By James Wilkinson
Sydney could get a new hotel next to the Royal Botanic Gardens under a 25-year master plan proposed by the Gardens’ governing body.
As part of the master plan, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust is proposing a boutique hotel over the entrance to the Domain Car Park on Sir John Young Crescent, land that’s currently used as a car park exit and bus layover area.
The hotel would feature rooftop gardens that would be available to the public and would maximise the available land.
With a shortage of hotel rooms in Sydney at present, the master plan is welcome news for the tourism industry.
However, former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating doesn’t see it that way and slammed the master plan in a column in the Sydney Morning Herald recently.
“The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust has outlined a plan which fundamentally commercialises this historic garden place,” Keating wrote.
“The plan seeks to give the gardens a railway station, a ferry wharf, a hotel, a permanent sound stage and, as inappropriate as these things are, worse than that, three clumsily placed buildings.
Keating said it’s more about pleasing the Art Gallery of New South Wales than anything else.
“The gardens trust has thrown its lot in with the management and board of the Art Gallery of NSW, for the gallery to jump the expressway separating the gardens from the Domain, extending the gallery building into the gardens proper, a whopping 10,000 square metres of space,” Keating wrote in the SMH.
“And this is proposed despite the fact that the natural and obvious place for the gallery to extend itself is along its own southern wall, taking new development space from the existing Domain car park.
“Instead, the plan has the Domain car park being developed as a hotel. And why would the Art Gallery of NSW want to sully the gardens’ green profile with another large outbuilding? The answer: the view. The view over Woolloomooloo Bay to the broader Harbour.”
The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust said the desired outcome of the Master Plan was for the “Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney and Domain to be improved for future generations to better meet the needs of visitors, not only from Sydney but from across the world”.
Having a new boutique hotel on land that’s significantly under-utilised is a win for the city, says TTF Chief Executive Ken Morrison.
“We are pleased to see the proposal for a hotel on the western boundary of the Domain, which will add welcome capacity to Sydney’s accommodation stocks,” he said.
Also included in the Master Plan is a new railway station near Woolloomooloo, a ferry wharf and a permanent sound stage for concerts.
The Master Plan can be viewed at Lion Gate Lodge at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney from Monday 28 April to Sunday 4 May 2014, from 8.30 am until 5 pm and on weekends from 10 am until 4 pm.