Newcastle’s “hidden” car park is a secret no more.
The 200-space parking lot next to No.2 Sportsground was close to full on Monday morning, a year after the City of Newcastle urged motorists to make use of it.
The Smith Street car park has become a barometer of parking pressures in the city centre and how changes in the CBD are altering people’s behaviour.
A year ago, the Newcastle Heraldcounted 12 vehicles in the car park; on Monday this week that number had jumped to more than 170.
The city lost a 250-space temporary car park in Honeysuckle Drive in April last year after Doma Group started work on its Lume apartment development.
The 386-space former David Jones parking station in Perkins Street closed early in 2018 for Iris Capital’s mall redevelopment, and the light rail project has consumed more than 300 spaces across the city, according to a 2016 government review of environmental factors.
The council took over patrols at Marketown’s free undercover parking station in October after centre management complained about city workers using it all day.
All-day parking at No.2 Sportsground costs $6, or $5 using the council’s EasyPark mobile app.
Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation opened a 24-space car park near the new tram depot in Hannell Street last month, and Doma will start work soon on a 678-space parking station on the Store site.
The Store car park will provide private, paid parking for about 12 to 18 months but ultimately will be reserved for residents and workers in the two 30-storey towers Doma plans to build on the site.
A City of Newcastle spokesperson said the popularity of the No.2 Sportsground car park showed commuters were “increasingly willing to park and walk, especially if the walk is less than 10 minutes”.
It is understood the council is talking to HCCDC about continuing the park-and-ride bus from Hunter Stadium, which HCCDC had agreed to fund until next month.
“Last Tuesday saw a record 227 commuters use the park and ride,” the council spokesperson said. “Also last Wednesday we saw a record 191 cars parked at the stadium using the park and ride.”
The spokesperson said the Mall parking station on King Street and the multi-storey car park in Gibson Street, near Union Street, had free spaces every day.
“Data from our parking meters show that at 1pm any day of the week almost 20 per cent of car spaces in the city are available.”
Many traders have told the Herald that lack of parking is the main reason their revenue has not recovered since Hunter Street reopened to traffic in July.