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Stoush over landmark views at site of Sydney’s newest casino

Tue, Nov 20, 12:10pm by Staff Writer

James Packer’s latest casino and hotel venture in Barangaroo, New South Wales gained approval from the New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission in 2016.

Since then the project has been fraught with legal challenges after features that the Crown Resorts building would hinder harbour views for Lendlease’s residential apartment owners.

Crown and Lendlease launched legal action against the state-run Barangaroo Delivery Authority (BDA) in the Supreme Court in a bid to protect ‘sight lines’ to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from their developments.

The BDA is a state government agency responsible for the development and management of the Barangaroo precinct.

Crown sought to stop the agency from going ahead with a development that would obstruct views of Sydney’s key landmarks.

“The proceeding seek injunctive relief and declarations against the BDA that, in substance, require the BDA to comply with a number of its contractual obligations under the Crown Development Agreement,” the statement to the ASX said.

The casino is set to cost A$2.2 billion to construct and is on schedule to open in 2021.

The 5.2-hectare site will contain three hectares of public space for recreation, events and entertainment.

It will also contain a Sydney Metro station and community, civic and cultural spaces and attractions with residential, retail and commercial uses.

New Sydney casino hopes to lure high stakes gamblers

Crown is relying on the unobstructed Barangaroo views to entice wealthy Chinese gamblers to visit, after the company abandoned its gambling businesses in Macau and Las Vegas.

The company’s reported profits fell 70 per cent to A$559 million in the 2018-19 financial year.

Crown’s greatest improvement came from high-stakes gamblers in Australia or VIP turnover, which surged 54.5 per cent to A$51.5 billion.

Three quarters of this came from Melbourne’s Crown Casino, which took A$38 billion.

This is an improvement on 2017 figures that saw a fall of 49 per cent in VIP turnover after a Chinese government crackdown on gambling led to high-rollers putting off their overseas ventures.

Crown’s withdrawal from Macau coincided with an incident where 19 of its employees were arrested in China. The company has declared a final dividend of 30 cents per share, franked at 18 cents.

Only a fraction of Crown’s rooms would have poor sight lines

A report released by Crown in early November details that only a small proportion of hotel rooms and none of the apartments at the casino site will be obstructed by a neighbouring development.

The most recent Central Barangaroo plans prepared by the BDA would block Crown’s views of the base of the Harbour Bridge only from level three to level seven of the 71-storey development, or 15 metres of the 275-metre tower.

Those levels include a proposed restaurant, gym and executive offices.

Only a fraction of Crown’s hotel rooms on floors seven to 24 would be unable to view the north-west tip of the Sydney Opera House, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The sight lines at Lendlease’s development close to Crown’s will be significantly more affected than Crown’s casino complex.

Lendlease has plans to construct three buildings, dominated by twin residential towers at the same waterfront site.

Lendlease chief executive Steve McCann wrote to all NSW cabinet members in August 2018 stating that multibillion-dollar investments required “certainty” about outcomes, and all parties acting “in the true spirit of the agreement.”

“Unfortunately, in relation to sight lines, this is no longer the case,” Mr McCann’s letter said.

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