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Pyrmont tower proposal planning issues remain

Wed, Sep 11, 7:44am by Staff Writer

The Fifth Estate has taken a unique perspective on the Star casino’s planning application in Sydney and its controversial tower proposal.

Perhaps “cynical disdain” better describes the Star’s casino proposal for a tower in Pyrmont.

The admittedly elegant building would house apartments and a franchise of the Ritz Carlton hotel chain – and exceed current height controls by eight-fold.

If it succeeds, Bennelong point and the Sydney Opera House look set to be replaced as Sydney icons by two casino-owned towers, one each on headlands to the west.

The apparent contempt for the public acquired risible dimensions in a double-page open-letter spread in The Telegraph by owners of The Star hilariously and unintentionally recast them as revolutionaries, prominent sporting tsars and other luminaries joined with Star City to urge Sydney to rise up and support the revolutionary project.

More than 20 years ago, Pyrmont was redeveloped from rust-belt slum to one of the densest and most attractive suburbs in the nation.

Achieved through incremental growth over many years, it was founded on an agreement between a Labor federal government, through its Building Better Cities initiative, a Liberal state government, with detailed involvement of its planning and development agencies, private sector developers and the Pyrmont community.

Its numerous achievements included retention of the area’s residents, precinct-wide conservation, expansion of educational facilities, extensive new residential development, a new media and technology hub for Sydney, and improvements to the peninsula’s services.

The return on government dollars spent was enormous.

One of the features of its careful planning was the distribution and scale of new towers.

Initially confined to three locations on the peninsula, including the existing Star City hotel, some additional towers were added near the ANZAC Bridge.

Pyrmont is one of Sydney’s planning and development successes.

The urban form of Pyrmont can be conceived as the embodiment of a public good; the physical expression of the public interest a “deal” comprising the virtuous overlap of public and private interests.

That “deal” is now done.

So why would anyone, particularly a major landholder in the precinct, wish to undo it?

The answer of course is money; not surprisingly for an industry whose value-added derives mainly from its turnover.

The value of urban land essentially derives from its location and its development rights.

Urban land has little intrinsic value – perhaps growing wheat- but proximity to other desirable locations and its permissible yield are both very valuable.

Star’s new tower hits a hurdle

Star Casino says it will push on with plans to build a $530 million tower in Sydney, despite it having been rejected by planning authorities.

The ABC reported in July that in a decision that has pitted anti-development groups against those in favour of tourism. The Star’s concept has been labeled “completely inappropriate” by one City of Sydney councillor and was rejected by the New South Wales Planning Department as inconsistent with the existing and future character of Pyrmont.

It is understood The Star is privately fuming over the decision, which puts its luxury 220-room Ritz-Carlton hotel and 204 residential apartments on hold, possibly for good.

The 66-storey building is on the other side of the Sydney Harbour from Crown’s half-complete Barangaroo skyscraper, and was pitched as part of Star’s plan to attract wealthy Chinese tourists.

Analysts suggest the development was also a critical part of Star’s future plans to lure tourists away from Crown’s controversial luxury casino and hotel, due to be complete in 2021.

It is understood Star still hopes the development will get over the line – despite the independent New South Wales Planning Panel, which has the final decision, usually taking Department advice.

In a statement, a Star spokesperson said it would “continue to seek approval”.

“We believe it will have a significant benefit for tourism, the city and for the state of New South Wales,” the spokesperson said.

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