Sydney’s Lord Mayor Slams Government Support of Martin Place Proposal


Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore has expressed serious concerns over the New South Wales government's amendment of planning controls to allow the approval of two towers in Sydney's historic Martin Place.

Macquarie Bank’s Metro Martin Place proposal gained key approval in March of this year, overcoming objections from two independent reports, Dexus, GPT Group, the Australian Institute of Architects and Moore.

Moore aired her grievances this week via Twitter, saying that she is "becoming increasingly concerned" about the approval of Macquarie Bank's unsolicited $637 million proposal.

“Martin Place belongs to the people of Sydney, not Macquarie Bank."

“Martin Place is Sydney's most important civic space. It's where people gather for important cultural events and for important occasions like the Anzac Day ceremonies.” Moore said.

Related reading: Martin Place Proposal Gains Key Approval

The Australian Institute of Architects has taken exception to the lack of a tender process for the development which it said should have allowed other developers the chance to submit proposals for the above-station project in a competitive process.
Martin Place1

The New South Wales government amended Sydney’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP), allowing Macquarie to build eight-metres from the public realm despite normal requirements being a 25-metre setback for buildings exceeding 55 metres in height.

A representative from Macquarie told the Sydney Morning Herald adhering to the 25-metre setback would “limit opportunities for architectural expression,” and have “could have negative implications for the commercial viability of the development”.

Macquarie sought planning permission through an “unsolicited proposal” application, with the intention being that if the NSW government approved the proposal, the developer can commence works promptly and deliver the project by 2024.

It's estimated the integrated station project would provide a new transport hub and generate more than 10,000 new jobs in the Sydney CBD.
Martin Place2

Moore claims the unsolicited proposal process has allowed Macquarie to bypass the proper planning processes and controls that other developers have faced in Martin Place.

"These controls have been in place for 25 years and other developers, whether is the Westin Hotel, the MLC Centre, and even the state government's own headquarters have all been examples of respecting that control," Moore said.

NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts told the ABC several stakeholders had been consulted before amending the LEP and the final designs — which had not yet been approved — would be subject to significant scrutiny.

"Detailed design of the building facade will also ensure the development is consistent with historic buildings in the Martin Place precinct,"

"The Government Architect will contribute to the final detailed design." Roberts said.

The $637 million Macquarie Group proposal has been designed by Grimshaw and Johnson Pilton Walker.
Macquarie Group3

A spokesman for the minister also outlined the detailed design of the building facade would ensure the development is consistent with historic buildings in the Martin Place precinct.

Yet despite these considerations, Moore sees the current proposal as a severe threat to the integrity of Martin Place's history.

“This rubber-stamped proposal threatens the significant heritage values of Martin Place, where some of our most important events and rituals are held, including ceremonies at the Cenotaph to honour those that fought and died in war.”

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