A controversial skyscraper development in Sydney’s Cockle Bay has been approved, despite concerns about overshadowing.

After four rounds of design changes, the NSW Independent Planning Commission has announced its approval of the $649 million redevelopment of Cockle Bay Wharf, which will include new shops, restaurants and a 183-metre commercial office tower.

While the latest rendition of the proposal has seen the skyscraper’s size reduced, City of Sydney is still concerned about the tower overshadowing its planned Town Hall Square (THS) development.

Town Hall Square
An artist's impression of the future Town Hall Square. Image credit: Tony Caro Architecture

According to City of Sydney, the Cockle Bay tower will block approximately 6.8 hours of sunlight per year and cause wind impacts at THS. The commission has countered this, stating that any overshadowing would occur outside of peak periods such as lunchtime, and that the impact would be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes on two days of the year at 4pm and 4.30pm.

City of Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore has lamented the decision, referring to it as a “shocking precedent”.

Meanwhile, the developers and architects behind the project have argued that the benefits outweigh the negative impacts.

Aside from the addition of new retail and hospitality spaces, the development will also provide publicly accessible open space of between 5,500 and 12,000sqm.

“This, really, will be a park for the people of Sydney,” says Sacha Coles, director of Aspect Studios.

“It will be a place of event. It’ll be a place that’ll be curated … It’s open 24/7.”