Council’s Parking Permit Scheme for Echo Point is changing. 

Update on new Parking Permit Scheme

Council's new Parking Permit Scheme for Echo Point has been postponed, following Council's decision at the 25 February meeting.
The new parking permit scheme will proceed from 1 November 2020.

If you have a permit issued under the old scheme (issued before 2020), it is no longer valid. However, the new scheme will not be enforced until 1 January 2021.

The new scheme, adopted by Council in August 2019, limits permits to residents and business within the designated parking precinct, and was enacted to help address issues with parking demand and the availability of parking spaces, and improve the balance between resident, visitor, and business parking needs.

Council still believes this is the best way forward to manage the cost of tourism infrastructure. Postponing the implementation and enforcement for the remainder of 2020 will give the tourism industry time to recover following the recent bush fires.

Despite the Blue Mountains being one of the most visited tourist destinations in Australia, Council currently recovers a small amount of revenue from visitors. This means ratepayers are currently subsidising visitor infrastructure.

What is the new parking permit scheme?

There are now two schemes – one for residents and one for businesses. Both schemes limit permits to residents and business within the designated parking precinct.

How is it different from the old policy?

The old policy allowed Blue Mountains residents to apply for parking permits for Echo Point. 

I'm a ratepayer, can I get a parking permit for Echo Point?

Under the new policy, only residents and businesses located within the designated parking precinct are eligible for Echo Point parking permits, if they meet the eligibility requirements.

If you are not eligible, you can still easily access Echo Point. Paid parking is available, or you can park outside the precinct and walk down if you don't want to pay. The walk is just 6 minutes from outside the precinct, to the Visitor Information Centre.

How much does it cost?

The application fee for permits is $36.
If a permit is lost or stolen and needs to be replaced, it will cost $50.

Council is charging a fee to cover the administration and processing of these parking permits and will not make a profit from this application fee.

I live in the parking precinct and already have a permit, will I have to reapply?

Yes. Council is phasing out the existing permit scheme and permits issued before 2020 will not be valid.

How do I apply for a permit?

Eligible residents and businesses will receive a new letter from Council with updated information about when you can apply for a permit in early March 2020.

Already submitted an application? We will call you and organise to refund your application fee.

How long is my permit valid for?

Permits are valid for two calendar years, regardless of when during the year you got the permit. For example if you apply for a new permit in January or July 2021, your permit will be valid until 31 December 2022.

What and where is the ‘parking precinct’?

The parking precinct is at and around Echo Point, Katoomba: View the precinct map.
The aim of a parking precinct is to address issues with parking demand and the availability of parking spaces, and improve the balance between resident, visitor, and business parking needs. 

When does the new policy start?

The new policy commenced in January 2020, and a decision about when it will be fully implemented and enforced, will be made at the Ordinary Council meeting on 25 February.

Why is Council changing the policy?

The new schemes balance resident, visitor, and business parking needs, and improve access to street parking for residents living within the parking precinct.

The Blue Mountains continues to experience increasing numbers of tourists visiting the region and the costs associated with providing visitor facilities across the City continues to grow.

Despite the Blue Mountains being one of the most visited tourist destinations in Australia, Council currently recovers a small amount of revenue from visitors. This means that ratepayers are subsidising tourism infrastructure.

Paid parking at key tourism locations will generate income that will be used to fund ongoing maintenance of tourist infrastructure, reducing the cost burden to ratepayers.

Permit holders are currently occupying a significant number of high-demand paid parking spots in tourism areas, without charge. This means visitors often have difficulty finding parking and are forced to park in unmetered residential areas, and Council is not able to generate enough income to cover those maintenance costs.

The previous scheme also did not comply with the Transport NSW’s Permit Parking Guidelines, and the new schemes bring Council in line with these guidelines.

Is accessible parking subject to paid parking?

Accessible parking spaces will not be subject to paid parking for those drivers with a valid permit under the NSW Government’s Mobility and the Disability Parking Schemes.

Will paid parking discourage visitors from coming to the Blue Mountains?

Paid parking in areas of high demand tourist and non-tourist areas is very common, in Australia and internationally. Research shows a very high level of acceptance, and even expectation, of paid parking in tourist destinations.

Experts recommend setting prices to maintain 85-90% occupancy rates; this is called performance based or responsive pricing. This is set to ensure there is always a space available and that prices are not set too high or too low.

What will Council do with the money generated from paid parking?

Consistent with our Visitor Infrastructure Investment Strategic Plan, any revenue generated from paid parking will be reinvested in the renewal or maintenance of visitor (tourism) infrastructure and city presentation.

When did Council decide to make this change?

Council endorsed this policy at the 27 August 2019 meeting.

Did Council consult with the community first?

Yes, we consulted extensively with the community. During 2019 we communicated directly with residents and businesses within the parking precinct, held conversation hour on our Facebook page for the whole community, put the Permit Parking Policy on public exhibition, and kept the community up to date through our Have Your Say engagement platform.

Is this related to the Echo Point upgrades?

No, the parking precinct and permit scheme changes are not related to the Echo Point upgrades. The upgrade will deliver significant improvements to Echo Point and enhance the visitor experience.

However, the revenue raised from the paid parking at Echo Point, will help fund maintenance and future upgrades of tourist infrastructure in the Blue Mountains, including Echo Point.

Does this apply to anywhere else in the Blue Mountains?

Not yet. At the moment, this only applies to Echo Point. However, Council plans to review parking policies in other high tourist areas in the future.