LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Doctor questions boarding house's suitability for medical staff

This is regarding development applications under state environmental planning policy: affordable social housing.

CONCERNS: "We need developments that are fully compliant with any relevant legislation and meets the needs of this community, present and future," says Dr Ruth Arnold.

CONCERNS: "We need developments that are fully compliant with any relevant legislation and meets the needs of this community, present and future," says Dr Ruth Arnold.

What are the rights of local residents? What is the role of council?

It relates to the CWD story: `Not in our street: Boarding house developer confident despite opposition from residents’ published on August 8.

There have now been three such development proposals in Orange by the same developer, under the NSW planning legislation State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP)  for affordable rental housing.

This particular state planning policy is aimed at increasing the supply of affordable rental housing for low income, disadvantaged members of communities in NSW, close to transport and amenities.

The use of this NSW SEPP for DAs seems to step around the usual council planning procedures such as local zoning density, environmental and heritage plans, in order to achieve statewide aims.

It does seem to carry the potential to decrease the usual civil rights of rate payers affected by such development applications.

These three developments and the CWD coverage caught my attention for two reasons.

Firstly, some local community members were clearly very upset and did not feel included or heard in raising their concerns about the first 2 developments (CWD story).

Secondly, there was coverage in the CWD, confirmed by plans on display at Council, that the March St development was intended for “medical staff and professionals”.

As a local health professional, always keen to attract more doctors to town, I looked into this claim and I’m not convinced such developments are for healthcare professionals.

It seems misleading to the public and to the members of council, making decisions on behalf of our community, to advertise these developments (made under a state social housing SEPP) for medical staff.

If the development was intended for professionals, it does not seem to comply with the purpose and vision of the SEPP in supplying low cost social housing for the needy.

The plans, as displayed at council, don’t seem to meet the needs of medical professionals either for a variety of reasons including the three month minimum stay, boarding house rules, after hours restrictions and police conditioning for the site.

Orange needs developments that are sustainable, beautiful, well planned, fully compliant with any relevant legislation and that meet the needs of this community, present and future.

Council will meet on Tuesday night to consider the proposal and whether it is compatible with the character of the local area.

Hopefully the council meeting will provide a forum for information and detailed discussion of these plans and reach a decision in the best interests of the community of Orange.

Dr Ruth Arnold

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