The introduction of paid parking later this year at what is soon to be Western Australia’s biggest shopping centre has drawn the ire of customers, who have threatened to shop locally or online to avoid paying.
Scentre Group, which owns and operates Westfield Shopping centres in Australia, confirmed paid parking after the first three hours will be introduced at its Cannington shopping centre, known as Westfield Carousel.
The fees will kick in when a $350 million redevelopment is completed later this year.
License plate recognition technology is already being rolled out at carpark entry and exit points at the centre.
It will be the first time Scentre Group has introduced paid parking in WA.
While Scentre Group would not be drawn on how much shoppers can expect to pay, its charges range from $5 to $40 at interstate car parks.
Shoppers will avoid payment if they park for less than three hours but will face escalating costs after that.
Despite Scentre Group’s promise of a “one-of-a-kind retail, dining and entertainment destination” at Westfield Carousel, boasting 12 new restaurants and a refurbished 14 screen Hoyts cinema, shoppers appeared unimpressed at the prospect of paying for stays longer than three hours. Photo: Riza Coe and her daughter Cy said the fees were unfair. (ABC News: Rebecca Carmody)
“It’s a bit unfair,” shopper Riza Coe, from Langford, told the ABC.
“We should have free parking because when you’re shopping here you want to stay longer, especially when it’s busy.”
Ian Farrar, from Parkwood, said pensioners would be hit hardest because they stayed the longest and could least afford to pay.
“There’s no need for it, they have profits, they have money, there’s no need to raise any more from the public, they get plenty of shoppers here,” Mr Farrar said.
“People will end up shopping online or they’ll go to their own local shops because that’s where I’ll be going.”
Brad Buka, from Byford, said he parked at Westfield Carousel six times a week for seven hours at a time, as he caught a train at the nearby Cannington train station to the city for work.
“I’ll have to find somewhere else to park, I won’t be parking here,” he said. How it will work?
All number plates will be scanned and recorded on entry, and on exit the boomgates will automatically open if shoppers are under the three-hour free parking limit.
Shoppers exceeding the free parking period will be required to pay at a pay station or with a credit card at the exit gate.
If a car returns on the same day, there needs to be a 45-minute break, otherwise charges will apply.
Drivers who register with Westfield can add their credit or debit card details, allowing them to drive straight and be charged automatically.
Shoppers with a disability or ACROD parking permit will not incur parking fees, as long as they register with centre management.
Shopping centre staff will be charged a flat daily rate, which is around $5 at interstate carparks.
Movie-goers are expected to get an additional one hour free, but will need to scan the barcodes of their tickets. Photo: The new parking ticket machines installed at Westfield Carousel. (ABC News: Rebecca Carmody)
In a statement, Scentre Group confirmed it was introducing a “smarter parking experience” at Westfield Carousel, but said it did not have a start date.
“Experience in other centres has shown the introduction of a smarter parking system ensures more spaces are available more often, and also helps ease congestion and streamline entry and exits,” the statement said.
“Once launched, the majority of customers will continue to park free of charge with a three-hour free parking period implemented.”
The statement said the new system would include valet parking with a dedicated parking team and Uber pick-up and drop-off zones within the centre.
Westfield said it did not have any plans to introduce paid parking at its other WA centres — Whitford City and Innaloo — but could not rule it out in future. Government pushing parking fee agenda
The WA Department of Transport has been encouraging bigger shopping centres to introduce paid parking as a way of “discouraging commuter use”.
Shopping centres seeking developmental approvals for large expansions are required to submit a Parking Supply and Management Plan (PSMP) in advance.
Department guidelines suggest PSMPs outline a centre’s policies and commitments regarding parking controls, time limits and fees, and how they will be enforced.
The department’s stated objectives include: increasing the proportion of people using public transport, minimising traffic congestion around shopping centres, especially during peak times; minimising overflow parking problems around the centre.
Its parking guidelines state centres can discourage commuter use by “providing escalating parking fees (especially over 5 or more hours), keeping long term parking areas closed during the morning peak, and restricting employees from parking in customer-only spaces.”