The Star Entertainment Group says it is carefully digesting and assessing a decision yesterday by the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) to reject its AUD$529 million redevelopment proposal before deciding on its next steps.
The three-person commission affirmed an earlier decision made in July by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to knock back the redevelopment, which would have included a 237-metre tower and podium along with a 220-room luxury hotel proposed to be managed under the Ritz-Carlton brand. Plans also included 204 residential apartments, basement car parking and a neighbourhood centre for the Pyrmont and surrounding communities.
“Given we had no prior notification of the decision we are still digesting the full findings before we announce next steps,” a spokesperson for The Star Entertainment Group said.
In a statement, the IPC determined the new tower would be inconsistent with its immediate context. In addition, it deemed it would “result in unacceptable visual impacts due to its scale, isolation and visual dominance of the existing Pyrmont character and fails to promote good design and amenity of the built environment.”
Agreeing with the government’s decision, the IPC concluded that “on balance the public benefits do not outweigh the impacts associated with the Application.”
CLICK HERE to read the IPC statement in full.
Marriott International said it strived to work with partners around the world to bring its distinct brands to life and that it looked forward to bringing the Ritz-Carlton brand to Sydney in the future.
“As a hotel manager and franchisor, we partner with individual property owners who will obtain all necessary permits to ensure their projects gain government approval and comply with local regulations. We are not involved in the government-approval process,” a Marriott spokesperson told HM.
“As we continue to look for new opportunities to expand our footprint and grow our portfolio of brands in the Australian market, we hope one day to work with Star on hotel projects.”
The decision was quickly criticised by several major tourism and hotel associations, with Tourism Accommodation Association (TAA) reiterating calls for Sydney to focus on new luxury projects.
“This decision is disappointing as Sydney really needs new six-star hotels to attract the luxury traveller to keep our status as a global city,” said TAA CEO, Michael Johnson.
“This is a lost opportunity, especially in the midst of the revitalization of the Sydney CBD with light rail and the proposed removal of the lockouts.”
Accommodation Association of Australia CEO, Dean Long, said the decision demonstrated the existing planning system was not working to support the NSW visitor economy.
“The Star has spent four and a half years in planning and made a huge investment, to only have the Planning Committee reject what would have been a game-changer for the Darling Harbour precinct,” Long told HM.
“We are extremely disappointed that the government has failed to demonstrate a long term vision for the Sydney and NSW visitor economy by approving this development.”
Tourism and Transport Forum Chief Executive, Margy Osmond, labelled the decision a “tragedy” for tourism in Sydney.
“After four long years and millions of dollars invested on extensive consultation with the government, the community and stakeholders, for an unelected planning body to arrive at a decision like this is simply short-sighted,” she said.
“The city is crying for out for more hotel accommodation and we can’t get enough luxury beds built.
“Today’s decision by the Independent Planning Commission sends a message to local and international investors that Sydney, the Gateway to Australia is closed for business,” Osmond said.
The Star Entertainment Group said more than 1,000 jobs and numerous economic benefits would have been associated with the proposal.
“We just hope this does not prove to be a lost opportunity for Sydney,” it added.