The state government announcement today to cap the number of units in boarding house developments is good news for local residents and will break the incentive for profit driven developers to exploit affordable housing rules.
Mayor Michael Regan cautiously welcomed the announcement having made numerous representations to the Minister and the State planning department to address the issue.
He urged the Minister to seriously consider implementing the controls on all current and future development under the SEPP to enable bad outcomes currently in the system to be avoided.
“We have always clearly stated we are not against boarding houses - we are against bad planning,” Mr Regan said.
“And the state government rules on boarding houses override Council’s planning restrictions. They allow giant development in suburban areas where Council would never approve them.
“If the cap was introduced it will encourage investment in affordable housing for those who really need it, not just line developer pockets. It will be more likely to attract affordable housing providers who have a passion for their clients, not just profit driven enterprises.
“We will need to see the full detail before we can give it our full endorsement but on face value, it sounds like a good measure. It’s critical the changes are applied to current, not just future proposals so we can knock out of the system those proposals we are currently fighting that will ruin local streets.
“We all want to increase our stock of affordable houses – on the Northern Beaches it’s an urgent priority – but it simply can’t be at the expense of sensible planning.
“Our preference is for the state government to step back and allow Council to plan our own solutions for affordable housing. We have the knowledge on the ground to undertake considered planning decisions and better facilitate affordable housing in our area – just like we are currently doing with the new housing precinct at Frenchs Forest.”
Mr Regan said Council had been inundated with proposed boarding house development looking for assessment under the state government rules for boarding houses.
“In 2016/17 we had two development applications for boarding houses. In 2017/18 we had thirteen. Some literally want to put in 100 room developments where a single block currently stands in suburban areas, away from good transport or infrastructure.
“It is hardly surprising that so many in our community are up in arms about it.
“I am pleased the Minister is taking our, and others, calls seriously on this issue.
“Council will be providing a detailed submission to the Minister to ensure we get the right outcomes for our residents.”