The boarding houses saga engulfing Kingswood continues to rage on, with a 64-room development recently lodged with Penrith Council.
Submitted earlier this month, the $8.1 million proposal seeks to demolish two homes at 27-28 Park Avenue to make way for two, two to three-storey buildings.
If successful, the property would feature 64 boarding rooms, an east and west wing separated by a common courtyard, two levels of basement parking and a manager’s residence.
But like similar proposals before it, the DA has triggered community backlash and frustration amid fears clustering of boarding houses in Kingswood is turning the once family-friendly suburb into a “ghetto”.
“There are too many of these places already and there is never anything good that comes out of these boarding houses,” Enrique Martinez wrote on a planning portal alerts register.
To make matters worse, residents claim the State Government and Penrith Council are passing the buck. While planning controls for boarding houses are set by the NSW Government and Council cannot refuse development consent if a proposal meets these specified standards, large boarding houses would not be permissible in Kingswood had Council not altered the zone.
In 2019, Penrith MP Stuart Ayres called on Council to reverse its decision to re-zone a section of Kingswood several years ago from R2 (medium density) to R3 (high density), which would restrict boarding houses to a maximum of 12 rooms.
However, Councillors pointed out this would not prevent clustering and that the NSW Government could easily amend its affordable rental housing laws, while re-zoning could take years.
But some relief may be on the horizon for Kingswood and other hot spots across the Sydney basin, with the State Government proposing a number of changes to its boarding house provisions in response to feedback about the way they were being used. These include introducing an affordability requirement for new boarding house developments, which is tipped to stymie opportunistic developers.
“Boarding houses contribute to the diversity of NSW’s rental housing stock and provide housing for a wide range of residents from students and key workers to those needing assistance,” a Department of Planning, Industry and Environment spokesperson said.
“Meanwhile, councils are responsible for strategic land use planning to deliver sufficient housing supply and diversity in their areas.”
Alena Higgins is the Weekender’s Senior News Reporter, primarily covering courts and Council issues.