How Much Parking do I Need?

parked carsThis article is the second in a series on parking and explores the question "How Much Parking Do I Need?".

Part One looking at the changing regulations in Auckland is here.

In subsequent articles we will provide some advice on how you might be able to make do with less parking, discuss what to do when the number of spaces you need is different to the number permitted by the rules, and look at parking in relation to subdivision design.  Some of our other articles deal with the design of parking to maximise efficiency.


If you already have a good level of experience with the activity you are seeking resource consent for, then you may already have a good idea of how much parking you currently need based on observation of your existing parking resource and future plans for your activity. For a smaller operation this might be as simple as looking out the window and seeing how many parking spaces are empty, or asking staff.  If you have a larger operation then it's possible that insufficient parking or alternative transport options may be sending your customers to a competitor.  

A quick and simple guide to parking requirements can be obtained by referring to the planning rules for your area, but in many cases these are not particularly helpful.  Some District Plans have minimum parking rates that are low, perhaps to encourage that type of activity, or because the availability of off-site parking is plentiful.  Some plans have maximum rates setting limits on the number of spaces that are able to be provided, typically to reduce peak-hour traffic congestion.  Other plans may have rates that are wrong for your particular circumstances.  Some of these problems can be reduced by referring to the parking rules in several different Council areas.

If you don't have a good understanding of your parking demand and supply dynamics then a traffic engineer could assist by measuring or estimating the parking demand.  A parking demand estimate is ideally based on surveys of activities similar to yours in a similar environment.  

In some instances it isn't viable to undertake a survey of a similar activity, perhaps because there isn't a similar activity, demand is seasonal and waiting for the right season isn't workable, or because surveying a similar activity isn't practical or desirable.  In those cases a traffic engineer may be able to derive an estimate from previous surveys and apply them to your circumstances.

A parking demand estimate based on surveys of other activities, whether new or from older sources, usually requires the application of some engineering judgement based on experience to account for differences between your proposal and those surveyed.  In this respect choosing an engineer with experience in this area is important.

It's also useful to consider any opportunities or constraints to the provision of parking.  Providing parking is expensive, but in some cases providing too few parking spaces can also be expensive if it means the activity will be operating below it's potential.  In some cases there will be planning minimum or maximum parking rules to consider as well, and the supply of parking in other areas near the site is an obvious consideration in deciding how many parking spaces are needed.

Once you have a reasonable understanding of what your parking demand and supply figures are you are able to consider how the demand for parking might be reduced through travel planning measures and a good transport consultant can assist you in developing such a plan.  A good traffic engineer can also help to maximise the parking supply that you can achieve on a given site.  We will deal with each of these in a future article.  In the meantime if you have a parking issue we can help with, please get in touch.

Wes Edwards

Recent Articles

This article is the second in a series on parking and explores the question "How Much Parking Do I Need?".
This article is the first in a series on parking and we will be looking at the changing regulations around the provision of parking in Auckland.