The NSW government has given in-principle approval to new planning controls that will see a 40-year cap on building heights in Sydney's CBD removed.
The draft Central Sydney Planning Strategy, unveiled in 2016 by the City of Sydney, proposes the biggest changes to planning in Central Sydney since 1971, and the first major change to the statutory planning since 1996.
Under the strategy, developers will be able to build above current height limits, up to 300 metres, if the towers in the CBD were positioned exclusively for commercial use.
The new cap would be nearly 24-storeys taller than the city's current tallest commercial building, Chifley Tower.
NSW planning minister Rob Stokes and Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore have green lit the 20-year development strategy, which would also require all new towers over 55 metres to be at least half commercial.
“If we want Sydney to maintain its status as a global city and economic powerhouse, it’s vital that we balance the need for commercial floor space with residential development in the city centre,” lord mayor Clover Moore said.
“Central Sydney’s residents, workers and visitors are best served by collaboration between the city and the state government. This plan strikes a balance between fostering new businesses and growth while protecting and enhancing the great public spaces that make our city unique.”
The changes relate to four distinct precincts near Barangaroo, Circular Quay, Central and Town Hall and increase the proportion of office space at the expense of residential development.
The strategy includes the expansion of Central Sydney to reabsorb The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Ultimo and Central Railway to Cleveland Street.
“Sydney CBD is Australia's economic gateway to the world, generating nearly $110 billion each year,” Stokes said.
“This strategy means we will deliver nearly three million square metres of new office space to ensure Sydney remains the commercial hub of the nation.
“Having a single consent authority and framework will make planning more consistent and reduce red tape and hurdles.”
Another key change under the strategy would be the introduction of an affordable housing levy.
The levy would eventually cost commercial developers 1 per cent of the value of the project and residential developers 3 per cent of their value.
The NSW government negotiated three amendments to the strategy before giving its approval.
The amendments include an increase for up to 50 per cent more floor space for development in certain areas, promoting office space by removing a residential accommodation bonus and a new development contributions plan to fund public infrastructure.