Pyrmont will become Sydney’s next “economic and jobs hub” according to the NSW government, under plans likely to smooth the path for high-rise development after a proposed Star casino tower was controversially opposed by government bureaucrats.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said new planning controls to be developed by the government would see Pyrmont and the precinct west of Sydney Harbour become the “gateway to the CBD”.
The government would also accelerate investigations into building a Metro station to support the area’s growth, she said.
It comes after the NSW Department of Planning refused to support The Star’s plan for a $500 million Ritz-Carlton hotel and 204 residential apartments in July, warning the 66-storey building proposed would have “unacceptable visual impacts due to its scale”.
The decision triggered a wave of opposition from media supporters of the tower, including 2GB’s Alan Jones and The Daily Telegraph.
The following month Ms Berejiklian ordered the Greater Sydney Commission to conduct a snap review of Pyrmont’s planning controls, which is now complete.
The review found the peninsula at the western edge of the CBD was not living up to its “economic potential”, major projects were “disconnected from each other” and planning processes were becoming “increasingly complex and difficult to understand”.
The review recommended developing a masterplan and economic strategy for the Pyrmont precinct considering the individual character and potential of its various districts, and establishing a timeframe and options for implementing the strategy.
On Saturday the Berejiklian government announced it would adopt all three of the review’s recommendations.
“We have successfully transformed Barangaroo into a spectacular waterfront precinct and are in the midst of revitalising Central. Pyrmont is the next frontier,” Ms Berejiklian said.
We have successfully transformed Barangaroo into a spectacular waterfront precinct and are in the midst of revitalising Central. Pyrmont is the next frontier.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian
Planning Minister Rob Stokes added the government would “immediately” move to amend the planning controls with a focus on jobs and economic activity to better support proposals to develop the area.
“We can support larger scale development and maintain the unique heritage nature of Pyrmont – it’s not an ‘either/or’ choice,” Mr Stokes said.
“However, we must plan for the precinct strategically, rather than on a site-by-site basis.”
Mr Stokes said the government would ensure there was greater co-ordination of large-scale developments in Pyrmont, including The Star casino, the future Fish Market site and the Harbourside Shopping Centre.
“This is our opportunity to work together to develop a vision and collaboratively plan for the future of Pyrmont, which hasn’t been done in more than 20 years,” Mr Stokes said.
The comments have triggered concerns about the state government overriding the role of local councils in guiding the development and rezoning of key precincts.
But City of Sydney councillor Linda Scott, president of Local Government NSW, the peak body for councils across the state, said councils “must retain the power to develop strategic plans for the areas we are democratically elected to represent”.
“The Greater Sydney Commission has recommended a new place-based plan for Pyrmont and the City of Sydney is best placed to drive this,” she said.
City of Sydney’s lord mayor Clover Moore said she welcomed a place-based approach rather than the “site-by-site ad hoc planning” that had been used in the past.
“We need real place-making that takes into account transport, public space, solar access and, importantly, community consultation, like we’ve done across the city,” she said.
“The City of Sydney stands ready to lead this process, but such a collaboration will require the state government to be more transparent about its intentions for development of sites it owns, such as The Star casino, Fish Markets and the Powerhouse Museum sites.”
Katherine O’Regan, executive director of the Sydney Business Chamber, welcomed the pledge to transform Pyrmont and said the government must now prioritise replacing “restrictive, out-of-date planning controls” with a simplified planning framework.
Pyrmont was named on a list of potential sites for “intermediate stations” for the Sydney Metro West last year, alongside Kings Bay, North Burwood or Five Dock, and Camellia or Rydalmere.