The Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Residential Tower project planned by the Star Casino in Pyrmont has been rejected by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for being “overly obtrusive” on the Sydney skyline.

Plans for the new project were rejected by the IPC over concerns that the structure had “unacceptable visual impacts” and “visual dominance” on the existing Pyrmont character.

The proposed Pyrmont hotel and residential tower is a 66-storey building on the Sydney waterfront that will house a 220-room 6-star hotel, 204 luxury apartments and a basement carpark. Star Casino had intended to partially demolish the existing complex to construct the tall tower. Standing at a height of 237 metres, the new building would be three times as tall as the current structure and eight times the height allowed by planning controls.

The Star Entertainment Group had lodged their ambitious plans with NSW’s Department of Planning, Industry and Environment in 2018.

According to the statement released by the IPC, the planning department’s assessment concluded that approval for the hotel tower project should be refused because it is “inconsistent with current strategic planning for the site and locality and fails to promote the orderly use and development of land”. Additionally, the new tower form would be “inconsistent with its immediate context” and “result in unacceptable visual impacts due to its scale, isolation and visual dominance of the existing Pyrmont character and fails to promote good design and amenity of the built environment”.

Following objections from the City of Sydney Council and more than 25 submissions against the plan by the community, the modification application was referred to the IPC for determination.

Commissioners Dianne Leeson (chair), Stephen O’Connor and Adrian Pilton met with the Applicant, Department and Council to discuss the application while a public meeting was also organised to hear the community’s views. Objections were mostly about “the bulk and scale of the proposed development, its incompatibility with the existing surrounding low-scale development, unacceptable visual impacts, view loss, overshadowing, lack of infrastructure to support the development, increased traffic and anti-social behaviour”.

The IPC also heard the views of supporters of the proposed development who cited the building’s “high-quality design and positive economic impacts, including job creation and its contribution to the tourism industry” as reasons for its approval. 

The IPC agreed with the planning department’s assessment that “on balance the public benefits do not outweigh the impacts associated with the Application”.

The IPC also concluded that the Application “will result in unacceptable built 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 decision has drawn criticism mainly from the travel and tourism industry with leading voices expressing concern over the shortage of luxury hotels, which are needed to attract luxury travellers and maintain Sydney’s status as a global city.

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