Parking restrictions strangle businesses

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 06/08/2014
parking woes
Lauren Priestley
NOT HAPPY: Business owners Alan Bettesworth, Paul Turner and Shane Searle are pushing for longer parking limits in Onehunga.

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Parking limits are turning a bustling shopping strip into a ghost town, business owners say.

Onehunga Mall only has 30-minute parking and Hair Mechanics owners Shane Searle and Alan Bettesworth say it is hitting their business hard.

The pair contacted the Central Leader after reading about similar parking woes for Mt Albert businesses.

It seems to be a blanket approach, Searle says.

The hairdressers are looking at leaving Onehunga after 23 years.

Parking could at least be extended to 45 minutes or an hour, Searle says.

He has been told twice by council representatives he may be better off moving to Sylvia Park where parking is supplied, he says.

"I have literally banged my head against a concrete wall with all of this for years. And it's not like we are asking a lot.

"They're going to see main-street shopping die because no one is able to park long enough."

When Searle moved the business to the upper end of Onehunga Mall, between Arthur St and Grey St, there was 45-minute parking.

Searle started a petition against the new time limits and had support from 98 per cent of nearby businesses, he says.

He has attended meetings with council representatives, the local board and Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga but nothing has changed, he says.

There is longer-term parking nearby but elderly and disabled clients find it hard to walk the distance, he says.

"What is going to happen here if we all move out? It's pushing people away from shopping strips and it's a massive loss for the local community.

"Two other hairdressers have closed down on this street and lack of parking is one of the main reasons. How much more do we have to put up with just to run our business?"

Turned On Audio owner Paul Turner says having half-hour carparks makes business hard. Customers need at least 45 minutes to sit down and chat about the products, he says.

"It takes them that long to make an informed decision. We need longer parks, simple as that."

Onehunga Business Association's Amanda Kinzett says parking has been an ongoing battle.

An upgrade for the upper section of Onehunga Mall could be in the pipeline and the organisation has requested parking restriction reviews at the same time, she says.

The upgrade was initially planned for 2003.

"I feel for the businesses. They've done everything they can and we have tried to support them. It's just disappointing when instead of ‘how can we help', we just get this brick wall.

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"They could at least trial longer times - that's what we have suggested to them."

Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board chairman Simon Randall says it is about finding a balance for town centres.

"We want high turnover in front of shops but longer-term parking either side.

"I guess from my view when you've got a limited resource like parking, it's about trying to get the fairest, most equitable use."

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan says the 30-minute parking was put in place in the 1990s. The council-controlled organisation will evaluate the parking before the upgrade kicks off, he says.

The upper section includes about 30 parking spaces and there are two longer-term parking lots nearby, he says.

"We will be consulting all stakeholders to find out what they would like to see in terms of parking restrictions. This is due to take place over the next few weeks."

- Central Leader

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