A transport consultant has defended the lack of parking at University of Newcastle's proposed Honeysuckle campus in the face of criticism from Newcastle council and the NSW Department of Planning.
A concept plan for the campus includes just 12 parking spaces for a redevelopment which will accommodate 6500 students and staff.
The plan was placed on public exhibition last year and is back on public exhibition on the Department of Planning website until Thursday next week.
Documents accompanying the plan include a response from consultants SECA Solution to concerns raised by the department and council about "unrealistic" assumptions made in the project's transport strategy.
SECA's transport assessment, completed for the university, said 54 per cent of students would walk to the campus, 39 per cent would catch public transport, 7 per cent would ride.
A university-run survey last year showed 42 per cent of students were driving to classes at existing university buildings in the inner-city.
The SECA parking strategy for the project was based on the prediction that about two thirds of staff and students would live in suburbs surrounding the inner-city when the new campus was built.
It also suggested there was a "surplus of parking provision" in the CBD.
City of Newcastle planning staff pushed back against these assumptions, labelling them "unrealistic" and "unproven" in a response to the concept plan.
The council staff supported the ideal of getting commuters out of their cars but said parking was limited in the CBD and too expensive for students.
SECA, in a letter to university project manager Carole Mandicourt-Jones on July 4, says the Department of Planning "does not accept the assumptions contained within the Transport Access Strategy and is concerned that potential future impacts are not adequately addressed".
"The Department understands that the parking analysis and Mode of Transport to NeW Space survey provided indicates a significant percentage of students and staff are likely to travel by car," the consultant says.
But SECA argues other inner-city universities, including University of Technology Sydney, have demonstrated that squeezing parking supply can drive "mode shift" to other forms of transport.
"Targets of alternative modes of transport of up to 93% for students and 85% for staff have been adopted for recent UTS developments," it says in its response to doubts over the parking plan.
SECA acknowledges Newcastle's rapid redevelopment and university changes have created a "lag in mode shift ... reflected in the continuing demand for some to travel by private vehicle and hence a demand for parking".
But it highlights that the 150 car spaces the university is leasing for students and staff in the Gibson Street parking station are underused.
The university's staged Honeysuckle redevelopment will replace the 181-space Wright Lane car park, but SECA argues the "potential impact by the development on on-street parking is considered minimal".
The consultant's response also says students and staff are already changing their travel behaviour at the university's two-year-old NeW Space building in Hunter Street.
It says data on NeW Space's bike hub shows 1638 people used the hub from March 4 to 17 this year, or 117 per day, compared with 820 in the corresponding period last year.
"Current parking patterns associated with staff do not reflect future patterns as over time new staff may choose to locate close to the city whilst current staff are less likely to relocate," it says.
"Regardless of whether a student comes from regional NSW, another capital city or from overseas they will be able to arrive into Newcastle and rely on the city centre and public transport to meet their transport needs."