$1b Cockle Bay tower gets the green light

$1b Cockle Bay tower gets the green light

17 May 2019

Sydney’s Darling Harbour is closer to having a new skyscraper after an independent planning panel approved a fourth $1 billion-plus tower for the Cockle Bay precinct, The Australian reports.

The high-profile project received the green light after development partners GPT, Brookfield, and AMP Capital submitted a reworked design proposed high-rise office tower, slashing its height from 235 metres to 183 metres and locating it further away from Pyrmont Bridge.

Plans to overhaul the prominent site triggered another dispute between Clover Moore’s council and Gladys Berejiklian’s government over development controls in inner city Sydney, the SMH said.

Shadow studies had suggested the new tower could increase the shadowing on a future Town Hall Square for up to 15 minutes in the late afternoon in autumn and spring.

However, in approving plans for the site on Monday, NSW’s Independent Planning Commission said that any extra overshadowing of the planned square opposite Town Hall would not occur before 4pm and would be outside hours of “peak utilisation”, such as lunch-time.

“The applicant has reduced the building height and reconfigured the building envelope to reduce any overshadowing impacts on the proposed Town Hall Square,” the panel said.

The next stage of the development approval process will involve an international design competition.

The NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes, said the approved design “will deliver more than an acre of new public open space that will better connect the city to its harbour.”

The $649-million revitalisation project, which includes new shops, bars and restaurants, along with a commercial office tower up to a maximum height of 183m, will now go ahead.

The scheme will include about 60,000 square metres and up to 40 levels of office space, and a world-class dining, retail and entertainment precinct comprising up to 10,000 square metres.

The premium commercial tower will target a 6 Green Star rating and 5 Star NABERS energy rating.

The tower will be the fourth $1 billion-plus tower for the Cockle Bay precinct despite objections from the City of Sydney council and members of the public who voiced their concerns about visual amenity and overshadowing impacts, particularly on the nearby Astoria Tower and Millennium Tower, as well as private view loss.

Development consortium spokesman Matthew Faddy told the AFR the investor group was delighted to move to the next step of the planning process.

“We welcome an opportunity to progress different ideas and to hear further from the community as we consider the designs that are possible for this site,” he said.

“Cockle Bay Park presents a unique opportunity to cover the Western Distributor and remove the barrier that divides the city from Darling Harbour.”