A 35-storey hotel in Sydney’s Darling Harbour designed by Richard Francis-Jones of Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT) and Lend Lease has been approved by the New South Wales Government despite major opposition against the project.

Part of the Government’s $2.5 billion transformation of the precinct, the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney Hotel has faced much criticism in the past by the public, most prominently by neighbours, including Novotel Hotel Darling Harbour, which said their views would be blocked by the new building.

The City of Sydney had also described the design as “simplistic and brutal”.

However, the key component of the 20-hectare redevelopment is set to go ahead after Lend Lease released a “more elegant and slimmer hotel design” in August 2013, saying that the updated design will “improve view sharing with surrounding buildings” and provide “more space and flexibility at the ground level”.

NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner says the hotel will now be a spectacular addition to the new ICC precinct, transforming the area to become more vibrant and cosmopolitan while complementing the events taking place at the new convention, exhibition and entertainment facilities next door.

Minister for Planning Pru Goward further added that the hotel would be a drawcard for interstate and international visitors.

The new ICC hotel will feature 616 luxury rooms – pared back from the original proposal of 900 rooms, an ancillary bar and restaurant, as well as a club lounge with a sculpted roof feature. Construction is expected to begin by the end of the year, and will create 350 construction jobs.

This approval is the third in the revitalisation project, with the Darling Harbour Convention Centre and the first stage of the new urban neighbourhood Darling Square already given the go-ahead.