When does the new policy start?
The new policy will begin early in 2020. We will publish the dates early in the new year.
Why did Council change the policy?
The new schemes will balances 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 current scheme also doesn’t comply with the TfNSW’s Permit Parking Guidelines, and the new schemes will bring Council in line with their 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.