The planning policies across state and local governments must consider “unbundling” parking spaces from apartments to help reduce costs and provide parking spaces to those who need them.

An RMIT University study that surveyed 1,300 apartment residents across Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth found that around 20% of households had too much allocated parking while roughly 14% did not have enough.

Lead researcher Dr Chris De Gruyter said residents seem to not have a choice in how many parking spots they needed when renting or buying an apartment, as reflected by the imbalance of off-site parking for apartments.

“We found in our study that people living in larger apartments tend to have an oversupply of parking because of current policies, which means they’re paying for a space they’re not using,” De Gruyter said.

In Victoria, for instance, apartments with three or more bedrooms must have at least two parking spaces according to the minimum requirements set by the Victoria Planning Provisions.

The study showed that 13.4% of households were allocated a parking space even if they did not own a car.

Dr De Gruyter estimated that with parking space costs of up to $100,000, it could mean that residents are paying $6bn worth of unused off-site parking.

“This oversupply is not just an inefficient use of space, it is exacerbating housing affordability issues — meanwhile, apartment households with an undersupply of parking are forced to park on the street, competing with visitors in the area.”

“It is very clear that there is actually plenty of apartment parking - it’s just allocated incorrectly.”

Dr De Gruyter said unbundling parking in planning policy will help balance the supply of off-site parking, not take away parking from residents.

“It was about giving people the choice to own or rent parking spaces in line with their needs — we can choose the number of bedrooms we want in our homes, yet we have no say in how much parking we need,” he said.

Newer apartment complexes such as Melbourne Square, Indi City Sydney, and Arklife in Brisbane have already unbundled parking from apartments. However, the concept is still uncommon across Australia.

“Unbundled parking is going to help with housing affordability, reduce car use and on-street parking issues,” Dr De Gruyter said.

“We’re also going to see better health for residents as there will be more physical activity due to more public transport use, and better air quality from less car use.”


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