Building war in one of nation’s priciest street with rich owners aghast at BOARDING HOUSE proposal


Property war erupts between wealthy homeowners in ‘Paris end’ of exclusive Sydney street and neighbours who want to develop a low-cost BOARDING HOUSE they claim will destroy their million-dollar harbour views

  • Residents of luxury apartment block The Pomeroy are gearing up for a fight
  • They are aghast at proposed boarding house which will block their harbour view
  • The six-storey low cost housing will have 28 ‘tiny’ 12 metre square rooms
  • It is in exclusive Sydney suburb home to billionaires and a $80m trophy house
  • Apartment block home to wine baron, socialite, bankers, architects 
  • Owners say they are ‘devastated’ low cost housing will ‘annihilate’ their view 


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A property war has erupted between the rich apartment owners of a luxury building in an exclusive Sydney suburb and a neighbour who wants to block their view with a six-storey boarding house for low cost renters.

Residents of Pomeroy at the ‘Paris end’ of Macleay Street, Elizabeth Bay include Sutton Motors empire scion Bruce Sutton, wine baron John Piven-Large, Marcs fashion widow Lisa Keighery, and renowned architect-developers, Susan and Terry Rothwell.

Just bought in to the Pomeroy, which has sparkling views of the harbour, is charity maven Skye Leckie, the recently- widowed wife of TV legend David Leckie.

The proposed $3.39 million boarding house is on Billyard Avenue, just a few steps from the $7m apartment of Aussie Home Loans boss John Symond’s daughter, Deborah.

It would obscure the water views Pomeroy residents on 14 Macleay Street currently enjoy between Garden Island and Point Piper.

Owners in luxury apartments Pomeroy (above) in exclusive Elizabeth Bay are taking up the fight to a proposed boarding house which would 'annihilate' their million dollar views

Owners in luxury apartments Pomeroy (above) in exclusive Elizabeth Bay are taking up the fight to a proposed boarding house which would 'annihilate' their million dollar views

Owners in luxury apartments Pomeroy (above) in exclusive Elizabeth Bay are taking up the fight to a proposed boarding house which would ‘annihilate’ their million dollar views

The actual view from one of Pomeroy's apartments (above), where car mogul Bruce Sutton, wine baron, John Piven-Large and charity maven Skye Leckie own, go across the harbour to Point Piper and out to Middle Head

The actual view from one of Pomeroy's apartments (above), where car mogul Bruce Sutton, wine baron, John Piven-Large and charity maven Skye Leckie own, go across the harbour to Point Piper and out to Middle Head

The actual view from one of Pomeroy’s apartments (above), where car mogul Bruce Sutton, wine baron, John Piven-Large and charity maven Skye Leckie own, go across the harbour to Point Piper and out to Middle Head

Billyard Avenue, on which the boarding house is proposed, and adjoining Onslow Avenue is a billionaires' row of wealthy people in beautiful houses, including Aussie Home Loans boss John Symond's daughter, Deborah above)

Billyard Avenue, on which the boarding house is proposed, and adjoining Onslow Avenue is a billionaires' row of wealthy people in beautiful houses, including Aussie Home Loans boss John Symond's daughter, Deborah above)

Billyard Avenue, on which the boarding house is proposed, and adjoining Onslow Avenue is a billionaires’ row of wealthy people in beautiful houses, including Aussie Home Loans boss John Symond’s daughter, Deborah above) 

A few metres down the road from the low-cost house rooms proposed is $80m trophy home Boomerang (above) owned by trucking magnate, Lindsay Fox

A few metres down the road from the low-cost house rooms proposed is $80m trophy home Boomerang (above) owned by trucking magnate, Lindsay Fox

A few metres down the road from the low-cost house rooms proposed is $80m trophy home Boomerang (above) owned by trucking magnate, Lindsay Fox

It is also a few metres stroll from famed Australian trophy home, Boomerang, which is now up for sale for $80m by trucking magnate, Lindsay Fox.

Pomeroy residents have said they are ‘absolutely devastated’ at the boarding house development which is ‘going to annihilate our view, our light, our air, the lot’.

‘That is what you pay for,’ Roula Sfeir, who just moved in 18 months ago to the second floor of 14 Macleay Street, which will be obstructed if the boarding house goes ahead, Nine newspapers reported.

Neighbours told Daily Mail Australia the boarding rooms would be ‘totally out of character’ with adjoining streets and buildings and posed ‘height and overshadowing’ issues.

The rear of Pomeroy apartments which have sparkling harbour views abutt the Billyard Avenue house where the owners propose building six storeys of small apartments as assisted housing

The rear of Pomeroy apartments which have sparkling harbour views abutt the Billyard Avenue house where the owners propose building six storeys of small apartments as assisted housing

The rear of Pomeroy apartments which have sparkling harbour views abutt the Billyard Avenue house where the owners propose building six storeys of small apartments as assisted housing

The boarding house proposal (above, plans submitted to council) would block views from Pomeroy behind to at least the third floor 'annihilating' views of 'completely devastated residents'

The boarding house proposal (above, plans submitted to council) would block views from Pomeroy behind to at least the third floor 'annihilating' views of 'completely devastated residents'

The boarding house proposal (above, plans submitted to council) would block views from Pomeroy behind to at least the third floor ‘annihilating’ views of ‘completely devastated residents’

Charity maven Skye Leckie (above) has just exchanged on an apartment ibn Pomeroy

Charity maven Skye Leckie (above) has just exchanged on an apartment ibn Pomeroy

Trucking magnate Lindsay Fox (above, right with wife Paula) has the fabled Boomerang on the market for $80m

Trucking magnate Lindsay Fox (above, right with wife Paula) has the fabled Boomerang on the market for $80m

Charity maven Skye Leckie (left) has just exchanged on an apartment in Pomeroy, while trucking magnate Lindsay Fox (right with wife Paula) has put the fabled Boomerang on the market for $80m

The proposed developer of the 12 square metre low cost-housing rooms is retired investment adviser John Pooley who famously rowed with Pomeroy when he planted 16 Norfolk pine trees and residents hired tree removers Get Lopped to cut them down.

Mr Pooley and his wife Prudence Harper, a former nurse, have lived on Billyard Avenue in a 19th Century Victorian house directly behind 14 Macleay Street since 1988.

Pomeroy is on the old site of the Chateau Commodore Hotel whose car park Mr Pooley claimed spewed heat and fumes onto his house.

After he planted the Norfolk Pines as a buffer,  the hotel was redeveloped as an 39 apartment block designed with Tuscan columns, sandstone façade and carved entryway, marble foyer, and a large swimming pool and gym.

Pomeroy resident Roula Sfeir, who bought in 18 months ago, is 'absolutely devastated' and said the boarding house proposed is 'going to annihilate our view, our light, our air, the lot'

Pomeroy resident Roula Sfeir, who bought in 18 months ago, is 'absolutely devastated' and said the boarding house proposed is 'going to annihilate our view, our light, our air, the lot'

Pomeroy resident Roula Sfeir, who bought in 18 months ago, is ‘absolutely devastated’ and said the boarding house proposed is ‘going to annihilate our view, our light, our air, the lot’

View of the harbour out to Middle Head from the third floor of Pomeroy which would be obscured by the proposed boarding house which would be rented out to students and essential workers

View of the harbour out to Middle Head from the third floor of Pomeroy which would be obscured by the proposed boarding house which would be rented out to students and essential workers

View of the harbour out to Middle Head from the third floor of Pomeroy which would be obscured by the proposed boarding house which would be rented out to students and essential workers

Submitted plan of a single 12 sq m space in the boarding home, which proposes to  house 37 boarders in 28 rooms and were criticised by locals as 'tiny' and 'rooms with a loo'

Submitted plan of a single 12 sq m space in the boarding home, which proposes to  house 37 boarders in 28 rooms and were criticised by locals as 'tiny' and 'rooms with a loo'

Submitted plan of a single 12 sq m space in the boarding home, which proposes to  house 37 boarders in 28 rooms and were criticised by locals as ‘tiny’ and ‘rooms with a loo’ 

Front of the Billyard Avenue house owned by retired investor John Pooley and his wife, nurse Pru Harper, which want to 'give something back to the community' taking in boarders

Front of the Billyard Avenue house owned by retired investor John Pooley and his wife, nurse Pru Harper, which want to 'give something back to the community' taking in boarders

Front of the Billyard Avenue house owned by retired investor John Pooley and his wife, nurse Pru Harper, which want to ‘give something back to the community’ taking in boarders

When the trees grew and Pomeroy residents hired Get Lopped, Mr Pooley protested on the roof of his house facing the apartments with giant banner imprinted with the words ‘TREE KILLERS’.

The City of Sydney  council took Get Lopped to the Land and Environment Court where they pleaded guilty and were fined around $17,000.

In June 2018, Pomeroy set a record for one of the most expensive apartments in Sydney when a level one flat sold for more than $10 million.

The same apartment was previously the venue for fundraisers for then Federal MP, Malcolm Turnbull.

Former Future Fund member Susan Doyle and her husband, the former Barclays boss Richard Douglas, also moved in.

In 2013, liquor industry entrepreneur and former Cellarmaster owner John Piven-Large paid more than $15 million for property developer Bob Ell’s two-storey penthouse, with 650 square metres of internal space, plus wraparound terraces with both harbour and city views.

Fitness gurus Michelle Bridges and Steve ‘Commando’ Willis and their son Axel lived there before their split, with Bridges selling her apartment for $6.4 million in 2020. 

A former hotels, the 39 apartment block was redesigned with Tuscan columns, sandstone façade and carved entryway, marble foyer, generous patio and with a large swimming pool and gym

A former hotels, the 39 apartment block was redesigned with Tuscan columns, sandstone façade and carved entryway, marble foyer, generous patio and with a large swimming pool and gym

A former hotels, the 39 apartment block was redesigned with Tuscan columns, sandstone façade and carved entryway, marble foyer, generous patio and with a large swimming pool and gym 

Removal men pack up Michelle Bridges belongings outside Pomeroy apartments in June 2020, after the couple split and she sold her three-bedroom flat for $6.4m

Removal men pack up Michelle Bridges belongings outside Pomeroy apartments in June 2020, after the couple split and she sold her three-bedroom flat for $6.4m

Removal men pack up Michelle Bridges belongings outside Pomeroy apartments in June 2020, after the couple split and she sold her three-bedroom flat for $6.4m

Steve 'Commando' Willis on the Macleay Street footpath outside the luxury apartment block

Steve 'Commando' Willis on the Macleay Street footpath outside the luxury apartment block

Fitness guru Michelle Bridges (above) moving out of the Pomeroy

Fitness guru Michelle Bridges (above) moving out of the Pomeroy

Fitness gurus Michelle Bridges (right) and Steve ‘Commando’ Willis (left) and their son Axel Moving out of the Pomeroy after their split, with Bridges selling for $6.4m in 2020

Currents residents include architects-turned-property developers Susan and Garry Rothwell, who are Palm Beach’s largest private landowners.

Bruce Sutton, whose late father Sir Frederick Sutton founded Suttons Motors, and his wife Valerie paid $8,085,000 in late 2005 for their level-six apartment.

Sky Leckie, whose maverick husband David died in July last year, settled  just weeks ago on an apartment which faces Macleay Street. 

Pomeroy’s residents have hired a lawyer, architect and heritage consultant to advise the sub-committee they have formed to fight the development.

Mr Pooley and Ms Harper, who previously planned a boutique hotel for the site, reportedly want to ‘give back’ to the community by providing low-cost housing.

A popular walkway down the side of where the proposed boarding house would be forms a short cut for people making their way from Elizabeth Bay down to the harbour's edge

A popular walkway down the side of where the proposed boarding house would be forms a short cut for people making their way from Elizabeth Bay down to the harbour's edge

A popular walkway down the side of where the proposed boarding house would be forms a short cut for people making their way from Elizabeth Bay down to the harbour’s edge

The rear of the 19th century house where teh couple propose erecting an six-storey boarding house with 28 rooms for 37 boarders

The rear of the 19th century house where teh couple propose erecting an six-storey boarding house with 28 rooms for 37 boarders

The rear of the 19th century house where teh couple propose erecting an six-storey boarding house with 28 rooms for 37 boarders

Potential boarders in the rooms would include ‘police, firefighters, nurses, teachers, defence personnel, chefs and students’ who ‘deserve to live safely and within close proximity to their work’.

The boarding rooms, of which there are with 28 rooms for 37 boarders, which have been described by locals as ‘tiny’ or ‘rooms with a loo’.

They would be built to the rear of the three-storey stucco Billyard Avenue house, which is not heritage listed but in a conservation area.

A popular walkway down the side of where the proposed boarding house would be forms a short cut for people making their way from Elizabeth Bay down to the harbour’s edge.

The large properties along Billyard Avenue are of Victorian and Spanish-style architecture and have names like ‘Del Rio’, “Casa del Sol’ and ‘The Palms’.

Boarders would also have access to communal bathrooms, with one wash basin, with hot and cold water, and one toilet for every ten residents.

Neighbour and retired architect and developer Wolfgang Houlton told Daily Mail Australia that the proposed development was ‘hardly in keeping with the existing’ Billyard Avenue house. 

The view back up to the Pomeroy and the site of the proposed boarding house along Billyard Avenue, a billionaires' row with houses including Australia's priciest, $80m Boomerang

The view back up to the Pomeroy and the site of the proposed boarding house along Billyard Avenue, a billionaires' row with houses including Australia's priciest, $80m Boomerang

The view back up to the Pomeroy and the site of the proposed boarding house along Billyard Avenue, a billionaires’ row with houses including Australia’s priciest, $80m Boomerang

Rear of the house where Pru Harper and John Pooley plan to build their 28 room boarding house , which wealthy locals say will 'annihilate' their views of the harbour

Rear of the house where Pru Harper and John Pooley plan to build their 28 room boarding house , which wealthy locals say will 'annihilate' their views of the harbour

Rear of the house where Pru Harper and John Pooley plan to build their 28 room boarding house , which wealthy locals say will ‘annihilate’ their views of the harbour

 He said the boarding house structures, which look like two plain rectangular towers, were ‘starkly contrasting architecturally and in colour’ and ‘out of character of the place’.

He said, however, that despite council height limits and restrictions with regard to overshadowing, ‘under the law in relation to property development there is no legal entitlement to a view’.

Several locals scoffed at the idea the new building, if approved, would end up as a boarding house, saying it would more likely be turned into a hotel or apartments.

A further DA could be put in for a change of use to apartments or a hotel.

However, Mr Pooley’s architect, Tone Wheeler of Environa Studio, told Nine Newspapers the mostly wealthy neighbours of the the proposed boarding house ‘find it very hard to understand that John and Pru’s motivation for this is to provide some lower cost housing’.

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