Private car parking operators in the central city are concerned cheaper charges in the new Lichfield St Car Park will take away their business.

It will cost $2.80 an hour to use the new city council Lichfield St Car Park, which opens tomorrow, more than $1 cheaper than other, privately-owned buildings.

Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale said there was some concern among private operators the new car park would take their business because it was significantly cheaper.

"If the council's wanting developers to develop car parks, they can't come along and undercut the prices."

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The car park's opening also marks the beginning of the trial of an hour's free parking in all city council-owned off-street car parks in the central city.

It will cost motorists $2.80 an hour to park in the Lichfield St Car Park from 6am-6pm every day. All day parking would be $10, while the night-time hourly rate would be $2.50.

In comparison, it costs $2 to park in The Crossing, West End and Hereford St car parks for up to half an hour, $4 from 31min to an hour, with an extra $2 every half hour thereafter.

City councillor Jamie Gough said the Lichfield St Car Park and the free parking trial would bring more people into the central city and, in turn, benefit private operators.

He said people also liked convenience and, if they wanted to park closely to a particular place, they would pay more to do so.

The city council was not looking to undercut private operators, but it had to do what was best for the public, he said.

"We have the public's interest at heart."

Cr Gough said the private car parking buildings leased spaces to corporate vehicles and fleets, so short-term parking was not their only revenue.

The Lichfield St Car Park has 805 parking spaces, including 24 disability parking spaces and 10 charging parks for electric vehicles, plus a bike stand on the ground floor.

The Lichfield St Car Park will replace the one demolished after the February 22, 2011, earthquake.