Boarding house, Wamberal

Beachfront boarding house in Calais Road!

Plans for a ‘boarding house’ with 11 apartments on a small block at 16 Calais Road, Wamberal have been lodged with Council.

Only metres from the beach and near homes valued in excess of $7 million, the units are purportedly for very low income households.

However, once approved, there is nothing to prevent it being reconfigured into a residential flat building with expensive 2 or 3 bedroom apartments or serviced apartments or high cost, short term tourist accommodation.

Can easily become high cost, short term tourist accommodation in the future.

Can Council stop high cost holiday lettings?


On 4 July 2017, a senior Council legal officer advised that the Council would not have the resources to enforce the requirements for minimum 3 month tenancies for “boarding houses” and that it was the responsibility of neighbours to monitor the tenancies and report any issues to Council. Council would then determine if they ‘could’ take any action.

So, without any realistic hope of enforcement by Council, the development would fail to meet the needs of low and very low income residents.

Council do not monitor the requirements for “boarding houses”

The lack of adequate onsite parking

A “boarding house” would be required to provide at least 6 car spaces but only 2 are provided.

“A density of 20 plus residents on a small R2 residential block is not low density.”

It is just plain dangerous

Similar refusals

The Land and Environment Court refused a proposed mixed use boarding house development on the grounds of non-compatibility with the character of the local area and in adequacy of on-site parking.

Consistency with planning laws

It exceeds the building envelope and is contrary to the development control plans and character for “… a low-density residential area.” 

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The planning laws that everyone else must abide by in R2 Low Density Residential zones are for houses to:  

  • meet the needs of the community within a low density residential environment.
  • be compatible with the desired future character of the zone
  • encourage best practice in the design of low-density residential development
  •  land uses do not adversely affect residential amenity or place demands on services beyond the level reasonably required for low-density housing

A building containing 11 separate occupancies on a standard allotment cannot be considered as a low-density development.

The proposal is clearly not compatible with the existing or desired future character of the area, an example of best practice design of low density residential development or not placing demands on services beyond the level reasonably required for low-density housing (e.g. Council water and sewer services).

“… compatible with the character of the local area.”

The provisions of SEPP (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009, Clause 30A states:

“A consent authority must not consent to development to which this Division applies unless it has taken into consideration whether the design of the development is compatible with the character of the local area.”

The proposed development is not compatible with the character of the area.

The proposed development is clearly not compatible with the character of the local area, and does not meet the essential requirements of SEPP (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 Clause 30A.

The importance of compatibility with the ‘…character of the local area’ was upheld in the Land and Environment Court of NSW when considering a ‘boarding house’ in Ettalong Beach.

The appeal case, Elias & Anor v Gosford City Council, reinforced the importance of ‘boarding house developments complying with the existing ambiance of the surrounding area and neighbourhood.

“… a low-density residential area”

The subject property is located within Precinct 6 for the Wamberal Character Statement which is titled Open Woodland Hillsides.  The desired character for this precinct is stated in Gosford Development Control Plan 2013 2013 as remaining “a low-density residential area”

A “boarding house” does not meet the desired character for the area as demanded by the state planning policy and should be refused because it will:

  • Be unsafe due to traffic and access issues thorough out the year and particularly in the summer months.
  • Have a detrimental impact on the amenity of neighbouring property and the surrounding locality particularly affecting safe public access to the beach.
  • Prevent the area remaining as a low-density residential area.
  • Not be compatible with existing or desired character for low density development: 20 plus residents on a small R2 residential block is not low density.
  • Not display a traditional “street address” given the very large size, bulk and scale of the building
  • Not maintain the existing levels of privacy and amenity that are enjoyed by neighbouring dwellings
  • Not sympathetic with surrounding area
  • Significantly impacts on the primary ocean views of adjoining and adjacent properties and does not meet the NSW Land and Environment Court view sharing principles.
  • Will rely almost totally on parking at the Wamberal Surf Lifesaving Club which would have a significant adverse impact on the amenity beach goers, and create parking hazards that will likely be a danger to both vehicular traffic and pedestrians.

No acknowledgement of asbestos

The existing dwelling was constructed in the 1950’s using numerous forms of asbestos containing material (ACM) yet on page three, section seven of the Development Application Form (Part A) of the development application it states, “The estimated area of bonded or friable asbestos material that will be disturbed, repaired or removed in carrying out the development” is 0m2.

Plan of management

The “Plan of management” is unworkable. It is supposed to address the management of psychosocial behaviours, safety and building management yet the “Monitoring System” and “Operational Management” makes seven references to notifying and complying with conditions for an “Inner West Council” which obviously has no jurisdiction in this Local Government Area (LGA).

One garage or two garages?

Section seven of the Development Application Form (Part A) states that the development is to “Demolish existing building, construction of new boarding house with 10 units, 1 caretaker and 1 garage.”

Yet the notification plans clearly state that a double garage is to be built!

Parking – contradictions in the plan of management

The “Plan of management” states that “Parking is allocated to rooms based on availability and will form part of the individual tenancy agreement. There will be an additional cost that will be negotiated with the tenant. Parking numbers are then assigned to the relevant tenant/room and one can only park within the allocated spot.”

The application states there is only one garage, so how can parking be allocated to rooms?

The legislation specifies .5 car spaces per room plus 1 for the “caretaker” this means that the development would require 6 car spaces, plus 2 motor bike spaces and 2 bicycle spaces.

Parking will overflow onto Calais Road and the Wamberal Surf Club car park

As there is no adequate provision for resident or visitor car parking, and consequently people will be compelled to park in the very narrow laneway (Calais Road) or use the Wamberal Surf Lifesaving Club carpark which will significantly impact the amenity of these public facilities.

‘Boarding house’ policy – a giant loophole

The policies enabling these developments repeatedly fail to meet the needs of low income residents for high quality, low cost accommodation with landlords often charging the highest possible rents within the market.

Future landlords often charge the highest possible rents within the market making it improbable for low income households to afford accommodation.

State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009.

The defines affordable housing as housing for very low income households, low income households or moderate income households, being such households with a gross income that is less than 120 per cent of the median household income and pays no more than 30 per cent of that gross income in rent.

As the location is only metres from a beach with homes valued in excess of $7 million, it is unlikely low income residents would be able to afford market rents.

There is no regulation to prevent the units being marketed and leased as studio apartments in the future.

The application should be refused because it cannot be guaranteed that low income households will be able to afford market rents at this expensive, high demand holiday location in the future which is contradictory to the intent of State Government planning policies.

It is highly unlikely to meet the primary aim of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 to provide affordable housing for very low and low income households.

Homelessness advocate – boarding houses don’t work

Homelessness NSW chief executive, Katherine McKernan, said those who need low cost housing are being priced out.

“However, due to the current cost of private rental market housing, they are setting their prices to meet the market.”

Even at locations with moderate land values, the evidence is that boarding house developments do not provide adequate low cost housing for low income earners.

High cost land = low cost housing?

Calais Street has some of the highest property values on the Central Coast. Any future landlord would be able to charge any rent they like to gain a return on investment. This is why the boarding house policy is a failure.

Future landlords can charge any rent they like to gain a return on their expensive investment.

It is unlikely that this development would provide the affordable housing outcomes that policy makers intended, and many people need.

Social Impact Assessment

Given the high-density nature of the proposed development, a Social Impact Assessment would include a far greater level of community consultation and ensure that the concerns of residents are fully addressed within the design of the proposed development.

Court affirms Councils right to refuse boarding houses

In the Land and Environment Court Decision Elias & Anor v Gosford City Council [2016] NSWLEC 1054, Council’s refusal of a proposed boarding house development was upheld on the grounds of non-compatibility with the character of the local area and adequacy of on-site parking, which are significant and legitimate objections with respect to this development.

Have your say

Lodge your objections to the Central Coast Council  using their Online eForm (you can add attachments OR in n writing, addressed to the Chief Executive Officer, Gosford City Council, PO Box 21 Gosford, 2250.

Please ensure original signatures are not included on any submissions.

Residents have prepared a comprehensive objection letter with key issues outlined. Feel free to personalise the letter by making your own changes to it.

Calais Road boarding house objection letter

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