NSW boarding house changes: bad idea?

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The New South Wales (NSW) Department of Planning has recently issued a draft proposal to alter the Affordable Rental Housing State Environmental Planning Policy 2009 concerning the number of rooms allowed in boarding houses in low-density residential zones.

The proposal included rules capping the size of new boarding houses to only 12 rooms in low-density areas.

Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts said that changes had been drafted to address community issues on local impacts of select boarding-house developments.

"Establishing a maximum number of boarding rooms per site in low-density zones will help to better manage any amenity impacts of boarding-house developments on adjoining and nearby properties," he said.

However, the Urban Taskforce said that the planned changes were pandering to elitists.

Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson said that if the changes are implemented, boarding houses in many areas of Sydney will be unfeasible where affordable housing is much needed.

“This proposal follows changes introduced in June 2018 to require 0.5 car spaces per room up from 0.2 spaces. These additional onerous requirements greatly affect the feasibility of boarding-house development, resulting in a diminished supply of this type of affordable accommodation," he said.

Currently, there is an evident shift from home ownership to rental housing in NSW's capital, and the Urban Taskforce is concerned about the erosion of support for boarding houses from the government.

"The concerns of communities about this housing type can be handled through quality design so that boarding houses compliment the local character of an area. We suspect, however, that the community concerns are more about objecting to the people who live in affordable rental housing than concerns about the buildings," Johnson said.

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