Sutherland Shire Council reviews fees boarding house developers pay to help fund public open space

A recently opened boarding house on Kingsway at Cronulla. Picture: John Veage
A recently opened boarding house on Kingsway at Cronulla. Picture: John Veage

Development fees for boarding houses in Sutherland Shire could be slashed because they are considered unreasonable.

At present, developers in the main centres are required to pay Sutherland Shire Council a contribution of $20,000 per boarding room to help provide new and upgraded public open space.

The council will consider reducing the payment to $11,111.

A report by council staff said boarding houses appeared to be gaining popularity as a more affordable form of accommodation for key workers and other residents on lower incomes.

“Several boarding houses have been approved over recent years and there are currently eight boarding house applications pending determination by council,” the report said.

”Five of these applications are in the growth precincts.”

Growth precincts are Cronulla, Caringbah, Sylvania Southgate, Miranda, Gymea, Sutherland/ Kirrawee, Jannali and Engadine.

A different development contribution rate applies to developments in non-growth precincts.

The report said the courts had ruled fees imposed by development consent authorities must be “reasonable”.

Boarding house developers paid the same rate as that applying to apartment blocks.

However the average occupancy rate for apartments, based on census data, was 1.8 persons, whereas boarding rooms were typically occupied by a single resident.

The report said recent boarding house applications had shown the development contribution was nearly 20 per cent of the project cost.

”It is considered that such a condition would be unlikely to pass the ‘reasonable’ test and could make this type of development economically unviable,” the report said.

The report said high density residential development in the growth precincts was forecast to result in population growth, which would increase the demand for public open space.

“Boarding house residents have similar needs to residents of residential flat buildings.

“With limited access to private open space, residents of boarding houses will increase the need for council to provide public open space.”