Three-hour parking is to be introduced into the core of Tauranga's CBD to improve the turnover of cars and ease concerns of retailers.

Grey St and the main shopping blocks of Devonport Rd, Durham St, Spring St and Willow St have been selected for three-hour parking - leaving the status quo of unrestricted parking across the rest of the downtown for people prepared to pay.

Yesterday's meeting of the city council agreed to the change which takes effect on March 18.

The vote went against a council Facebook and Survey Monkey poll in which 858 (61 per cent) of the 1408 people who voted opposed the reintroduction of time limits on street front carparking in the CBD.

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Councillors also failed to heed advice from staff who did not recommend the three-hour limit. Staff argued the benefits of staying with having no limits outweighed having time limits.

It included that customers were able to determine their own time limit and previous retailer concerns that time limits did not allow enough time for their customers.

Mayor Greg Brownless said a lot of the comments received with the Facebook votes were about perceived council failings and not about time limits.

He said the CBD did not have enough carparks for people who could afford to hog them all day.

Councillor Larry Baldock said the majority of mainstreet retailers supported three hours and he felt restricting it to the core of the CBD was a bit minimalist.

The change did not impact on parking buildings and other off-street carparks which offered unlimited parking.

Council transport manager Martin Parkes said he expected carparks currently taken by council staff working out of the former Westpac building in Devonport Rd would be freed up once the shift took place into the new office building in Cameron Rd.

Parkes said the council was also incentivising staff to shift to walking, cycling and catching the bus to work.

He disclosed that the council was looking at options for the remaining unleased parks in the private carparking building under construction behind the ANZ Centre on the corner of Elizabeth St and Cameron Rd.

The three-hour parking was a compromise to changes sought by Councillor Terry Molloy who consulted with 90 per cent of CBD retailers.

He said a range of retailers were wrestling with not having a level playing field compared with shopping centres in the rest of the city.

''I listened to people that were virtually in tears.''

Molloy added that the odd one or two retailers felt having no restrictions was okay.

Baldock said if people could not do what they wanted to do in three hours, then they could go to the unrestricted carparks. ''It is not difficult.''

Transport committee chairman Rick Curach said it was a good compromise that meant some people would have to walk a little further.

Councillor Kelvin Clout was assured that signage would avoid confusion among people wondering which parking zones they were in.