Reaching the Ben Lomond peak could become an easier feat for visitors over the 2019 season if a planned $350,000 upgrade to car parking facilities gets the green light.
A planning application lodged with the Northern Midlands Council, open for public comment until November 14, describes a new 85-space lower car park on Ben Lomond Road just prior to the Carra Villa Road intersection.
An existing car park for those attempting to reach the summit without suitable vehicles or snow chains during winter is only capable of holding around 15 cars, with many visitors instead parking on the main road.
A Parks and Wildlife Service reserve activity assessment provided with the application highlighted this practice, and associated pedestrian safety concerns, as one of the issues the proposed park would address.
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The PWS assessment also explained the practice had lead to vehicles pushing into surrounding vegetation and damaging both the roadside culvert and road surface.
Works would be expected to be complete by May 2019, it continued.
The proposed car park would be located directly opposite the existing space and feature an area for a small transport service to operate from, along with a small bus stop style shelter displaying park information and entry fee registration.
Space will also be set aside for future construction of a toilet facility with further funding.
The upgrade works would see the existing car park utilised as dedicated and lockable parking for graders and PWS vehicles.
Further comment on the PWS assessment noted feedback to initial informal community consultation had been positive.
It also suggested that although initial reports indicated there were no threatened species or communities, a consultant should be engaged to survey the area.
A September study conducted by GHD found no threatened vegetation communities or flora, though it noted one species still needed to be identified.
A roadside burrow found by the study could be managed with the erection of an exclusion zone as part of the construction planning, and a pre-clearance survey or permit to take would be required before the removal of any potential hollow bearing trees, it said.
The study also recommended appropriate introduced plant, pest, and pathogen management practices would need to be implemented during the works.
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