As we move into the festive season, the Cessnock CBD is expected to be busier than ever.
Cessnock City Council wants local shoppers, residents and visitors to know there are hundreds of free, untimed parking spaces available in the shopping district.
In addition to the privately-owned shopping centre car parks, Cessnock City Council provides 10 public car parks in the Cessnock CBD - offering a total of 632 spaces within walking distance of local shops.
Some of the locations include Vincent Street Kitchen and Bar (formerly Cessnock Ex-Services Club), Cessnock Performing Arts Centre, several locations on Cumberland Street (including the rear of Cessnock Regional Art Gallery, pictured), the Charlton Street carpark near the Reject Shop, and 209 and 232A Wollombi Road.
In an effort to highlight these parking areas to the community, council recently engaged constructively with the Cessnock Chamber of Commerce and a decision was made to install supplementary signage advising of these locations.
In addition, online mapping services, such as Google Maps, have been updated to reflect the availability of these car parks.
Council's principal engineer - traffic and transport, Warren Jeffery said there seems to be a misconception in the community that there aren't enough parking spaces in the Cessnock CBD.
"We really wanted to promote these public car parks to the community as there is actually ample parking in the Cessnock CBD, it's just about knowing where these parking spaces are," Mr Jeffery said.
"We hope the additional signage and promotion of these car parks is helpful for both residents and visitors to the area."
Cessnock Chamber of Commerce president Clint Ekert said it was important for drivers to be aware of their options when it comes to car parking in the shopping district.
"The chamber did some research that shows if you park in the Cumberland Street carpark, behind Grices Bakery, and you walked to either Edward Street, or Hall Street, that it is similar to the distance if you parked at Greenhills and walked to a shop at the other end of the centre," he said.
"There are also several parks at the edge of the TAFE grounds."
The awareness campaign follows a motion at council's August 21 meeting, when councillor Ian Olsen unsuccessfully called for council to investigate the design and location of a multi-level parking station in Charlton Street.
Council's Public Domain Plan, which was adopted in 2017, includes cost estimates for multi-level carparks in Charlton Street ($16.56 million) and Keene Street ($6.65 million).
The amended motion at that meeting resolved to note these cost estimates, while working with the chamber to promoting the number of free and untimed parking spaces in the CBD, and for the general manager to undertake an audit of street parking to identify multiple use of zones.