NSW Planning Rejects Star’s $500m Pyrmont Casino

Star Entertainment Group has expressed its disappointment at NSW Planning's recommendation to reject its $500 million hotel and casino development at Pyrmont.

The 66-storey, Ritz Carlton-branded tower looked set to bring the Marriott International brand back to the harbour city, after Sydney’s two Ritz-Carlton hotels closed a decade ago.

However, the Planning Department have expressed their concerns over the development outlining the lack of alignment with emerging government planning direction or response to the local character of Pyrmont.

▲ In total the Department received 83 objections from the public. Image: fjmt
▲ In total the Department received 83 objections from the public. Image: fjmt

The recommendation comes a year after plans were lodged with the NSW Planning Department.

In its report, the department concluded the proposed development was inconsistent with surrounding buildings in height and form and “would not contribute positively to the skyline”.

The waterfront suburb of Pyrmont is characterised by an established low- to medium-scale character while supporting reasonably high levels of density.

Star's luxury development was set to comprise 220 Ritz-Carlton hotel rooms along with 200 high-end residences within a 230-metre tower, which would adjoin the gaming company’s casino building.

The project would also add new amenity to the existing casino complex including a rooftop pool area with harbour views and up to 15 additional food and beverage outlets.

▲ The proposed tower is more than eight times the maximum building height permitted under the Local Environmental Plan. Image: fjmt
▲ The proposed tower is more than eight times the maximum building height permitted under the Local Environmental Plan. Image: fjmt

“While numerous taller buildings are situated within Darling Harbour and Barangaroo, these form part of cohesive clusters of high-density buildings, associated with strategically identified precincts,” planning authorities said.

“The same context does not apply to the Star site.”

“The plan would introduce a new tower form that is inconsistent with its immediate context and 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.”

NSW Minister for planning Rob Stokes said the department’s assessment reflects the consistent and widespread opposition to the scale of this proposal.

“The report is the result of an exhaustive process and provides some clear advice for the independent decision-maker to consider,” Stokes said.

Lord mayor of the City of Sydney, Clover Moore said the council was “delighted” with the department's assessment, which she said had taken the community's concerns into account.

The fate of The Star’s tower now rests with the Independent Planning Commission.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel at The Star casino in Sydney
▲ Star undertook two community consultation programs during the application process. A reported 5,000 people attended the development's display centre during the public exhibition period. Image: fjmt

The Australian casino operator has undergone a drawn-out planning and design process partnering with Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook and Far East Consortium.

The casino group enlisted Richard Francis-Jones of FJMT to design the tower, which sits within Star’s existing design blueprint at Darling Harbour.

“We’re extremely disappointed with the recommendation,” a Star Entertainment Group spokesperson said.

“Since first applying for the environmental assessment requirements four years ago, we have committed ourselves to design excellence and comprehensive community consultation.”

During the design process the listed gaming group worked alongside NSW government architect Peter Poulet, and Marriott International's regional vice president for hotel development James Doolan, who attended the company's design excellence panel.

“Sydney needs new and refreshed tourism infrastructure or risk losing international visitors to other states, other countries.

“We want to spend half a billion dollars on helping NSW increase its appeal to the inbound visitor market.

“For now, we will take time to review the report and the department’s position, and consider the avenues and other opportunities available to us.”

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