It was a bad week for Star Entertainment Group. On Wednesday, their plans for a $530 million casino, apartment complex, and six-star hotel were rejected by the Independent Planning Commission.

The proposal involved the construction of a 237-metre tower in the Sydney suburb of Pyrmont. Currently, the area is zoned for buildings with a maximum height of 28 metres.

In July, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment suggested that the proposal should be rejected. This led to the hearing by the IPC, and they determined that the proposed tower would “result in unacceptable build form, including a tower of a height which is overly obtrusive and that will result in unreasonable and unacceptable impacts with respect to view loss, visual impact, and overshadowing.”

The Damning Review of Yvonne von Hartel

The Independent Planning Commission appointed architect Yvonne von Hartel to review the proposed tower, as well as previous assessments by other individuals. Here are some of her most critical quotes:

  • “The built form of the proposed development is challenging to the eye and the mind.”
  • “The tower itself is not sleek – rather it is a combination of cylindrical and part of cylindrical forms which start and stop apparently randomly.”
  • “The proposed residential and hotel tower draw attention to the attached casino.”
  • “If the development proceeds, it will be so much taller than any currently permissible development in the future and the singularity of a tower in Pyrmont and its disturbing built form will mark it as an intrusive object in the skyline.”

Reaction from Star Casino

So how did Star Casino react to the news? The Urban Developer reached out to Star’s representative, and they were informed that the casino had no prior notification of the ruling. They then added that gambling giant was “still digesting the full findings before we announce our next steps.”

Later, however, the Star spokesperson was feeling more talkative. They released a statement to the media saying, “We want to spend more than $500 million on helping New South Wales drive tourism. This development would create around 1,000 jobs, provide opportunities for suppliers, and deliver significant economic benefits.”

Artist's rendering of Pyrmont Tower in Sydney

Reaction from Supporters of Star Casino

The following are some of the more notable reactions from supporters of the Pyrmont Tower project. As you might have guessed, they were less than pleased with the decision of the IPC.

  • Margy Osmond, CEO of the Tourism and Transport Forum, said, “This is a sad day for Australian tourism. After four long years and millions of dollars invested on extensive consultation with the government, the community and stakeholders, for an unelected planning body to arrive at a decision like this is simply short-sighted.”
  • Michael Johnson, CEO of Tourism Accommodation Australia, was also unhappy with the decision. According to him, “This decision is disappointing, as Sydney really needs new six-star hotels to attract the luxury traveller to keep our status as a global city.”
  • The Sydney Business Chamber also weighed in on the matter via Executive Director Katherine O’Regan. “The IPC’s outright rejection of the Star’s hotel in Pyrmont shows that it’s sadly out of touch with Sydney’s place as the nation’s global city, and it’s time to rethink the slow and inefficient planning process in NSW.”

Reaction from those Opposed to the Star Casino Project

Most of those opposed to the project were happy to go about their business after the ruling came down. After all, their side won.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore called it “a win for the integrity of the planning system, for the community, and for fairness.”

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

What the Future Holds

At this point, the entire matter is somewhat up in the air. The city of Sydney would no doubt love to increase tourism and boost jobs. However, any proposals will likely face even greater scrutiny moving forward.

However, Rob Stokes, the New South Wales Planning Minister, did offer some words of hope. He stated “the door’s not closed to a new hotel and apartment tower in Pyrmont.”

Additional Reading

Check out the following for more details about casino developments in Australia: