Tweed Heads Catches The Gold Coast Disease – In Town Planning

Most people understand that town planning schemes require council’s to approve ‘adequate’ parking for commercial developments, to minimise the impact of on-street parking on surrounding areas. Councils and councillors trumpet this as them doing the job they are paid to do, or were elected to do.

However, what councils and councillors do not tell us residents and business people is how they behave completely differently when it comes to residential high density developments.

The Gold Coast is characterised by multi-level high density developments with multiple bedrooms sizeable enough for double beds and with the developments having an unsatisfactory number of off- street car parks. Why do I say an unsatisfactory number of off-street car parks? 

Firstly, it is a fatally-flawed presumption that, in sunbelts, like Gold Coast and Tweed, town planning schemes can somehow stop people owning and driving motor vehicles to and from their place of residence. We live in a region better than California! 

Secondly, in high density developments, bedroom-rooms with a double beds tend to house at least 2 people, each of whom will own a car; this usually applies in the case of the main bedroom. In the case of the second bedroom with a double bed, the occupant will have at least one car and there is usually a second car pertaining to a visitor to that room, from time to time. 

Thirdly, then there is the fatal presumption that the occupiers of the unit  will not have any visitors who drive to the facility.

So, simple grade one mathematics tells us that the demand for parking in a 2 bedroom high density development can be anything up to 3 cars per bedroom meaning up 6 off-street car parks should be available. Let’s be realistic and say 4.

So why do councils approve only  1-2 car parks per 2 bedroom unit, when they know that the parking demand cannot be satisfied and the additional 2-4 cars per unit (pertaining to the above analysis ) will need to park on the street. This means that in, say, a 20 unit high density development there is a shortage of car parking in the complex of up to 40-80 cars.  And these cars will be left with no alternative but to park in the surrounding streets, which significantly inhibits the parking available for visitors to neighbouring houses, other units and businesses.

The presumption of Councils and councillors is that high density residential developments will put the long-standing residents  in a position just like the frog in the pot of slowly boiling water: the gradual heat (congestion) just creeps up on the victims until it is too late for them to complain. 

And the Councils and councillors deflect my view by saying that developers would not develop if they had to provide adequate off-street car parking and, anyway, the presumption is that the State Government will fund better public transport (when?) which will reduce the need for residents to drive cars. What platitudinal rubbish!

And councils and councillors are supposed to be representing the existing community!

Now to Tweed Heads. There are a number of new residential developments west of Wharf Street, where the above example of insufficiency of the number of car parks for 2 bedroom units are real. For example there is a development in Enid street where there is only one car park per 2 bedroom unit! And there will undoubtedly be more such developments to come. What is happening is that businesses and residential properties in the surrounding streets in Tweed Heads are being severely impacted by a significant loss of parking for their visitors, guests and customers. As if the COVID pandemic was not enough to bear?!

That’s why I say that Tweed Heads has caught the callous (to locals) Gold Coast town planning disease.