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VCAT Case Study: How a Sustainable Future Makes a Case for Car Park Reductions

For small parcels of land, finding adequate space for car parking and sticking to your design can be a challenge.

Luckily, the modern trend towards encouraging sustainable transport is on your side, and it's a win-win for everyone.

At Quantum Traffic, we are often called upon to give expert evidence to VCAT on behalf of developers seeking a car park reduction.

Recently, I prepared expert evidence in just such a situation for a small commercial development in Melbourne's outer eastern suburb, Bayswater.

The critical element of the proposal was that there was inadequate provision of car parking. While statutory requirements stipulate a rate of three car parks per one hundred people for an office and 3.5 for retail, the rates of this proposed development were just one space per hundred.

And, given the size of the land, the three-fold increase in car parking was unsustainable.

The justification for having just a third of the required car parking spaces was the presence of good council car parking in the vicinity. Furthermore, because the development was in an activity centre, there was provision for more sustainable modes of transport to and from the site.

Activity centres such as Bayswater are suburban shopping precincts central to Melbourne's planned growth, as outlined in the Melbourne 2030 planning scheme.

To become a more sustainable city, activity centres should be easily accessible by public transport, reducing the need for cars. An activity centre's accessibility gives staff the practical option of taking public transport to the site instead of driving. And due to the nature of an activity centre, staff who work in the area do not need a car to access the closest supermarkets, pharmacies, cafes and restaurants.

Also helping our case was the presence of complementary land uses.

When you are looking at developments in an activity centre as a whole, it's essential to consider the many different land uses, not just this particular development.

Combine all this with the fact that there is adequate council parking nearby, and we found it was reasonable to have a lower car parking provision than the standards.

In line with Melbourne's plans for creating a more sustainable city, offices are a particular development where we would like to see fewer car parking provisions in the future. As traffic to and from offices has the most significant impact on our arterial road network, if we can start to make a shift towards sustainable transport modes, we will see a welcome easing of congestion.

In this case, we got a decision on the spot, an unusual outcome for a VCAT hearing. The tribunal member was satisfied that the surrounding car park resources could easily accommodate overflow from the development. Our expert evidence set aside council disapproval and granted the developer a permit without conditions of extra car parking.

Now, they can decide to build the development or sell the site with a permit attached.

Either way, the development's value got a welcome boost.

Does your development have a case for a car parking reduction?

Let us know, and we are happy to help with expert evidence.

Get in contact with us today and let's make the most out of your development.

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