A joint proposal by a consortium of high profile developers has won the support of an independent planning panel for the $1 billion redevelopment of Sydney’s Cockle Bay Wharf.
The consortium, GPT Wholesale Office Fund, Canada's Brookfield and AMP Capital Wholesale Office Fund, lodged its initial development application for the precinct in 2016, sounding out plans for a 183-metre commercial tower on the eastern edge of Darling Harbour.
Construction on the office tower and retail complex to sit above Sydney's Western Distributor freeway, was anticipated to commence last year.
The tower will be the fourth $1 billion-plus tower for the Cockle Bay precinct despite objections from the City of Sydney council and members of the public who voiced their concerns about visual amenity and overshadowing impacts, particularly on the nearby Astoria Tower and Millennium Tower, as well as private view loss.
The 60,000sq m building will comprise 40 levels of office space and will target a 6 Green Star rating and 5 Star NABERS energy rating.
The concept proposal also includes the demolition of some existing buildings and pedestrian bridges and the addition of 1-hectares of public space including new shops, bars and restaurants along the waterfront.
The commission's approval of the concept proposal, subject to conditions, also means two of the footbridges over the Western Distributor will be demolished to make way for a deck and large publicly-accessible open space over the motorway.
A third footbridge at Druitt Street will be upgraded as part of the redevelopment, which also includes new shops, bars and restaurants.
The commission concluded the provision of open space on the site represented a public benefit.
The Clover Moore-led Sydney council had objected to the potential for overshadowing from the proposed tower for a planned town hall square and the wind impact of the redevelopment.
Earlier this week, the NSW Independent Planning Commission found that any extra overshadowing of the planned square opposite Town Hall would not occur before 4pm and would be outside hours of "peak utilisation", such as lunch time.
The commission acknowledged the City of Sydney's concerns regarding potential overshadowing but said a draft plan to improve solar access protection did not carry any statutory weight.
The commission went on to say the consortium’s redevelopment would make a valuable contribution to the area by creating active and passive public open spaces, landscaping the Darling Harbour foreshore.
The revitalised wharf would also have "reasonable and acceptable impacts" on view loss and overshadowing for the Astoria Tower and Millennium Tower on nearby Sussex Street.
The commission added that the bulk and scale of the redevelopment is acceptable – and noted that the applicant’s design excellence strategy, incorporating a competitive design process, was appropriate and would ensure “future development on the site achieves design excellence”.