on hold due to COVID-19
Council has deferred plans to develop the parking precinct at Echo Point until early 2021, due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the tourist industry.
The Echo Point Parking Precinct Plan, which aims to establish paid coach parking near Echo Point and a new parking permit policy for residents and business, was due to commence early 2020.
After the severe bushfire season, this was postponed until November 2020. Then, at its September meeting, Council agreed to defer this further until early 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After more unexpected impacts on local tourism businesses and to allow them to time to recover, we will revisit the plans to develop changes to parking at Echo Point,” Acting Chief Executive Officer Will Langevad said.
“This plan will now go ahead in March 2021, as it is an important one for Council and for ratepayers, to ease the burden of spending on visitor infrastructure.”
While visitor numbers to the Blue Mountains is beginning to return to normal levels through domestic tourism, visitor spending is currently down following the bushfire and COVID-19 crises. This means that the financial burden of maintaining visitor infrastructure falls to Council, and ratepayers.
“Paid parking at key tourism locations can generate income to fund this infrastructure, reducing the cost to ratepayers,” Mr Langevad said. "Research shows that this can be done without deterring visitors, as many domestic and international visitors are accustomed to paid parking in world class tourist destinations.”
When introduced, the Plan will mean that coaches will pay for parking via the introduction of parking bays within the precinct, which will also provide dedicated coach parking in the area.
In addition, Council will implement a new policy for resident and business parking to replace the existing schemes at Echo Point.
“The Plan balances resident, visitor, and business parking needs, and will improve access to street parking for residents living within the parking precinct,” Mr Langevad said.