New Belfast parking scheme to drive workers out of university streets
A new parking scheme which will stop commuters leaving their cars in residential areas all day is to begin in south Belfast at the end of the month.
The scheme, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the city, comes into operation on October 30 in the university area.
It will have a mixture of parking spaces for residents, as well as pay and display zones.
Home-owners in the district are regularly unable to park due to office workers in the city centre leaving their cars there from early morning until late in the evening.
The College Park Avenue/Rugby Road scheme will provide 117 parking spaces for residents and a further 127 pay and display spaces.
No-one from the Department for Infrastructure, which is introducing the scheme, was available for comment on its details yesterday.
However, the Belfast Telegraph understands that only residents with a valid permit will be entitled to park for free in the streets concerned between 8am and 6pm on weekdays.
Pay and display spaces can be bought from ticket machines to allow visitors to park for up to two hours.
South Belfast independent councillor Declan Boyle said: "I fully support the introduction of this scheme in the university area.
"It is unfair that people working in the city centre use these streets as a car park and that residents are forced to drive around looking for a space to park close to their own homes for up to half an hour."
Mr Boyle said that the pay and display spaces would allow students who were attending lectures to pay to park their cars in the area, and then return within the two-hour time limit.
DUP councillor Graham Craig also welcomed the scheme, but said be would be evaluating its impact on other local areas.
"I support the scheme because residents have lobbied for it," he said.
"But it will be interesting to see if it solves the problem of commuter parking or moves it somewhere else."
Announcing the scheme last year, the then Sinn Fein Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said: "Residents of south Belfast have long voiced their concerns about parking in their local area.
"The issue of all-day commuter parking is one faced by other communities.
"I am continuing to look at this issue to see what other schemes can be brought forward to address what is a very real concern for many people living in our towns and cities."
The Department for Infrastructure gave the green light to a similar scheme in Londonderry's Rossville Street area.
It didn't pursue one in Belfast's Lower Malone area due to objections in particular from local businesses.
Protests about commuter parking have been previously held by residents in the Market area of the city.