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The Star, UTS building heights could increase according to new government plans

The Star seeks the development of a six-star hotel on the Northern side of its existing site and an increase of building height from the current maximum of 28m to an increase of 105m. Photo: Creative Commons

By EVA BAXTER

Plans released for public exhibition last month propose amendments to planning controls to increase building heights on key sites in the Pyrmont Peninsula including The Star, UTS and the two sites of the future Sydney Metro station.

The Friends of Ultimo (FoU), a community group founded ten years ago aiming to address local Ultimo issues, told City Hub local communities will be concerned that the plans also identify numerous other sites as ‘capable of change.’

The sites ‘capable of change’ were identified based on criteria that demonstrate they have the potential to be developed or redeveloped to meet residential and commercial floorspace forecasts over the next 20 years.

FoU note that the Ultimo Community Centre and the Powerhouse Museum are among those listed as ‘capable of change,’ “despite recent reassurances from the Lord Mayor that all previous services at UCC will be restored in the New Year,” and similar guarantees from the Department of Planning Industry and Environment (DPIE) about the Powerhouse.

The ‘Pyrmont Peninsula Sub-Precinct Master Plans’ were released for public exhibition at the end of last month, building on the priorities set out in the ‘Pyrmont Peninsula Place Strategy (PPPS)’ released earlier this year, to “take advantage” of the Pyrmont Peninsula’s urban character and its “important role in the continued growth and economic success of Greater Sydney and the NSW economy over the next 20 years.”

Pushed Peninsula

The Peninsula is Sydney’s fifth largest business district with around 40,000 workers, part of the innovation corridor and one of the fastest growing jobs hubs in Greater Sydney.

The Peninsula is home to a residential population of around 20,000 people that live and work in and around the area.

NSW Treasury prepared an Economic Development Strategy (EDS) which forecasts that an additional 600,000 – 800,000 square metres of floor space will be required across the Peninsula by 2041 due to increased retail and residential development density associated with the new metro station, as well as more commuters coming in and out of the area.

The EDS forecast an industry mix geared towards knowledge industries, with an increase in productivity by 7% due to a growth of jobs in knowledge intensive industries and growth in many of the industries for which the Peninsula is recognised, tourism, entertainment, media, and IT.

The FoU found a number of positive points in the PPPS on its release including its vision for a world-class foreshore walk, venues for 24-hour entertainment, the metro station, more green public spaces, better public transport and pedestrian links, respect for heritage, public consultation and future planning controls to revert to the City.

Then, plans for the proposed Blackwattle Bay Sub-Precinct were released in July outlining developments of apartments and office towers as tall as 45m, higher than the pylons of the adjacent Anzac Bridge.

The Blackwattle Bay plans attracted community backlash and over 1000 submissions.

FoU objected based on its contradictions to the PPPS, specifically the excessive building heights, lack of public housing and minimal affordable housing contributions, lack of proposed public amenities and inadequate foreshore promenade and green spaces.

Patricia, a spokesperson for FoU told City Hub, “this has been a happy residential area for many years, not too crowded, it’s got reasonable local spaces. It’s not too high rise. The government idea seems to be to simply transform it into an extremely dense, high rise residential quarter, and this is not what residents want.”

Site specific

The new plans propose that the Sydney Local Environment Plan (LEP 2012) be amended to include site-specific clauses for the key sites The Star, UTS, Metro site east and Metro site west.

The Star is seeking the development of a six-star hotel on the Northern side of its existing site, ‘the North Tower,’ proposed at a maximum height of 105m, and a ‘Union Street Tower’ with a maximum height of 120m at the site of the future Sydney Metro station for commercial, hotel and residential uses.

Amendments to the LEP would allow the increase of maximum height of any building on The Star’s existing site to 105m, an increase from their current maximum of 28m.

Building height on the future Pyrmont Metro east and west sites would be increased under the amendments from 30m to 110m.

UTS seeks to develop an Indigenous Residential college building of 62.9m. Current building height is limited to 42m.

FoU said they have no objection to the proposal from UTS.

The planning controls for other sites ‘capable of change’ including Ultimo Community Centre, the Powerhouse and more will be given to City of Sydney Council, to “review outdated planning instruments applying to the area, ensuring these integrate with PPPS objectives for possible integration into Council’s current development framework.”

According to Patricia, “that appears to mean to us that the City of Sydney would have complete control over whether these changes took place or not. We are hoping that residents in their submissions will mention this and direct their arguments to the City of Sydney.”

The Pyrmont Peninsula Sub-Precinct Master Plans are on exhibition for public comment until 4 February 2022 and information sessions will be running online and at the Pyrmont Community Centre at select times in December and January.

“I think the essential thing for us is to encourage as many local people as possible to, as the City always says, have their say, that is, to make a submission and to express their exact thoughts on these plans, and what they should say is essentially up to them,” Patricia said

“The essential thing is that we get as many submissions as possible to the government about these plans, hopefully they will say they’re not satisfactory.”

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