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Gary Stewart and Lyn Patterson get behind the save a space campaign

6 November 2020

Masterton District Council is urging drivers to save parking spaces for those who really need them before taking in-demand spots.

The council has launched a ‘Save a Space’ campaign aimed at easing demand for Queen Street parking and maximising use of hundreds of nearby free parks.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said there was plenty of parking just five minutes’ walk from town that was under-utilised.

“There are more than 700 parking spaces across 15 public carparks in our town centre, but much of the time they sit empty,” Lyn said.

“Masterton drivers are in the habit of circling the block to find a park right outside the shop they want to visit – that’s exactly what I do. That may be human nature in a small town, but it is an inefficient use of time – we’ve done the maths and it’s often faster to head to a council carpark and do the short walk into Queen Street.”

The council has launched an interactive map on its website showing all the council carparks, the number of parking spaces within each carpark, and how long it takes to walk to town from the park.

“I was surprised that the longest walk is six minutes,” Lyn said.

“I’m a big fan of parking outside the shop that I want to visit, but I can certainly walk that far if it means someone who has young children or limited mobility can use a space instead of me.”

Masterton’s population is growing and the council is looking at a longer-term plan for meeting the parking needs of the community. In the meantime, habits need to change, Lyn said.

“As our town continues to grow, we need to change our behaviour to help manage demand.”

The council is seeking a contractor to reconfigure the Essex Street carpark that will see the number of parking spaces increase slightly.

“This reconfiguration was a good opportunity to see where we can make some small gains, but it doesn’t negate the need for us to change our habits,” Lyn said.

The ‘Save a Space’ campaign will also include signage prompting people to save a space for those that need it and improved signposting to council carparks.

Gary Stewart, Property Manager with Bosch Property Management, said the company fully supported the initiative and could see benefits for its tenants along Queen Street.

“It’s important that parks are set aside wherever and whenever possible for those who really need them,” Gary said.

The company manages a number of buildings on Queen Street with a good mix of national and local tenancies.

“It is time for a proactive approach to get people parking in fringe car parks. It was excellent seeing so many families out walking during the COVID-19 lockdown. All the council is asking is for those able bodied enough, to allow a little extra time to get to their destination.”

Gary said the company offered customer parking at Briscoes and Farmers underground carparks which were are under-utilised.

“These carparks are sitting there waiting to be used. Let’s get moving Masterton and step up to the challenge.”

The campaign is based on council research undertaken via a survey in September. More than 260 responses were received, which Communications and Marketing Manager Shanna Vatselias said was a strong response.

“Our intention was to better understand why people park where they do, and what would encourage them to make better use of council carparks,” Shanna said.

The research found that while convenience was the biggest factor in searching for street parking, people also thought it was very important for those with less mobility or young children to have access to parks closer to where they shopped.

“About two-thirds of drivers said they would park further away if it meant the space would be used by someone who needed it more. We’re wanting to see that put into action,” Shanna said.