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    A bubble over Sydney’s Parramatta: Council wants no-fly zone for taller towers

    Geraldine Chua

    New South Wales’ Parramatta Council has called for a no-fly zone over its CBD so that buildings up to 500 metres high – taller than Australia’s tallest building, Q1 Tower by Sunland Group – can be constructed without regard to flight paths.

    Aviation regulations currently restrict building heights to approximately 90 storeys, or 300 metres, in Parramatta to assist pilots flying by sight, while developments exceeding about 159 metres require approval.

    But Lord Mayor Scott Lloyd says the legislations are hindering the city’s vision to become a “dual CBD”, and that getting approval for the individual buildings to breach the lower limit is itself a “costly, complex and uncertain” process which discourages developers.

    “We are a city, we're not a country town. We're building Australia's next great city," said Lloyd to the Sydney Morning Herald.

    "We want an exclusion, a no-fly zone over the top of the city. When we do change these heights, it will definitely put Parramatta on the map."

    The call for a ‘bubble’ over its CBD comes after aviation authorities intervened to reduce the proposed residential tower, Aspire by Grimshaw Architects, by up to 30 storeys – a move that was slammed by Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson, who said authorities need to work with Sydney “as a twenty first century city and not against aspirations for taller buildings”.

    “It seems that a maximum height of 243 metres is being proposed across all of Sydney which limits buildings to around 70 storeys. Brisbane already has buildings of 90 storeys and Melbourne has recently approved a 100 storey building so it seems strange that the aviation bureaucrats are out to keep Sydney lower,” Johnson said.

    “The aviation authorities need to relook at the future potential growth of Sydney’s centres and structure flight paths around these. The NSW Department of Planning and Environment must assert the importance of growth in Parramatta, the Sydney CBD and other centres so that height is not overly constrained. State and Federal Governments must work together for a solution that balances aviation needs and the future growth of cities.”

    Parramatta Councillors have reportedly unanimously voted to write to NSW Planning Minister Pru Goward asking that she work with the Federal Government to develop a new maximum building height to encourage the construction of taller, slimmer towers.

    “We're a progressive city and we want to be proactive instead of reactive. We want to be on the front foot. Sydney has talked about it but they haven't acted on it and so we're taking the lead," said Lloyd, referring to similar frustrations faced by the City of Sydney.

    Height controls vary among and within suburbs in Sydney. In the city, approval is required for buildings exceeding 156 metres in the CBD, and for those above 51 metres in Alexandria, which is closer to the Sydney airports.

    Aspire Tower by Grimshaw Architects is a winning design that twists upwards to maximise the capture of sun, breeze and views for its residents. Adaptable facades accommodate all of the various planning arrangements of apartment type into a modular system. The tower's spires reach 336 metre while the 305 metre roof height of the habitable terraces creates a distinctive silhouette for the city skyline. Images: Grimshaw

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