The Barangaroo Delivery Authority has triggered controversy with its latest master plan for the $6 billion development of a major swathe of Sydney's inner city.
The master plan for what many regard as the most promising urban development sites in the world encompasses a hotel casino, an urban theatre, commercial property as well as a waterfront park.
The plan focuses primarily on Barangaroo Central – the designated civic and cultural zone of the development, while also outlining alterations to previous proposals for adjoining Barangaroo South, which is slated to serve as the project’s commercial district.
A key amendment under the new master plan is the relocation of James Packer’s Crown Resorts’ casino hotel to the northern extremity of Barangaroo South, instead of situating it on a pier a
s was originally proposed. In 2011 the pier-based plan was scuppered when the NSW government ruled that the casino hotel would have to be built on land.
Under the new master plan the hotel and casino tower will be situated within 30 metres of the waterfront, on an area which had previously been designated as public parkland.
In exchange for the relocation of the hotel, Lend Lease has proposed that the harbourside park be relocated further inland on Hickson Road, just to the rear of the casino, and that two 50-storey high rise residential apartments be built further south adjacent to International Towers Sydney, a commercial high-rise development.
The amendment has triggered strong criticism from a number of key figures involved with the development.
Philip Thalis, founding principal of Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects, which won the 2006 design competition for the development, says the changes are inimical to the concept underlying his firm’s original vision.
“I think it’s clear that what has been lost…is the notion that the entire foreshore was protected and would be inalienable public land,” Thalis said to Fairfax.
John Mant, previously a planner and councillor with the City of Sydney, was highly critical of James Packer’s influence on the development process.
“I don’t think the state government is prepared to say no to Packer,” said Mant. “We don’t even know what Packer paid for this slice of waterfront land.”
Other key changes under the new plan from the Delivery Authority includes the Sydney Steps, which will connect the area to the Rocks, and link Observatory Hill to Barangaroo Central, with a 5000-seat urban theatre situated below the steps by the waterside.
According to Lend Lease the quota of public space at Barangaroo South, pegged at 52 per cent, remains the same under the new plan.
The master plan will be placed on public display prior to the authority submitting an application for modifications, which it expects to lodge before Christmas.