There’s a hot new trend in apartments, and it’s all about what buyers and tenants don’t get – car parking.

More and more high and medium density apartments are acting on the transit-oriented development ethos and actively promoting the use of nearby public transport by not providing car parks for many or, in some rare cases, any of the apartments. In exchange, some are offering scooter or motorbike parking, in addition to bicycle spaces, and others are even throwing in a free Vespa for buyers or providing a car-sharing service.

In Melbourne, it is not mandatory for all apartments in a development to be provided with car spaces. According to City of Melbourne, planning scheme amendment C133, which came into effect in 2010 and applies to Carlton, Southbank and parts of North Melbourne, West Melbourne and East Melbourne, allows the provision of zero on-site car parking spaces and places a discretionary limit of one car parking space per dwelling for developments over four storeys.

The council’s website states: “Through a demographic and accessibility analysis undertaken by Ratio Consultants for the City of Melbourne, it was determined that the areas affected by Amendment C133 are equally suitable for such a maximum car parking rate. The affected areas have excellent accessibility to public transport and other facilities.

“Car parking spaces add considerably to the cost of new dwellings. This amendment responds to the market demand for dwellings with no or minimal parking.

“This amendment to the Melbourne Planning Scheme aims to enable lower levels of on-site parking for new developments that have excellent access to public transport and goods and services. In some cases this could mean some new developments do not allocate any on-site car spaces for dwellings.”

Developers of some of Melbourne’s massive new tower projects have taken the minimal parking mantra onboard, with a number of mega-tall apartments offering no car parking for one-bedroom and sometimes also a proportion of the two-bedroom apartments.

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • Mammoth Empire’s MY 80 Silver Skies on Elizabeth Street – 486 apartments, only 150 car spaces
  • Mammoth Empire’s Empire Melbourne on Elizabeth St – 465 apartments, 96 car spaces and 76 bike spaces
  • PDG and Schiavello’s Abode 318 on Russel St – 433 apartments, 150 bike racks, car share system
  • ICD Property’s Eq. Tower on A’Beckett St – 632 apartments, 212 car spaces, 212 bike spaces
  • Apex Vic’s 256-260 City Road Southbank – 439 apartments, 99 car spaces, 160 bike spaces

Outside the CBD itself, the 168-unit Ella in South Yarra by Spec Property Group offered about 20 one-bedroom apartments with scooter parking instead of car parking, and sweetened the deal by giving buyers a free Vespa.

The free Vespa was also a tactic used by Serra Property Group for its 38 High Street Toowong project, which had about 10 one-bedroom apartments sold without regular carparking but with a scooter park, the scooter, plus 12 months scooter registration and the helmet as well.

The project is located in a public transport hub, and that means residents don’t need a car, according to Bruce Goddard, a spokesman for Place Projects, who marketed the development.

“It epitomises the concept of inner-city living which council is advocating, and more and more people are gravitating towards,” Mr Goddard said.

“There are a multitude of public transport options, with a bus stop just 10 metres away, the Toowong train station 50 metres away and the CityCat located 500 metres away, and being an inner city suburb, situated only a few kilometres from the CBD, it’s very easy to get around.”

The City of Port Phillip in Melbourne also has its own sustainable parking policy.

The sustainable parking demand rate ranges for residential and office land uses:

  • Residential land uses: 0-0.8 car parking spaces per one bedroom dwelling and one space per three or more bedroom dwelling
  • Office land uses: 2-3 spaces per 100 square metres for unshared parking, and 2-2.8 spaces per 100 sq m for shared parking

The policy takes into account proximity to public transport and activity centres, participation in car share programs, and contributions to sustainable transport infrastructure when considering reduced rates of parking.

A medium-density Adelaide project named after the scooters and completed in 2011, Vespa Apartments in Storr Street, was an early adopter of the no car park trend. Located 100m away from a bus station and 500m from the CBD, the seven apartments of the complex were provided only with motorbike parking.

Vespa was one of two no-car projects showcased in the Council of SEQ Mayors Portfolio of Leading Practice Medium Density Housing Design. The other, Brisbane Housing Corporation’s Oxenham Apartments in Nundah, Brisbane, comprises 67 apartments, and no private car parking whatsoever. The apartments are an affordable housing development and located 400m to both train and bus stops.

Australand is also adding the concept to its sustainability suite at Discovery Point on the southern fringe of inner-city Sydney. Many of the apartments have no parking, and Domain reported that all of those apartments sold out quickly, as more buyers look to utilise public transport, cycling, and car share arrangements instead of paying the additional premium car parking adds to the price of an apartment.

Australand has also announced that car sharing company GoGet will have several vehicles based at the development.

This is part of the approach Frasers Property and Sekisui House have taken at One Central Park, with more than half of more than 1000 apartments sold at the development without car parking, and Sydney’s largest car share pod established on site.

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  1. Watch Jeff Speck – The walkable city and see what Urban Integration Working Group is proposing to do in our cities. Who is all about creating vibrant, resilient, healthy and sustainable urban communities through the construction of low impact zero carbon urban developments. And yes we will offset what we can not eliminate during design, construction and life of the development.

  2. You can live a perfectly satisfactory life without a car. I lived in a tower in Sydney – Castlereagh Street – which had been built with a car space for each apartment. So many of them were empty – wasting 7 floors of the building – that they turned it into a public car park.

    I’ve lived in suburban Rostrevor 5073 without a car. You soon learn where your walkable shops are – in that case, 10 minutes in two directions – and know the bus timetable by heart.

    There’s absolutely no need to have a car if you don’t want one. And it’s a great learning experience too about location efficiency. And if all else fails, rent one for the day, or take a taxi, its much cheaper than owning.

    1. I think it’s brilliant to have gained a public car park area in this way – an excellent reason for having the parking spaces there in the first place so that it could be done! Such a result takes the pressure off parking that excessive developments in a small area brings (so I’m afraid this doesn’t convince me not to have the car parking spaces in the first place). Having such public parking spaces adds to the amenity of the local area, just like having green spaces does (and developers do not often incorporate these into their plans either – in my area they often build right to the boundary, with little or no garden or courtyard areas).
      And I fully agree that children shouldn’t be driven everywhere but there are times that it is necessary – my guess is that you don’t have any young children and nor have you lived with any. Unexpected sickness in the middle of the night, going to places not readily accessible by public transport – the average 4 year old simply can’t walk or bike far, especially accompanied by a 2 year old sibling, and even strollers don’t help that much. Yet keeping in touch with other family members is important even if it does mean a car journey, just like walking back with the enormous grocery parcels a family requires is not always possible. There is a big difference between being a single person answerable only to oneself and having commitments to other people. Surely you don’t think only singles should live in the inner suburbs?

    1. Actually James I agree with you that cars are not always necessary- but if you learned to read (I can be rude too) you would see that I clearly point out in my comment some of the circumstances in which cars are unfortunately necessary. It is not always desirable to use scooters or bicycles and I can only assume you don’t have young children or have to work in a place not readily accessible by public transport (as many do). Moreover you seem to either have no friends or ones who only live in areas that are readily accessible by public transport- whilst I have friends who are lucky enough to live in such areas myself, I also possess friends who like to visit me but who have to use their CARS because of where they live. The only trouble is they can’t easily park anywhere in order to do so, as parking problems are already rife in the inner suburbs! Such problems are likely to be acerbated by the current desire of developers to reduce associated parking places in their high rise towers.

      And perhaps I should also tell you that not only did I bicycle to work for environmental reasons LONG before bicycling became the fashionable activity it is today, I also talked several other workmates into doing so as well. The distance involved was quite great (over an hour each way) and it was so long ago that I was often the only person on a bike path that now has hundreds of riders on it. I also organised ‘ride-to-work’ activities as well as work bike-parking places. This does not alter the fact that I recognise cars can be necessary. Furthermore I admit that I cannot bike like I used to as age has caught up with me – does this mean I should never leave my house? I still bike upon many occasions but also need to use my car or public transport. I suggest you learn to use your imagination and look beyond your own experience so that you can recognise different people have different needs. Unfortunately this means that, over time, many people often need a car.

      Finally I reiterate my original opinion – the reduction of car parking places is more to do with profits than anything else and developments are unfortunately not linked to overall town planning in any meaningful long-term way so that residents of a suburb can enjoy their community.

  3. Having lived in the inner suburbs for over 30 years, I know what an issue parking is, and I agree with public transport (using it whenever I can). However having developments without parking facilities is more about maximising profits than good living in the community through time. Unless you never want to go further afield than the city, or your friends never visit, it is simply not feasible to have no access to a car parking space, especially when children arrive. Councils don’t care about residents and simply wish to increase their rate base but, living with multi- story developments going up like mushrooms all around, I consider that MORE car parks should be made compulsory, and that developments should not be considered merely on a one-by-one basis but should also be examined for the overall impact on a community of exponentially increasing its population density. I totally agree urban sprawl should be stopped (although it is increasing more than ever) but population growth should be catered for over ALL of greater Melbourne and Sydney, rather than the inner suburbs taking so much of the pressure of ever-increasing population growth. Property developers get their own way too much – they don’t live in the conditions they create (and NSW and ICAC has shown HOW they often get what they want, even when it is not in the best interests of the community).