Lower Hutt trials free CBD parking

  • 07/01/2016

While some councils are battling parking problems, Lower Hutt has decided to go the opposite way - with free parking in the CBD.

This week the Hutt City Council has begun trialling a one-hour free parking policy in its main central business area as a way of attracting more shoppers.

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace recommended the trial despite international and New Zealand evidence presented to the council showing it was not an effective way to boost shopper numbers.

"But, those other cities are not Lower Hutt so that's why we are going to trial some options and monitor what happens," he said.

"We considered all views on this issue and see this trial and assessment as the most effective way to see if free parking has a positive impact on retail spend."

Local MP Chris Bishop called for the introduction of a 60-minute parking exemption in October, saying the situation was unfair to stores in the CBD compared to nearby areas.

"CBD retailers unsurprisingly find it hard to compete when everywhere has free parking except for them," he said.

The trial goes from January 7 until the end of the month, with the council to use it as evidence in a decision about a longer-term change in March.