The hasty review of Pyrmont planning controls called by Gladys Berejiklian last month has now been completed. The NSW Premier ordered the Greater Sydney Commission to re-assess planning controls after the highly controversial Ritz-Carlton tower had its Building Approval rejected.
In its assessment report, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment outlined several reasons for dismissing the proposal for a 66-storey tower. It said, among other things, the tower did not align with any current government planning policy, was not subject to community consultation, and that the proposal cited future similar tall buildings and a metro rail station – which had not been confirmed – as part of its justification. It noted the tower’s adverse, visual and physical impact on the precinct, including partial shadowing of Union Square, Pyrmont Bay Park and Pyrmont Bridge and other key spaces.
In addition, the report recognises the established character and historical significance of Pyrmont, and sees the tower as not only an intrusion, but a potential catalyst for further change.

“The Department considers the approval of the tower would establish a precedent for future tall buildings in its immediate vicinity, as a defining component of an entirely new Pyrmont character and built form context. This new character could and most likely would, be used to justify additional tall buildings, further eroding the established and desired character of Pyrmont, unsupported by any adopted strategic policy direction.”

The report did also acknowledge social and economic benefits such as creation of short and long term employment opportunities, possible boost to local economy, and inclusion of a neighbourhood centre. However:

“The Department does not consider the identified public benefits to be sufficient to offset the impacts that would be caused by the proposed tower and therefore, the proposal is not in the public interest.”

The report on revised planning controls requested by Premier Berejiklian is a trial of nomenclature that is not easy to decipher. The area in its scope is the Western Harbour Precinct which includes Pyrmont Peninsula. It’s all part of a big picture concept called The Greater Sydney Region Plan which describes the creation of three distinct cities under the title: A Metropolis Of Three Cities. Pyrmont and Ultimo are located within Eastern Harbour City. However, there is also a micro level plan called the Eastern City District Plan that involves cooperation among a number of local councils (including City Of Sydney and Inner West) in designing local strategies to facilitate the larger, regional plan.
(And no, this is not a script for the ABC comedy, Utopia!)
The plans constantly reference an “Innovation Corridor” which is a pathway of high tech organisations and educational institutions running from the Bays Precinct through the Inner West, Pyrmont, Ultimo, Central and through to the Eastern Suburbs taking in various universities, research centres, technological facilities and similar.
Basically, all of the above is an argument for enhanced development of buildings and infrastructure in the Western Harbour Precinct.
With real estate opportunities being maxed out in the CBD and Darling Harbour, Pyrmont Ultimo is seen as fertile ground – and air – for new construction.
It’s hard to identify specifics in the Greater Sydney Region Report’s recommendations, but the gist is that Pyrmont Ultimo is open for (building) business and there may be a Metro Station somewhere along the line. Pun intended.

If you’re getting a sense of deja vu, this video might explain why.

Concrete City (1994 by Fabio Cavadini and Mandy King) – Concrete City

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