First the City Centre, now longer parking times could be on the cards for Summer Street
Orange City Centre customers will soon see free parking times extended from two to three hours after Council gave approval to the proposal at their Tuesday night meeting.
Orange City Centre management approached Council about extending the parking hours in their car park as they believe it will be better for retailers and is more in keeping with parking times at other major shopping centres.
‘The Centre is currently working with Council to finalise the agreement for the increase in the parking time,” City Centre Manager Nicole Chapman told Orange City News.
“We expect to commence in the coming months and we will update the community on a start date once it is confirmed.”
Economic Development Community Committee Chairman Cr Jeff Whitton spoke in support of the parking extension at the City Centre, but then asked whether longer parking times in Summer Street might also be of benefit to local retailers.
“Is that what those shop owners want? Do they want longer times, so that people can stay longer? Or do they like short time so it brings people different people backwards and forwards?” asked Cr Whitton, who proposed Council put the suggestion to the Orange Business Chamber or survey business owners and customers directly.
“Probably the easiest way is to engage the Chamber and do a survey. First and foremost it is those who pay rent in Summer Street and also people who use Summer Street, which is you and I. Do we think 15 minutes parking in the main street is acceptable? Or should that be extended?” he said.
Cr Whitton said parking times in Summer Street were shortened in the past in a bid to make more spaces available, but the nature of retail has since changed.
“The majority of the shops in the main street are food and coffee outlets and we are hearing that people park there to read the paper and have breakfast and have a coffee but only have 15 minutes to do so,” Cr Whitton said.
“So maybe they would like to give their customers time to stop and enjoy a coffee and not worry too much about being booked.
“If you've only got 15 minutes in the main street to park... I suppose you are going to say, I'm not going to park in the main street, I'm going to park down in one of the shopping areas and then straight away those particular retails shops have lost that first customer contact.”
Judging by Councillor Whitton’s comments, it seems he really doesn’t have any clear ideas, just notions. I think most would agree however, that letting people park for say more than an hour anywhere in Summer Street would not be wise and I’m sure most retailers would not be in favour of that.
Parking has been a hot and controversial topic for a long time and there are no easy answers, as soon as you please one group, you’ll upset another. That said, there are areas where the time limits are outdated and need to be reviewed. For example, I personally get annoyed when I see someone being booked in Lords Place outside Robertson Park when there are at least 15 to 20 vacant spaces available. A few years ago, an hour limit here made sense, but not any longer. Things changed when the carpark behind the Council Chambers opened. Being booked under those circumstances would leave a sour taste in the mouth of any reasonable person.