More Wellington car parks to close

One-third of Wellington city‘s off-street car parks are still off limits since the KaikĊura earthquake – and more are set to be closed next month.

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Car park buildings at Reading Cinema, James Smith and Marion Street were closed due to the earthquake in 2016, decreasing the number of car parks available in the city by more than 1000.

The council plans to close about 70 more at the Michael Fowler Centre to install a temporary rehearsal studio for the Royal New Zealand Ballet who are moving out of the St James Theatre to make way for earthquake strengthening work.

Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman said the loss of the car parks had put a strain on the city, but more people were now using public transport.

“Wellington city centre is pretty vibrant and people want to come here so they get on the bus, they get on a bicycle, they get on a motorbike, they walk, they take a taxi or Uber – there are ways in.

“They‘re coming in from Johnsonville and the other cities to the north by train as well and the train growth has been pretty substantial too,” he said.

There were over 5000 car parks in the capital including on-street parks, Mr Calvi-Freeman said.

Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford said the lack of parking could impact the council‘s proposal to charge [www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/351713/wellington-divided-over-move-to-abolish-free-parking $2.50 an hour] for weekend parking in the CBD.

Charging for parking over the weekend will free up more spaces, but won‘t discourage people from coming into the city, he said.

“If there is charging at the weekend, it will mean you will get a turn because I know that a number of the car parks in the city are actually being used by workers at the weekend.

“That‘s actually stopping them from being available for shoppers and people who want to visit the city”, he said.

The proposal to start charging for weekend parking is part of the Wellington City Council‘s 10-year-plan.