Plan ahead – that’s the message from event organisers preparing for a bumper few days in Newcastle, after free weekend parking in the CBD dropped by more than 10 per cent this week.
The Lee Wharf car park at Honeysuckle was permanently closed on Tuesday as part of a plan to replace the 257-vehicle-spaces with Doma Group’s Lume apartment development.
It came days before a big weekend in the city, with Newcastle Writers’ Festival, Newcastle Beer Fest, the Olive Tree Markets and Spiegeltent shows on the cards – as well as a Knights NRL match at Broadmeadow.
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While a Hunter Development Corporation flyer distributed across town points out the location of the city’s remaining parking lots – a total of 4311 spaces – the Lee Wharf closure represents a 12.7 per cent drop in free weekend car parks in the city. The NSW government agency released the land to Doma Group for development in September, 2016.
HDC CEO Michael Cassel said the sale was completed last month after development approval was granted for the site in February.
“The car park at 21 Honeysuckle Drive was always intended to be temporary and its closure is necessary to support further growth in the city centre,” he said.
Newcastle Writers’ Festival director Rosemarie Milsom said she was encouraging festival-goers to consider car pooling, using public transport and avoiding King Street east of Union Street if they had no choice but to drive.
“Our message is have a think before the weekend, plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time,” she said.
“Don’t bring your car into the city if you don’t need to.”
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But Ms Milsom said the best parking for the festival would be the Harbour Park Car Park on Argyle Street, which would have a $5 flat rate for the day, and the lot on King Street – entry via Gibson Street – which would have a $6.50 flat rate.
The King Street car park would also be useful for people attending the Olive Tree Markets or Spiegeltent shows in the Civic precinct.
Newcastle Beer Fest organiser Luke Tilse said the closure was “poor timing”.
“But you’ve just got to cop it – you’ve just got to keep ploughing through,” he said.
Mr Tilse, who used to run Honeysuckle venue The Dockyard, said the bigger concern was for businesses on the waterfront strip, where high rents meant having fewer customers would hit some operators hard.
“I don’t think they [HDC] understand how much it’s going to affect that area,” he said.
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said it was great to see the city growing, “however with more developments and more apartments in the CBD, there is a growing infrastructure demand that is not being catered for”.
A map of the city’s remaining car parks can be downloaded from HDC’s website.
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