A lack of parking in Tauranga's CBD after the demise of the planned transport hub is putting businesses off relocating to the area and prompting workers to stay home, business leaders say.
And the situation may soon become even tougher for workers already struggling to find parks.
It has been just over a year since Tauranga City Council abandoned the construction of its $29 million, 535-parking space Harington St Transport Hub due to seismic issues.
The council has sold the site and it is expected to be used for parking eventually but it's not known when.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the CBD's lack of parking was exacerbated by the collapse of the transport hub plan and central city workers using what parking was leftover.
Buses were not always an option for workers juggling stops for children and grocery shopping, he said.
"Because there is no parking, workers are asking to work from home more often. This is reducing the visitors into the CBD, retailers and eateries."
The chamber made a submission to the council outlining the lack of long-term parking options as "a key constraint on the CBD".
Workers were preferring to risk a $12 fine for being caught overstaying rather than pay full price for parking, he said.
Cowley said he had heard of public and private organisations considering moving into the CBD but were put off by the lack of parking.
While the council had an exciting pipeline of developments, the city needed a short- and long-term parking plan, he said.
This was particularly so for the construction trade "who cannot afford to be chewing up precious labour hours when their staff spend hours looking for car parks each day".
Ray White Commercial managing director Phil Hunt said in the last month he had received a higher number of inquiries from businesses for retail and office buildings in the CBD but they were reluctant to relocate without parking.
''That excites me. However, I have been dealing with a tenant who wants to relocate his office to the CBD but he needs three leased car parks and we can't find them.
"My greatest frustration is the council is still not driving the required business car parking to allow businesses to move."
Hunt said people loved being in the CBD for the cafe culture and ease of access to other facilities, including the council and library, "but we are not getting ahead with that".
"They are still fiddling around not providing the parking that is needed."
A CBD retailer, who declined to be identified, said she had customers coming in every day complaining about the parking situation.
"It's definitely had an impact. The two hours' free parking, we don't agree with. And it's workers doing the parking, right outside our shop or nearby and they move them [cars] around [every two hours]."
Customers were forced to park "miles away".
The retailer said she would prefer free parking for 30 minutes "to encourage people to come to town and get a bit of free parking" while also freeing parks up for other shoppers.
She said the carpark buildings were affordable but Tauranga people seemed to expect on-street parking instead.
Tauranga City Council is due to adopt its Long-term Plan 2021-2031 on Monday. This was expected to include $185 million towards revitalising the city centre.
Of this, $1.8m will go towards parking management, including expansion of paid parking zones.
Director of transport Brendan Bisley said any need for further investment would be identified after the development of a parking strategy and broader city-centre planning.
The strategy would set guiding principles to better manage parking for the city's growth, improve access and provide "a more balanced transport network for all modes", he said.
It could include a "graduated management approach". This could mean increased charges and reduced time limits in the city's most popular parking locations to free up more on-street car parks in retail areas.
Some council parking buildings will undergo seismic work over the next six months. Bisley said there would be some "temporary reductions in floors of the carpark buildings" but no spaces would be removed.
He was not aware of any specific concerns from the business community "as in the past, we have been able to accommodate requests for leased car parks when needed".
The council usually leased car parks in off-street facilities but it was not creating new leases while the seismic work on the carpark buildings was being carried out.
"We need to retain the offroad facilities to reduce the impact of some reductions in the carpark buildings."
The strategy did not yet have detail around what it meant in individual areas such as the CBD but its objectives would likely go out for community consultation if approved by the council in August.