An "iconic" riverside market in Lower Hutt won't be shut down after complaints from nearby businesses, but attendees will have to start paying for parking.
The fate of the Riverbank Market was discussed in a committee meeting last night, where members had the option of voting to close the market down, or to put in place other measures to deal with the traffic congestion and parking issues it caused.
The market, which draws in an estimated 10,000 people every Saturday, is also costing the Hutt City Council more than $4000 a week in traffic management costs.
A complaint from Harvey Norman last year called for a review of the existing resource consent for the market, and asked the council to crack down on compliance issues.
In a letter from Haines Planning, the planning advisers for Harvey Norman, director David Haines said market customers were spilling over into the Harvey Norman Centre's exclusive-use carpark, and had been seen using customer toilets in the centre.
Haines said their concerns were shared by a number of other businesses in the Harvey Norman Centre, and that the nearby Countdown supermarket was also experiencing adverse effects from the market.
Members of the City Development Committee last night agreed to put in place a user-pays method for parking, in which those attending the market on a Saturday must pay $2 for an hour of parking. This would cover the cost of traffic management and additional parking wardens.
Chairman David Bassett said the decision still has to go to council for sign-off.
"This council is committed to having a market," he said.
"We see it as quite an iconic market and on that isn't only used for purchasing veges and fruit and that sort of thing, but it becomes a community sort of hub during the weekend.
"We see it as important that we continue to have a market."
The committee is also recommending an officer be appointed to look for a new site for the market, as the size of the area it is held in will be reduced when stopbank protection works are carried out along the Hutt River.
"That corresponds with my earlier comment that the council is committed to having a market within the city, that's why we've asked officers to locate a potential site."
Bassett could not say when the stopbank work would be carried out, but hoped council would have a plan in place by the end of the year.
The Riverbank Market has been running since 2005.
A survey showed 72 per cent of respondents go to the market every week and 13 per cent attend fortnightly.
Of those attending, 93 per cent shop, and nearly 30 per cent come to the market for the food trucks.
A council assessment found the market was operating in breach of several conditions of its consent. One is the hours of operation, which are supposed to be 8am-4pm but are currently about 4am-4pm.
The market is also supposed to manage traffic by employing two people at its own expense during the hours of operation, and the conditions of the existing resource consent have not been reviewed every two years as they were meant to be.
The market's licence to occupy is due to expire in August next year.