Why do we want to implement a Citywide Visitor Paid Parking Scheme?

    The Council resolved at the September 2022 Council meeting that we ask the Blue Mountains community for their thoughts on a Citywide Parking Scheme, including proposed Visitor Paid Parking. This was stage one of community consultation. Why?

    • The City’s infrastructure needs major investment (at least $400 million) to be 'Fit for Future' and better withstand the effects of climate change.
    • Grants and projects will only cover less than one third of the current need, and none of the additional maintenance needed in the future.  
    • A Citywide Parking Scheme, where visitors pay to park, will generate income for the City that we need to withstand the cost of increasing natural disasters and to fund maintenance, as well as the renewal of services, facilities and infrastructure (including repair of the road network).

    Permits will be available for Blue Mountains residents, ratepayers, businesses and their employees for FREE parking. Carer Permits will also be available for FREE parking for those who live outside the Blue Mountains and care for a local resident, as well as for contractors who are temporarily working in the Blue Mountains.

    Why introduce a Citywide Parking Scheme to the Blue Mountains?

    • The Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is one of the most visited destinations in the southern hemisphere, but currently most visitors do not contribute to the financial cost of managing the City. This new plan means that visitors will help fund the critically-required renewal of services, facilities and infrastructure including the repair of the road network after natural disasters.
    • The introduction of smart parking (including sensors in key locations) means that data on parking behaviours will be available to Council, residents and businesses. Smart parking will help improve traffic management in the City ensuring there is traffic turnover at key locations, which in turn will help local businesses and the local economy.
    • It is expected that more than 4 million visitors will travel to the Blue Mountains in 2023, now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, and this figure is expected to increase to at least 5 million from 2024 onwards. Sustainable tourism, that respects our unique World Heritage Area, is vital for our local economy. Smart parking will help manage the increasing numbers of visitors who travel here.

    What is the Parking Strategic Plan 2022?

    The Parking Strategic Plan, endorsed at the 28 February 2023 Council Meeting, provides a strategic framework to improve traffic and transport functionality across the City including a paid parking scheme that manages traffic demand and congestion while providing revenue for visitor and resident infrastructure.

    What is smart parking?

    Smart parking is the implementation of an integrated system of five smart parking functions, being: 

    • Vehicle sensors that provide data on parking behaviours.
    • Parking meters taking payments.
    • Phone application showing real-time parking availability and taking payments.
    • Digital permit system; and 
    • Contemporary enforcement equipment 

    The overall combination of these features is titled Smart Parking and it is proposed to not only improve the traffic management within the city, but supply a service to the community and a revenue stream to Council to invest in much needed disaster recovery and repair of roads and enhanced service provision to residents and visitors.

    Who will be implementing smart parking in the City?

    At the February 2023 Council Meeting, the Council accepted the tender for DCA Cities Holding Pty Ltd for the Citywide Parking Project. This tender will provide a holistic service for this project including the implementation of smart parking functions such as sensors, parking metres, a phone application for payments, digital permits, modern enforcement equipment and digital signage.

    Where is smart parking to be implemented, and when?

    The smart parking project is to be rolled out in stages.

    Stage 1 - from July 2023

    Smart parking (sensors, parking meters and signage) will be rolled out in existing time restricted parking locations in town/village centres at:

    • Blackheath
    • Katoomba
    • Leura
    • Wentworth Falls and 
    • Glenbrook. Please note: sensors only will be installed in Glenbrook town centre in Stage 1 in order to analyse current traffic turnover in the village, given its proximity to Penrith.

    Smart parking will also be rolled out in existing time restricted parking zones at the following key visitation sites: 

    • Echo Point, Katoomba. This is to bring Echo Point in line with the new Citywide Parking Permit Scheme.
    • Lincoln's Rock, Wentworth Falls. This rollout has been brought forward due to requests from residents in the area.

    Stage 2 - from November 2023

    It is expected that high demand visitation sites will also have smart parking facilities (including sensors and parking metres) operational by November 2023, once a Parking Precinct Plan has been publicly exhibited and endorsed. These sites include:

    • Cahill’s & Boar’s Head Lookouts, Katoomba
    • Echo Point Precinct, Katoomba (expansion of existing)
    • Katoomba Falls
    • Gordon Falls, Leura
    • Leura Cascades
    • Wentworth Falls Lake
    • Falls Road adjacent to Wentworth Falls Lookout
    • Fletcher Street and Valley Road adjacent to Conservation Hut, Wentworth Falls
    • Lincoln’s Rock, Wentworth Falls (expansion of existing).

    What types of permits will be available?

    Resident Parking Permit

    Resident permits provide FREE parking across the Blue Mountains Local Government Area (LGA):

    • These FREE permits are validated through verification of a NSW Government approved driver’s licence and a vehicle registration, that display the place of residence in the Blue Mountains. There is no cap on the number of vehicles that can receive a FREE parking permit for residents. Once a valid resident owned vehicle is registered, the digital permit applies until the vehicle is transferred, or the resident moves.
    • All non-resident ratepayers are also eligible for a FREE parking permit by providing a BMCC rates notice with a postal address, that is the same as a vehicle registration address.Meanwhile, residents who have a vehicle registered with an address that is outside the Blue Mountains, can apply for a FREE parking permit in the Blue Mountains by providing evidence of where they reside in the City and completing an additional form.

    Please note: Residents still need to adhere to existing regulated timed parking restrictions in all locations throughout the City.

    Business and Employee Parking Permits

    Business and employee permits provide FREE parking within town and village centres in the Blue Mountains but exclude key tourist visitation sites (unless the business is located at that key tourist visitation site). The provision of business and employee permits is to allow these individuals to park for FREE near their workplace. 

    • These permits are to be managed by business owners (or a nominated business manager), on behalf of employees.
    • This will allow for a FREE permit for each employee’s motor vehicle. Permits will need to be renewed annually to preserve validity.  The only exception is at Echo Point, where FREE parking for businesses and employees will be in 8P time restricted parking zones only.  

    Please note: Businesses and their employees still need to adhere to existing regulated timed parking restrictions throughout the City.

    Carer’s Parking Permits

    In pay parking zones, permits will enable carers (including those from outside the Blue Mountains) to park for FREE.

    • Validation will require proof of residency within the Blue Mountains, for the resident being cared for.  This will be coupled with proof of a driver’s licence and ownership of vehicle, for the carer receiving the permit. The submission of a completed Carer Parking Permit Application Form is also required for each permit request.

    Please note: Carers still need to adhere to existing regulated timed parking restrictions throughout the City.  

    Temporary Contractor Parking Permits

    In pay parking zones, permits will enable temporary contractors (including those from outside the Blue Mountains) to park for FREE for up to 90 days at a time.

    • Validation will require a driver’s licence and ownership of vehicle, for the contractor to receive a temporary permit.  The submission of a completed Contractor Permit Application Form is also required for each permit request.

    Please note: Contractors still need to adhere to existing regulated timed parking restrictions throughout the City.  

    Other permits

    BMCC is currently investigating other types of permits that may be needed for people who live outside the Blue Mountains LGA, as part of the Visitor Pay Smart Parking project.

    How do I apply for a permit?

    There will be six steps to apply and receive a digital permit:

    1. Go to Council's website and navigate to permits (this will be available when the scheme commences in July 2023). Please Note: There will be a 3-month transition period, from 1 July to 30 September 2023, to enable residents, ratepayers, businesses, employees, carers and contractors to apply for FREE parking permits before any compliance activity commences for visitor pay parking. 
    2. Click to apply for a Blue Mountains City Council permit.
    3. Enter details and submit NSW Government approved identification or proof of employment.
    4. Approval process conducted.
    5. Once the permit is approved the user is notified through email and can park for free as the permit allows.

    What will it cost visitors to park?

    The pricing structure for visitor paid parking will be finalised by the elected Council at the June 2023 Council Meeting. Visitors will be given the option to pay to park for 15-minutes, one hour, or daily at key locations and there will be peak and off-peak periods.

    An App, that will also launch for Stage 1 of the scheme, will show real-time parking availability and take payments from visitors only.  

    How will income raised from the Citywide Parking Scheme be distributed?

    Parking income will continue to build the City Investment Fund reserve. This fund will be used for: 

    • Maintaining, renewing and upgrading City infrastructure and day to day operational services as required such as roads and drainage, footpaths and cycleways, sport and recreation facilities and natural area visitor facilities. 
    • Investing in services and assets to ensure they are resilient and 'Fit for the Future'.
    • Investing in the infrastructure required to manage visitor parking. 
    • Funding the operating costs associated with the raising of visitor income such as parking enforcement, place management and repayment of borrowings for infrastructure.
    • Implementing a strategic approach to Tourism and Economic Development to support local businesses and employment.

    Are Citywide Parking Schemes common in other places?

    Smart parking is now common within other larger municipalities and Councils with similar, if not less, visitation demands. 

    Various Councils, such as Gold Coast Council, have successfully tried and tested the sensor technologies that will be rolled out in the Blue Mountains.

    The digital permit scheme has also been verified and successfully implemented by Councils such as Brisbane City Council, with orders of magnitude and far greater scale than in the Blue Mountains.

    The parking meters have been used nationwide and Council’s chosen phone application has over a million users in Australia, receiving high ratings and usage.

    Will this scheme deter visitors from coming to the Blue Mountains?

    No. The pricing scheme will also be set to incentivise longer stay visitations, with discounted parking given to those with longer stays in the region.

    The Blue Mountains is again welcoming over four million visitors, annually.

    These visitors come through a range of transportation methods such as cars, tour buses, private minibuses and public transport. Even with this range of transportation options, there will be a large amount of vehicles entering Blue Mountains towns, villages and key visitation sites. 

    The number of visitors is expected to dramatically increase with the expanding development of Western Sydney, coupled with the Western Sydney International Airport. 

    The local infrastructure and layout of the towns and villages were not designed to absorb high vehicle demands. 

    Rolling out a paid parking scheme will allow Council to:

    • help fund the critically-required renewal of services, facilities and infrastructure, including repair of the road network, in the Blue Mountains.
    • manage and monitor the parking within the Blue Mountains and offset any infrastructure damage, as well as necessary upgrades, to facilitate the large visitation numbers.

    Is a Citywide Parking Scheme bad for local businesses?

    No, it is not be bad for local businesses. 

    The visitor paid parking scheme will encourage turnover at high demand locations, meaning more visitors can use these parking areas which in turn increases visitation to the surrounding areas.

    We have seen success with smart parking technologies used in Leura.

    Why do we have time restrictions?

    Time restricted parking locations already exist in town centres in the Blue Mountains.

    The activation of smart parking technologies will help manage visitor pay parking and parking turnover in our town centres, in stage one.  This will also occur in key visitation sites, in stage two.

    Timed parking zones provide equitable access to parking spaces by increasing parking turnover. It manages the competition between short-medium term parking and all-day parking.

    Anyone with a free parking permit will still have to adhere to time restrictions, as they do now.