Ramsgate residents fight major boarding house

Residents have described a proposal for a 74-room boarding house in the Ramsgate town centre as too big, unsuitable for the area and as failing the State Government’s own planning guidelines.

Bayside Planning Panel has already approved a five-storey shop top housing development with eighteen units for the 799sqm site at  238 - 242 Rocky Point Road, Ramsgate.

This was approved in February but in June, the applicant withdrew the DA and switched the application to a 74-room boarding house.

The new proposal by CMT Architects has been designed to be in the same building envelope as the approved development.

But instead of 18 luxury apartments, it will include 73 double rooms, a caretaker’s room, two retail premises on the ground floor, 22 car spaces and a communal rooftop area.

The proposal exceeds the 16-metre height and falls short of the required number of car spaces.

Under planning controls, a boarding house DA has to provide 0.5 car spaces per room unless the property is being run by a Social Housing Provider.

This DA asks for 0.2 car spaces per room.

“Given the site is located in the Ramsgate Town Centre and accessible to public transport, it is considered more appropriate to apply the lesser car parking rate,” according to the accompanying Statement of Environmental Effects.

But the residents say that because it is a private developer and not a social housing provider, the developer is not entitled to an exemption from parking standards.

Residents’ spokesman, Cliff Bernard accused the developer of a “bait and switch” strategy.

“Local residents who are negatively impacted by the new boarding house proposal can no longer object to the building form because the council has already given approval,” Mr Bernard said.

“A 74 double room, 148 bed boarding house is big even by Sydney CBD standards. Most seen to be with the 20 to 50 room range.

“In my limited research, this proposal is by far the largest such development in the Sydney metropolitan area.

“This building will have 74 double occupancy rooms, plus a manager; 149 new residents in a suburb with a total population of 1400, who are mostly owner and mortgagees, working people with families,” he said.

As well as size and lack of parking, residents are objecting on the grounds loss of amenity, impact on privacy, noise issues and that the boarding house will be contrary to the character of the area.

In the Statement of Environmental Effects, the developer states that the proposed development “exhibits a high quality design suited to its location” within the Ramsgate Town Centre.

“The proposal does not generate any significant adverse environmental impacts on adjoining properties in regard to solar access and traffic generation” and “is of similar scale and bulk as the currently approved development for the site”.

But Mr Bernard said the boarding house DA should be rejected out of hand.

“Send the developer back to his original plan, which was at least in keeping with the character of the area,” he said.

Mr Bernard has written to Planning Minister Anthony Roberts pointing out that the development fails the State Government’s own guidelines for boarding house developments which are required to be located close to public transport, employment, education and medical services.

“Kogarah already had a couple of other smaller such developments approved,” he said.

“These developments it appears are spreading throughout the suburbs, and many of them are far outside the original intention of the legislation that made them possible.

Kogarah might just qualify in principle for such developments, being close to the rail, and to major hospital and mental health services and employment opportunities.

“But the Ramsgate DA fits none of the guidelines, and is double the size of any so far proposed in this area.

“Ramsgate has a population of 1400, no employment opportunities, inadequate transport, no educational or health facilities or any other services that boarding house residents might need. It's a travesty.”

The residents have gathered a petition with up to 70 signature which will be presented to the council.