Council considers helping developers pay for car parks

IN a radical plan designed to stimulate development in the Nowra CBD, Shoalhaven City Council staff have proposed cutting developers’ contributions for car parking.

A recommendation put to the Nowra CBD Action Committee but yet to go to full council is to provide a reduction in car parking contributions from $24,247 a space to just to $6711.

At present if developers are unable to provide the required number of car parking spaces for their development they pay a fee to provide that parking.

Developers’ contributions collected for the proposed multistorey car park in the CBD have only raised $500,000 in 21 years.

Director of Planning and Development Tim Fletcher said it was an “out there idea” but one designed to encourage investment and development.

“The recommendation is for a short term of two years looking at utilising contributions to provide additional parking within road reserves or on other land council owns.

“It means we don’t have to acquire land, we can utilise existing council land and the contribution levy is related to just the construction cost of that parking space.”

Staff estimates council land in and around the Collins Way area could provide an additional 30 car parking spots.

Mr Fletcher said most developers choose to provide car parking on their sites, seeing it as an advantage.

Cr Andrew Guile warned the proposal could lead to another rate rise.

“This move will see Shoalhaven ratepayers subsidise 75 per cent of the cost of Nowra CBD property developers parking contributions,” Cr Guile said. 

“Ratepayers will foot the bill for more than $20,000 for every new car parking spot in the Nowra CBD.” 

“We are all interested in providing incentives to encourage investment in Nowra. However, this proposal goes well beyond the acceptable principles of flexibility.”

Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash said the proposal was a chance to bring development and jobs to the area and there was no suggestion of raising the rates.

“We are trying to make it provide an incentive for investors to come here and for us to be competitive with the rest of the state,” she said.

“If we are fortunate enough to have investors coming out of the woodwork due to cheap car parking spaces and we need to look at further land then we will review future options.”

Cr Greg Watson, who voted against the proposal, said the move would bring council under “severe scrutiny”.

“The reality is there is a shortfall of car parking in the Nowra CBD and this won’t help. It will be a disaster,” he said.

“This is an absolute giveaway.

“Providing 30 extra parking spots is a drop in the ocean.”

Committee member Jock Caldwell, who has undertaken multiple developments within the CBD, said the proposed charge was too cheap.

“We have been against the $24,000 cost for 15 years,” he said.

He said it was unfair for ratepayers to foot the bill and suggested that if council was going to charge just $6711 per car parking spot, a fee on the possible land purchase should also be included.

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