Pop up park at famous Aussie beach likened to ‘military roadside check point’

The controversial trial frustrated many locals who labelled the space an 'embarrassment'.

The council of a popular holiday destination has been ripped to shreds by residents after it repurposed a car park and turned it into a "pedestrian precinct".

Noosa Council in Queensland created a "pop-up park" in what is usually an in-demand parking lot adjacent to Noosa Heads surf club, calling it 'The Main Beach People's Park', but many have slammed the move labelling it an "embarrassment".

"This may look like a military roadside checkpoint but it's not," one Aussie said in his review online. "I went in and took a seat between the boiling hot asphalt and the scorching hot sun."

The trial converted 42 car spaces in a bid to improve traffic in the area. Disability parking spaces remained along with a drop-off and pick-up area. The trial, which ran from December 23 to January 7, where the asphalt-covered surface turned into a "park" with marquees, a busking area and tables and chairs. It is now in its feedback phase.

"This trial is among a number of options to help alleviate traffic issues and look to create a better flow of traffic while minimising the queuing of vehicles waiting for carparks," Noosa Council CEO Larry Sengstock told Yahoo News Australia.

Screenshots of the 'people's park' in Noosa with a marquee and tables and chairs.
The 42-space car park was transformed into a 'people's park' over the holidays. Source: TikTok

Backlash over trial from frustrated community

Across multiple community pages and social media platforms, the move has been questioned by visitors and locals.

"Noosa Council should accept that they totally stuffed up with this badly planned and inappropriately set out 'pedestrian precinct'. It is an ugly, hot and useless knee-jerk reaction. What an embarrassment!" lamented one local, with hundreds replying in agreement.

"Seriously which part of 'let’s put up a tent in a stinking hot car park in the middle of summer' was ever going to work!" another argued.

There were some who defended the idea though, offering suggestions on how it could be improved. "Think the council had the right idea (sic). I would like to see it a permanent grassed space with trees and permanent picnic shelters and BBQ. It could be amazing," a positive patron said.

Acting Infrastructure Services Director Shaun Walsh told Yahoo News repurposing car parking spaces for people was "always going to be contentious". "This trial was about alleviating the constant risk of mixing cars and pedestrians outside toilet and shower areas and creating a friendly environment near Main Beach," he said.

He claims families, local workers and lifeguards in the area have shared positive feedback about the change, citing easy access to the drop-off area and a "significant improvement" in access to the beach for SLSC and Emergency Services and their vehicles.

Left image shows the 'carpark closed' sign in the area. Right image shows a map of the Main Beach People's Park from the council.
Disability parks remained available alongside a drop-off/pick-up area. Source: TikTok/Noosa Council

Council claims they saw improvements in traffic congestion

Sengstock said the move to Main Beach People’s Park had provided improvements in traffic flow and helped ease congestion in the area. "We have seen an improvement in the flow of traffic on Hastings St, Noosa Woods and Little Cove, and we really haven't seen the level of gridlock we normally see at this time of the year."

He continued that "while not everyone agrees with the concept", echoing Walsh's sentiment, the council believe it’s important to keep testing ways to tackle the ongoing traffic congestion issues during peak periods.

"This was only a trial so suggestions it will become permanent is premature. We will conduct a thorough review of how it worked, gauge feedback from those who used it and provide a report to council."

Walsh added that although storms have impacted the usage on most afternoons, there had been "strong visitation" later in the days, "providing a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere".

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