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Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour prepares for lift off

Helicopters will be able to access the public helipad if Dr Schwartz’s plans are approved.

Construction of a permanent helipad on the roof of the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is set to be considered after hotel owner, Dr Jerry Schwartz, announced his intention to develop the facility in an effort to boost the city’s economy.

The first stage of the plan will see an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared and submitted to the City of Sydney Council for consideration. This process will incorporate consultation with local businesses, residents and other stakeholders, including air traffic control authorities.

Potential impacts and operational feasibilities, including noise levels and proposed flight paths utilising lanes used by helicopters which already fly over the city, are also to be discussed. The EIS will also detail the availability of the helipad for use by emergency services as needed.

Darling Harbour is designated as a tourism, convention and business zone, Dr Schwartz said, with the Sydney CBD having previously offered a public helipad prior to the redevelopment of the former rail yards in the 1980s. The proposal is bound to draw support from high-level business circles due to its close proximity to the International Convention Centre. Currently, the city’s only public helipads are located in Bankstown and Mascot, outside the CBD, making access by VIP visitors difficult.

Dr Jerry Schwartz

Dr Schwartz said the world’s great cities all offered CBD helipads and that helicopter access to the CBD would help rejuvenate the city’s economy and provide new access to the city for high-profile dignitaries, such as political leaders.

“There’s no doubt that this infrastructure would significantly benefit Sydney’s business and convention profile and provide delegates attending the ICC and Sydney CBD the highest security, while also ensuring disruptions to city traffic are minimised,” said Dr Schwartz.

“With Coronavirus impacting all areas of life, economic stimulus needs to be a key component of the recovery process for Sydney. This forward-thinking proposal will help stimulate the local industry, establish Sydney as one of the world’s great convention cities, and boost business opportunities for all sectors,” he added.

The proposed helipad would be classified as an aircraft facility under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation. Public comment opportunities on the EIS will be available once put on display as part of the application process.

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