22 C
Byron Shire
March 7, 2021

Boarding house plan deferred

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A local developer has urged Lismore City Council (LCC) to start allowing private developers to join in the provision of social housing.

But one resident has questioned the wisdom of a mixed-use site that places the elderly near boarding-house occupants, who she said often tend to have drug and mental health problems.

Caught in the middle is Lismore Council, which this week deferred the approval of a two-storey dwelling in Esmonde Street, Girards Hill, with a recommendation to remove the upper level of the development.

The developer Doug Foskey has been knocked back twice for this proposal, which sees a lower level for senior living and the upper as a boarding house for single mature women.

Mr Foskey addressed council stating that ‘the development is reasonably priced, well designed and meets a community need’.

Mr Foskey continued by saying, ‘single mature women are in the biggest need group for affordable housing’. He pointed out that ‘currently there are no modern boarding houses in Lismore’.

Councillor Vanessa Ekins supports the DA and believes there is an urgent need for this type of housing.

Cr Smith joined in the support. He sees Wyrallah Road as an area for medium-density housing.

‘We need to increase the housing density near main roads as they are close to facilities and public transport.’

Like many councils, LCC is struggling to balance its need for affordable housing and the NIMBY (‘not in my back yard’) argument.

Cr Smith outlined the struggle that council will face by keeping the best interests of the community in mind.

‘Council is well aware of the increasing demand on affordable housing and this cannot be met by land encroachment. It can be aided by infill development.’

Speaking in opposition to the DA was Christine Harvey. She told council, ‘the DA in its current form is an overdevelopment of the site, which is why the DA has been rejected previously’.

The issue of mixed use raises its own questions. Ms Harvey believes that boarding houses are associated with drugs and alcohol problems and mental illness.

‘Placing a boarding house above seniors who are vulnerable is not reasonable.’

Cr Meineke questioned the ‘ability to enforce the single status of boarding residents and visitor numbers and their length of stay at the site’.

Additional recommendations for the amended DA were to include a pitched roof with hipped ends in compatibility with the local area.

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  1. Dear Lismore Councillors
    I manage one of Lismore’s ‘modern boarding houses’ (yes there ARE still some) and I am appalled that some Councillors can’t see that people struggling with past demons of mental illness and/or problem alcohol and substance use are vulnerable people who need support and care, not further vilification based on ignorance and NIMBYism.
    My residents are more at risk of the general community than the community is of them. Residents come to us seeking refuge, often from family and/or community violence. They respond well to the care and support they receive in our house. What better housemates for these women than older people who have time to listen and their own need for social interaction and community?
    Geof Webb
    E-Street boarding house

  2. Hi
    I believe that I was misquoted in your article “Boarding house plan deferred”. You quoted me as saying “Ms Harvey believes that boarding houses are associated with drugs and alcohol problems and mental illness”. However, what I actually said was “Councils’ Social Planner echoes the findings of the Ombudsman’s report on boarding houses – “a significant proportion of residents in boarding houses have mental illness, cognitive impairment, or drug and alcohol problems..and.. this may put residents and neighbours at risk”. I was in fact pointing out to Councillors the views of the Council’s own Social Planner and that of the NSW Ombudsman and using a direct quote from Council’s own report. The context that this comment was made in was the “mix” of use in one building. Further, the vulnerable people I was referring to were the boarding house residents. This proposal does not intend to provide any on-site manager and boarding house tenants are not afforded the same rights as other tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. I refer you to the NSW Ombudsman report 2011 “More than Board and Lodging”.

    You seemed to have missed a very important fact in reporting this story. The block of land already has a house on it (rental) and this development is proposed to be built in the back yard. The developer has applied under 2 different State planning policies (which both attract significant financial incentives) for the one building. The opposition to the proposal by some 80 local residents has nothing to do with the fact that it proposes a boarding house. The opposition is because of the overdevelopment of the one block of land and the lack of amenity it would create for residents on that property – as well as the impact on neighbouring properties due to overdevelopment. Our local community is close-knit and very inclusive. We already have a large number of residents who have a variety of disabilities, including mental health issues. We do not discriminate nor exclude them from our community. None of the residents who are in opposition to the development have ever expressed a “NIMBY” attitude. In fact, we approached Council and advised that we want development to occur on this site – just not over development.

    I note the comment by Mr Geof Webb and if he runs a boarding house which provides amenity and safety for his residents then I applaud his efforts.

    Christine Harvey


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