PARKING in Nelson Bay's town centre will be governed by smart parking metres and phone applications after councillors backed an overhaul for the holiday hub.
Port Stephens councillors on Tuesday backed the introduction of free parking for residents, ratepayers and town centre employees as part of a sweeping plan to reimagine how parking works in Nelson Bay.
Mayor Ryan Palmer said the new approach was designed to address concerns about supply and demand for parking.
"We know that during busy holiday periods, parking in Nelson Bay can be in short supply," Cr Palmer said.
"Our new smart parking scheme will address many of these concerns by reducing the time it takes to find a park, making the parking process easier and improving road safety.
"After consulting with the community and businesses extensively late last year, support for a smart parking scheme with free parking for residents, ratepayers and employees of local businesses was very strong."
There will be fewer cash parking metres in the area, with the equipment to be replaced with a smartphone app, number plate recognition and sensors.
Similar technology is in place in Newcastle.
The council has also pledged that parking fees will be reinvested into Nelson Bay for landscaping, additional car parking and activation of the town centre.
"We understand businesses are doing it tough at the moment and I want to assure our business community that these changes are not expected to come into effect until well after the majority of COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted," Cr Palmer said.
"By ensuring parking turnover, providing a free parking scheme and reinvesting funds into making improvements to Nelson Bay, we know smart parking will have a positive impact on local businesses and help restart the Port Stephens economy."