City keeps boarding house residents safe

20 Dec 2018

A boarding house at 86 Waratah Street Mayfield will shortly re-open following successful regulatory action to address serious planning and fire safety breaches.

City of Newcastle (CN) served Emergency Development Control Orders on the owners of the boarding house in September 2018, requiring the removal of all residents due to serious fire safety risks and to address significant unauthorised works at the premises.

The owner of the Mayfield boarding house, Mr Aaron Buman, contacted CN on 17 December advising that various works to remove unauthorised structures, and improve fire safety as required by the Emergency Orders, had been undertaken.

CN’s Director of Governance David Clarke said following a request from the owner, CN’s investigation officers inspected the Mayfield premises to assess compliance with the Orders.

Subject to the owner addressing several outstanding minor matters and issuing a final fire safety certificate, CN will remove the Emergency Orders enabling the Mayfield premises to be occupied again," Mr Clarke said.

“The safety of residents in this boarding house is a priority. CN was left with no choice but to take regulatory action to close the boarding house due to the serious fire safety risks caused by the owner undertaking unauthorised works and failing to comply with fire safety standards.

“The owner purchased and converted an adjoining three-bedroom residential property at 84 Waratah Street into a ten-bedroom boarding house without any planning approvals, and joined that property to his existing boarding house at 86 Waratah Street via a series of unauthorised awnings and structures, resulting in an unacceptable fire safety risk, which was compounded by a lack of fire exits and other safety requirements.

“The owner installed 14 timber “cubby house” style cabins at the rear of 86 Waratah Street without any planning approvals and with serious fire safety deficiencies compromising the safety of residents.

“These actions created an unacceptable fire safety risk to the residents and resulted in the boarding house being closed.

“Earlier this month, Mr Buman submitted a draft Fire Safety Report for 86 Waratah Street, Mayfield. It concluded, in part, that a sprinkler and alarm system in the building would provide levels of safety within the building that will afford the buildings’ occupants an acceptable level of protection in the event of fire."

"CN intends to issue fresh orders requiring the owner to install a sprinkler system in the Mayfield boarding house and meet other recommendations contained in the Fire Safety Report.

“Despite taking legal action (which was subsequently withdrawn) and mounting a vigorous public relations campaign against CN, the owner has now complied with the Emergency Orders, enabling the boarding house at 86 Waratah Street Mayfield to re-open."

“CN's boarding house compliance program has improved the safety of residents at the Mayfield boarding house. The owner showed a flagrant disregard for planning and fire safety requirements and it has only been through our regulatory action that the owner has now complied to ensure the safety of his residents.

“The owner has restored the adjoining residential property at 84 Waratah Street to a three- bedroom residential property. It will not be able to be used as a boarding house until and unless appropriate planning approvals are obtained.

“A boarding house at Carrington owned by the same owner remains closed due to fire safety risks.

“CN expect that all local boarding house operators now recognise that they must take action in response to compliance matters identified by our current audit program. Last year a boarding house in Crebert Street Mayfield and not owned by Mr Buman, was similarly shut down due to fire safety concerns. In that case, the owner chose to sell the property rather than undertake the required safety work."