Star’s bold building plan raises eyebrows

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Crown Sydney to open doors on December 28 but casino to remain shut

The Star Casino’s bid to build a new tower in Pyrmont plans to exceed the height limit of draft planning rules by almost double. 

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that one of two towers the casino wants to build in Pyrmont exceeds the planning rules for the inner Sydney suburb.

Its revised plans to build two towers come less than a year after an independent panel rejected its $553 million proposal for a 237-metre tall casino tower.

These two towers, part of a $1 billion redevelopment, include a proposed 110-metre tower at the northern end of the existing site and a 180-metre high rise at its south at another location it owns on Union Street.

The 110-room northern tower would include a 250-room hotel and signature restaurant, would be almost double the government’s proposed height limits for that area of 60 metres. 

The Star said in a submission that a 110-metre tower “would be required to ensure a hotel of six-star standard” and would be “less than half the height” of its original Ritz-Carlton proposal.

Labor’s planning spokesman Adam Searle said it was concerning the proposal for the northern tower would be “significantly out of keeping” with the government’s planning strategy for the suburb.

“We should have a sensitive and balanced approach to planning,” he said.

“Given the recent history of Pyrmont, we would be concerned if the proposal went beyond what the government is currently envisaging for Pyrmont,” he said.

Shops, hotel and restaurants all part of expansion bid

Under The Star’s plans, the southern tower proposed for Union Street would include shops, a restaurant, and bars, as well as a hotel and apartments. 

Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore said the planned towers should be carefully scrutinised to ensure they were sensitive to the area and sensitive to the area.

“Shaping the future of the Pyrmont peninsula must be more than an exercise in retro-fitting controls to justify inappropriate towers,” she said.

Planning minister Rob Stokes said the proposal was one of 130 submissions on the draft strategy for Pyrmont.

“This is not a development application before government so at this stage, there’s no specific plan for government to consider. But obviously we welcome those sorts of plans,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to finalising the plan for Pyrmont, based on all of those submissions over the next few weeks.”

The casino operator said in its submission that it expected the two sites to create about 1000 jobs during construction, and about the same number when the buildings were opened.

Independent member for Sydney Alex Greenwich described it as “deeply inappropriate” that The Star was proposing to increase the floor space of a casino on the city’s harbour.

“It really feels like a land grab on the harbour foreshore for the purposes of a casino,” he said.

A spokesman for The Star said there was no intention nor plans for the potential developments to include “any gaming facilities”.

The Committee for Sydney and other groups such as developer lobby Urban Taskforce have backed the casino operator’s plans as a way to stimulate economic growth.

A spokesman for the Committee for Sydney said there was no reason why taller buildings could not be constructed in Pyrmont provided they were matched by extra infrastructure such as a new train station and more public space and amenities.

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