New parking scheme for Holyland area in Belfast is 'unfair and impractical'
Frustrated residents and business owners in south Belfast's student area have blasted a new parking scheme as "grossly unfair" and "impractical".
Northern Ireland's first residents' parking scheme was launched in the Holyland yesterday in a bid to tackle congestion.
A total of 236 parking bays have been marked out in the area, with 117 spaces for permit holding residents only, and a further 119 'pay and display' bays available to the public.
Some permit holders, however, have criticised the system as only one is allowed for each household and business. Households with more than one car are forced to pay for parking away from their property and can only park in designated areas for a maximum of two hours.
Yesterday, officials from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) issued warning letters to motorists parked illegally in the Rugby Road and College Park Avenue area.
Mick McDowell, who has lived in the Holyland for three years, shares his home with four others. They each have a car but only one can park outside their home.
He said: "We're musicians so when we come back from a gig we have to park outside the house, get all the equipment inside and then try and find a place that we are allowed to park at 1.30am.
"There's nothing we can do about it. I'm only allowed to park in one space for two hours, then will have to look for somewhere else to park.
"Half my day will be spent moving the car around and paying for parking outside my home.
"The whole thing is very frustrating. That's one of the main reasons we are moving, because it's not practical."
Residents living in the parking scheme zone had to apply for a valid permit from the department. They also get 25 visitor passes every three months.
Drivers who park in the bays without a valid permit or pay and display ticket will receive a penalty charge notice.
Business owner Patrick McKillop employs 36 people but has only one parking space for staff. The Spar owner said they are being "starved" of parking bays.
"It means we've had to reshuffle everyone and push them all down the street, with staff running around looking for parking spots," he said.
"It seems grossly unfair. Some businesses weren't given any permits.
"These rigid rules seems to be very much against businesses.
"Staff will have to pay for their parking or else they will be forced to park quite a distance away. The system that gives us one space is unfair.
"It's not practical during the winter months to expect staff to park far away from the business. We are being starved of parking."
Resident Sean McCann, who has been living in the area for more than 20 years, welcomed the new scheme, describing it as a "great idea".
"It takes this place back to the residential area it once was," he said.
"It's no longer a place where people think they can park anywhere they want. It's great for us residents and will make the area more appealing."
Declan Boyle, an independent councillor and landlord who owns student property in the area, said there are "teething issues" surrounding the scheme.
He called for more flexibility where a household has more than one car. He said: "For students living in a house with more than one car, it is an issue.
"If there are excess spaces it might be an opportunity for students and business owners to apply for more than one bay.
"No matter how many permits you have - if there's only 100 spaces in the street you can't fit everyone in.
"It could possibly push the parking into somewhere else."