Car parking is being flagged as a major issue on the horizon for the Hastings CBD, which needs a master plan to bring under control the city centre's history of ad hoc development.
Hastings district councillor Wayne Bradshaw is putting the heat on his fellow councillors for a plan for the CBD which would provide an overall approach to grow the city's retail centre.
It would focus on setting limits for its size and shape, working out how each part of the CBD would connect and interact, as well as rules to avoid one-off developments which Hastings had experienced in the past 30 years.
A master plan would guide development to make sure the CBD was connected and not divided.
"One of the important issues in any CBD plan is the council-funded public car parking. In all of the retail centres developed in Hastings, in competition to the CBD, large areas of free parking have been provided by the developers."
A petition in March from retailers flagged they were worried about the demand for parking after the new Farmers store was opened.
They asked for a master plan and a full parking study be completed before any more changes or additions to the CBD.
Mr Bradshaw said the council had $1 million to buy new carparks and should be acting now before economic times improved and it became expensive to buy.
Hastings Deputy Mayor Cynthia Bowers said the parking review and a plan for the CBD were both under way and should be made public later this year.
"So I am glad Councillor Bradshaw is on the same page with us," Ms Bowers said.
Staff working on a CBD plan had presented their work to councillors and there would be one more update before it was open for public comment.
The council had been considering potential sites for carparks for the past 12 months. "That is something councils are always low-key about, because as soon as anyone hears you are looking for land, they up the price and ratepayers don't get the best deal."
Ms Bowers said it would be difficult to charge for the new carparks to make a return on capital invested in the work.
"There is still a general reluctance from people here to pay for parking, compared to someone in Auckland or Wellington, and it is for that reason we are not getting the private sector coming in to build a parking building like in Hamilton."
Ms Bowers said the council did not want to scare people away from the CBD by charging for parking. "But it might be that all-day parkers will need to pay at some point, whereas at the moment people are parking around the outskirts of the CBD and walking into town," she said.
Add-on developments to Hastings city in the past three decades:
The CBD ring road system, since disbanded
Mall development, Heretaunga St 100 East and West blocks
Development of K-Mart, St Aubyn St/Russell St
Harvey Norman super store, St Aubyn St/Warren St
Mega Mitre 10 store, St Aubyn St
Nelson Park's transformation into a mega shopping centre.