Council to look at free parking

THE Launceston City Council will consider a proposal to offer two hours of free parking at three of the city's car parks.

But adopting the proposal would likely cost the council up to $1 million a year.

The council allows two hours of free parking at its Elizabeth Street, Paterson East and Paterson West car parks between 3.30pm and 5.30pm, but Cityprom has asked for the offer to be extended to any time of the day from Monday to Saturday.

The organisation found parking was a big issue for shoppers in its CBD visitation survey, conducted last year.

Three-quarters of 151 survey respondents said limited and expensive parking deterred visitation, and more than one-third of respondents said there should be cheaper parking options.

A little under half of the survey respondents supported a one-hour free-parking option, about one-third supported free parking from 9am until 11am from Monday to Saturday, and one-fifth supported the council's current initiative.

Cityprom executive officer Vanessa Cahoon said free parking trials were being used in Geelong to boost declining retail and hospitality patronage.

"We would certainly be encouraging of a trial period for the city," she said.

"If the results aren't supported then at least we have good solid evidence to prove otherwise."

Council general manager Robert Dobrzynski said the proposed three- month trial was likely to cost $300,000.

If adopted full-time, he said the free-parking initiative would cost the city between $900,000 and $1 million.

"We would need to be sure that this would be a scene changer for the CBD," he said.

He said the council had a plan to revitalise the central city under the Greater Launceston Plan to account for declining visitation, in favour of the Kings Meadows and Mowbray shopping centres.

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