BY GEORGIA CLARK
A development application for the conversion of an 1840’s cottage into a hostel in Cleveland Street has sparked controversy in Redfern, with over a hundred residents calling for its abolishment after already discontent locals bear the brunt of a backpackers just one door up from the proposed new development.
120 upset residents of William, George, Pitt, Stanley and Cleveland Streets in Redfern submitted their signatures to the Councillors of the City of Sydney last month, arguing that there are fundamental flaws in the plan and that it’s contrary to a number of council guidelines, including height and hostel development restrictions.
Maggie and Doug McKelvey, who live adjacent to a backpackers that already exists on 207 Cleveland St, say backpackers have been causing disturbances near their home since a long battle taken to the Land and Environment Court was lost a few years ago.
“This development will add nothing to the neighbourhood and will only cause more garbage, noise, traffic and pollution from smokers. We need to ask – do we need another 114 beds… that totally ruins a beautiful heritage property? This is an excessive concentration in a very small space, of people who are not interested in Redfern except as a place to party,” said the couple.
The McKelveys argue the development of the 1840’s Georgian cottage is contrary to a section of the council’s Sydney Development Control Plan, which works to ensure backpacker accommodation is located away from predominantly residential areas. These provisions, however, are not legally binding.
According to the petition, three boarding houses and one other hostel are already in the vicinity. But this isn’t the McKelveys only concern. The couple argue that there are fundamental structural flaws with the plan. Liberal Councillor for the City of Sydney, Christine Forster said the concerns will be addressed in a May meeting.
“I’ve met with the residents who raised a number of concerns including the saturation of hostels in the area, access issues, heritage and general amenity impacts. However, without having seen the details of the DA that were amended late last year, I can’t comment until it comes to Council in May for consideration,” she said.
Council tabled the application in late March and said it would review it at a meeting in May.
But petitioners fear the development will be just another sell out.
“The architectural design is solely focused on maximum profit without any regard for the original building or local heritage conservation area. The extension is ugly and of poor quality materials,” said petitioners.
According to the McKelveys the hostel at 207 Cleveland St, which was also developed by Tricon, does not have a night manager despite promises by management that there would be one over 6 months ago. Tricon Developments were contacted but declined comment.
The McKelveys said they have had many confrontations with the backpackers and fear the situation will snowball if another hostel is built. Management at the hostel at 207 Cleveland Street were contacted for comment but did not provide any.
The development, which is estimated to cost almost $1.5 million and accommodate more than 62 people, would see a three story extension being built on the heritage site which would block the northerly sun from Maggie and Doug’s house of 36 years.
While the application has yet to be approved, the McKelveys say that developers have found a loophole which allows them to commence developments immediately.
“The applicant has commenced significant foundation work at the rear of the premises under the guise of a $36,000 renovation to internal structures,” they said.