Parking requirements to be cut back under new design standards proposed for apartments

Proposed changes to design standards would allow new builds close to public transport to be built without car parking. Photo: Belinda Pratten Planning Minister Pru Goward said new regulations could save homebuyers up to $50,000. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Changes that would allow apartments near train stations or light rail stops to be built without parking could increase resident opposition to projects in parts of Sydney, an industry group has warned.

The new parking measures, proposed for 22 council areas including North Sydney, Parramatta, Strathfield and Waverley, are part of a raft of changes to apartment design standards announced by Planning Minister Pru Goward.

Ms Goward said the new guidelines, which also allow for more flexibility around apartment design, set a minimum size for studio units and introduced greater noise protections, would improve housing choice and put downward pressure on house prices.

“A car space can add up to $50,000 to the cost of a new apartment, so providing more flexibility around car parking requirements could lead to savings of up to the same amount for homebuyers,” Ms Goward said.

“Importantly, this change is restricted only to particular councils, applies only to development within close walking distance of transport services and strongly discourages councils from allowing residents of these buildings to receive street parking permits.”

Chris Johnson, chief executive of the Urban Taskforce, a developer lobby which helped develop the guidelines, said reducing parking requirements for units within 400 metres of a train station was an acknowledgement that many apartment dwellers preferred to use public transport.

The City of Sydney removed minimum parking requirements for new apartment blocks from its planning controls in 2012.

But Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW chief executive Stephen Albin said not including car spaces in new apartments could increase community anxiety about the adverse impact of development on public parking spaces – unless this was also increased.

“If you don’t fix that up then you’re going to create pretty substantial local opposition to development occurring, especially urban renewal, in key parts of Sydney,” Mr Albin said.

“Currently, delivering apartments without parking is a niche market segment in Sydney as the public transport system doesn’t adequately meet people’s transport needs.”

Peter Chittenden of Colliers Residential said it was unlikely developers would offer less parking just because they could.

“The commercial formula will insist upon them [developers] in most cases doing what is permissible, rather than trying to save by not building a basement or car spaces,” he said.

“In today’s market one of the first things people ask is whether there is parking.”

CBRE’s David Milton also noted how much developers can charge buyers for parking.

“A car park in the city can cost between $120,000 and $140,000,” he said.

“If you are in south Sydney, Crows Nest, St Leonards or Chatswood your car park is worth $70,000 to $80,000. Parramatta might be $50,000.

“The Australian psyche is still very much people having cars and using them regularly.”

Stephen Goddard from apartment owners’ peak body, the Owners Corporation Network, said removing parking from apartments was social engineering destined to fail.

“Try telling the good burghers of Bondi [Junction] they’ve got too many car spaces,” Mr Goddard said.

“Reduced on-site parking turns on-street parking into an even larger urban battleground.”

Peter Phibbs, an urban planning professor at the University of Sydney, said while parking issues could cause a lot of angst among councillors and communities, the targeted changes would provide more choice.

“So if people want to get a place with a car spot, they can, if they don’t they don’t have to. At the moment at a lot of places, you’ve got no choice,” he said.

A spokesman for Ms Goward said it was the responsibility of councils to manage street parking.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.