On-street parking will be free on weekends in the Tauranga CBD, Tauranga City Council has decided.

Parking is already free on Sundays and today councillors voted unanimously to extend that to Saturdays on a one year trial beginning December 15.

Currently, Saturday parking is charged for between 9am and 1pm.

Downtown Tauranga chairman Brian Berry welcomed the move, which the mainstreet organisation had advocated for.

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He said it was a step towards "levelling the playing field" between mainstreet retail and hospitality business owners and privately-owned shopping centres.

He said retailers hoping for a pre-Christmas trading boost would welcome the news.

Councillor Bill Grainger said the decision was based on data that showed long occupancy times - a key argument against free parking - was not such a big problem on the weekends.

"Let's give it a go and see what happens."

CBD parking has been a hot topic for the council in the past 12 months as it responded to complaints from retailers about flagging foot counts amid the disruptions created by major construction projects in the area.

In February the council introduced a maximum time limit of three hours, supported by Downtown Tauranga.

A council parking study in October found the CBD's usual 337 paid parking spaces had dropped to 283 due to construction work on Durham, Spring and Elizabeth Sts.