We have achieved a significant victory over property developers, with recent changes to planning laws introduced, designed to prevent overdevelopment in residential streets, and “break the business model” of exploitative boarding houses.
After a two and a half year campaign by me, the Affordable Rental Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (ARHSEPP) was quietly amended in June to include a requirement for each new boarding house to provide half an off-street car space for each bedroom. Previously, a parking space only needed to be provided for every five bedrooms.
Developers are using the AHRSEPP as a backdoor method of increasing densities in low density (R2 Low Density Residential Zones) areas to avoid Council’s planning rules. I believe this change will drastically undermine their business model.
Since 2009, Randwick City Council has approved more than 500 boarding houses under the ARHSEPP in close proximity to the University of New South Wales, supposedly to meet the demand for affordable student accommodation. The State’s planning laws made it practically impossible for councils to refuse applications of this nature, even if Council believed that the developments were inappropriate.
A survey conducted by Randwick City Council in 2015 revealed that the rents charged were anything but affordable, with a single bedroom as small as 12m2 in a boarding house costing between $390-$450 a week. By comparison, the median cost of a one bedroom private dwelling in the LGA was $480 per week. Those costs are no doubt considerably higher in 2018, and are wildly out of reach of the ordinary university student’s budget.
This is welcome news for residents in the Kensington and Kingsford area who have put up with developers running riot in their streets for far too long.
This chance will give the power back to local Councils to decide whether they want boarding houses in their area, or not.
It’s no small feat to convince a Liberal Government to take a step back from their overdevelopment agenda, so I’m grateful to the Minister for listening to my suggestions.