“Fight the towers! Or kiss your car park goodbye”: How often do residents assert car parking rights in Melbourne planning appeals?

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At around 20 square metres per space and occupying over 30% of the ground area of many cities, car parking is an expected but unnoticed land use - pulling the proverbial devil's trick of “convincing the world it doesn't exist”. Recent poster slogans in Melbourne calling to “fight the towers! Or kiss your car park goodbye” imply that frustration over a lack or perceived future lack of parking space carries weight in planning conflicts over intensifying Australian cities. The research in this paper was motivated by a suspicion that fears expressed by existing residents about parking are a frequent and prominent but rarely examined planning issue in Victoria. The paper interprets residents' claims made about inadequate parking as conflicts over asserted rights, and their allocation and reallocation through planning. It is based on a content analysis of four months (325 cases) of published Victorian planning appeals from 2012. It is found that over half the appeals featured car parking as a significant issue, and that of these, nine out of ten involved third party objectors. The planning system is called upon to respond to issues arising from car rather than land use, and to do so by making further allowances for cars. This asserted “folk legality” of individual car parking rights is difficult to reconcile with growing literature offering critical perspectives on aggregate costs from “predict and provide” car parking policies. Differences between public and planning interpretations of the role of planning in balancing car parking rights and common good are observed. Ultimately, conflict over asserted parking rights in planning draw out fundamental tensions around who – or what – has the right to occupy space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-348
Number of pages21
JournalPlanning Theory and Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • car parking
  • locational conflict
  • rights
  • urban containment
  • Australia

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