Star Casino’s $529m Pyrmont Tower Refused

Plans for the new luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel and apartment tower at The Star casino complex in Pyrmont have been rejected by the state’s Independent Planning Commission.

The IPC refused the application on Wednesday – agreeing with the planning department’s assessment that “on balance the public benefits do not outweigh the impacts associated with the application.”

When contacted by The Urban Developer, a Star spokesperson said they “had no prior notification of the decision” and “are still digesting the full findings before we announce our next steps”.

Star Entertainment Group had sought approval for the $529-million development, that would have involved the demolition of part of the Star complex and the construction of a 237-metre tower, comprising a six-star Ritz-Carlton hotel and 204 residential apartments.

The fate of The Star’s tower had rested with the IPC after the NSW Planning department recommended to reject the hotel and casino development in July.

▲ The NSW Independent Planning Commission has rejected the Star casino’s plans for a hotel and luxury apartment tower in Pyrmont.
▲ The NSW Independent Planning Commission has rejected the Star casino’s plans for a 220-room hotel and luxury apartment tower in Pyrmont.

“We want to spend more than $500 million on helping New South Wales drive tourism,” a Star spokesperson said following the IPC's decision.

“This development would create around 1000 jobs, provide opportunities for suppliers and deliver significant economic benefits.”

After the lengthy process, New South Wales planning minister Rob Stokes said he was “pleased a decision has finally been made on the Star’s proposal”.

But that “the door’s not closed to a new hotel and apartment tower in Pyrmont,” Stokes said.

Concerns raised at the public meeting centred around the development’s bulk and scale, its incompatibility with the existing surrounding low-scale development, unacceptable visual impacts, view loss, overshadowing, lack of infrastructure to support the development, and increased traffic.

While supporters of the 66-storey proposed project cited its high-quality design and positive economic impacts, including job creation and tourism benefits, as reasons why it should be approved.

▲ The Star originally lodged plans for the luxury hotel and residential development in 2018.
▲ The Star originally lodged plans for the luxury hotel and residential development in 2018.

A polarising debate

The Star’s proposal was for a 237 metre tower, in an area currently zoned for a maximum height of 28 metres.

City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore described the decision as “a win for the integrity of the planning system”.

“Approving this development would have required the most significant departure from planning controls in New South Wales history,” she said.

But the Sydney Business Chamber has slammed the IPC’s decision as “out of touch”.

“It’s time to rethink the slow and inefficient planning process in New South Wales,” Sydney Business Chamber executive director Katherine O’Regan said.

“The current review into the Independent Planning Commission should spell its demise as the arbiter of important projects like the Ritz- Carlton tower.

“The rejection of the project also sends a damaging signal to international investors, at a time we desperately need investment capital to keep Sydney growing.”

In October, Premier Gladys Berejiklian flagged Pyrmont and the Western Harbour precinct would be transformed into the next jobs hub and economic driver of Sydney under a government plan to revitalise the inner-city precinct.

Berejiklian made the announcement following the release of the Greater Sydney Commission’s (GSC) review into the area’s planning rules.

“We’re working on a bold new masterplan for Pyrmont that will allow it to be the city’s next entertainment and innovation hub,” Stokes said this week.

“We’re keen for the Star to collaborate on this work to ensure any new development is delivered as part of a strategic plan.”

The IPC said it found The Star's application inconsistent with the GSC review including the Pyrmont Peninsula Planning Framework Review, which has recommended a holistic place-based approach over a project-based approach.

Further north

On the Gold Coast, Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones announced on Thursday the state government would begin direct negotiations with The Star Entertainment Group to fast track new tourism infrastructure.

Jones said The Star had been issued terms for negotiation with the government for the delivery of its Gold Coast master plan and to “fast-track new tourism infrastructure”.

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