Brief history of Hamilton’s minimum parking requirements

Judging by the past 60 years of minimum parking requirements (MPR), we can assume we are now 5 times more dependent on the car to get to convenience stores, yet at the same time we assume industries are 3 times less dependent on the motor vehicle. In Hamilton, MPR started with the Town and Country Planning Act 1953, which under the title, ‘Matters to be dealt with in District Schemes’ 5. … car parks … off street provision for vehicles while loaded or unloaded or standing. (p54)’, addressed:

Second schedule matters to be dealt with in district schemes page54

The ‘off street provision for vehicles while loaded or unloaded or standing’ was easily included by putting the responsibility on the property owners themselves.

1960s Hamilton District Scheme

The 1960s Hamilton District Scheme assumed that any commercial office, shop, library, depot, warehouse, store or storage yard would need one car park for every 1,000 sq ft (93m2) of gross floor area. Requirements for industrial premises and service stations were half of the above.

1960s Hamilton District Scheme

The 1970s District Scheme update added and changed the names of categories; removing names like restaurant, club hall, service station for motor vehicles, administrative, professional and commercial offices. It increased parking requirements for shops to 1 car park for each 250 sq. ft. (23m2) of gross floor area. My notes also say it was proposed that a dairy’s gross floor area (gfa) was not to exceed 80m2 and required one loading space and three parking spaces. Each car park was to be 12m2, giving a total area of 48+80=128m2. Other notes from Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd suggested a dairy’s gfa upper limit of 150m2 would be reasonable and practical, giving a total area of 72+150=222m2.

Resilient but totally illegal dairy

The 1980s District Scheme review again added and/or changed the name of categories: there are now dozens of categories with very specific car-parking requirements. If you open a retail shop in a commercial 3 zone you now need 5.5 car parks for every 100m2 of gross floor area plus 1 loading park for each shop (100m2 shop plus 78m2 for car parking), or for industrial premises, 1 car park for every 80m2 of gross floor area. It had been 1 for every 500 sq ft (46m2) of gross floor area.

Successful but totally illegal neighbourhood shops having over 1,000m2 of gross floor area and fewer than half the car parks required by 1970 District Scheme

In the 1990s City of Hamilton Town Plan, more parking data were added and/or changed. Space needed per car park is now calculated as 24m2 (was 12m2 in the 1970s DS) and was valued at $12,000 back in 1990. Dairies now need one 24m2 car park space for every 16m2 of gfa. Industrial premises must provide one car park for every 50m2 of gfa; it was 1 per 80m2 in the 1980s and 1 per 46m2 in the 1960s.

In the 2012 District Plan rule 5.2, we now have an almost endless list of categories. Dairies (retail activities less than 5,000m2) must now have 1 car park space per 20m2 of gfa plus 1 loading zone. Industrial premises now require 1 parking space per 60m2 of gfa.

Lastly, the current 2017 district Plan Appendix 15 Transportation has four pages of car park categories and requirements. Dairies (retail activities less than 5,000m2) are still 1 car park space per 20m2 of gfa plus 1 loading zone: it was one car park for every 1,000 sq ft (93m2) in the 1960s. Industrial premises now require 1 car park per 150m2 of gfa: it was once one car park per 500 sq ft (46m2). Over the past 60 years of minimum parking requirements (MPR), we now appear to be 5 times more dependent on the car to get to the local convenience store, yet industries are 3 times less dependent on the motor vehicle, or have the freedom to base parking supply on its value to the business.

Explanation of MPR from – NZTA National Parking Management Guidance p64 – ‘Minimum Parking Requirements are district plan rules requiring new buildings and/or activities to include a fixed number of offstreet parking spaces based on an assumed [meaning: suppose to be the case, without proof] demand for parking generated by the buildings use’, and from Hamilton’s 1990s Town Plan explains, ‘These requirements do not necessarily represent the level of supply which would ensure the efficient or economic operation of any particular activity’ (4.2.3 page 91).

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