Crown and Lendlease go to court over Sydney Harbour views

Crown and Lendlease go to court over Sydney Harbour views

17 August 2018

James Packer’s Crown Resorts has filed a lawsuit to stop the NSW government from approving developments that obstruct views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge from its new 71-storey luxury hotel and casino complex in Barangaroo, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

The casino operator has filed a lawsuit against the Barangaroo Delivery Authority (BDA) seeking an order that it comply with a contract that requires consultation on any development that could affect views from Crown’s $2 billion development.

The contract obligations call for negotiations to “ensure that sight lines from the Harbour Bridge to the Sydney Opera House are retained for the Crown Sydney Hotel Resort”, Crown said in a statement as it released its full-year results on Thursday.

The dispute arose after the then Baird government increased the size of Barangaroo central – nearly trebling the amount of floor space – to offset the addition of a Metro train station to the area.

Crown Resorts executive chairman John Alexander said the government’s Central Barangaroo development — a five-hectare site with a mixed commercial and residential building and a Sydney Metro station — was intended to be “low density, low rise”, but Crown now feared the development would be taller than first agreed.

The Central Barangaroo development has been described as “the final piece of the Barangaroo puzzle”, notes the AFR.

The 5.2-hectare site will include three hectares of public space, a Sydney Metro station, and will “combine community, civic and cultural spaces and attractions with residential, retail and commercial uses”.

Chief executive of developer lobby group Urban Taskforce Chris Johnson urged the NSW government to provide leadership to ensure the parties can agree on a way forward.

“Clearly the announcement of a new metro station on the site has changed the planning rules to the disadvantage of Lendlease and Crown Resorts as the Barangaroo Delivery Authority has sought more height and floor space,” Johnson said.

“There must be a way to balance the impact on existing planning approved envelopes with achieving appropriate development on the central section but this will need high level government intervention.”

Developer Lendlease, which is building high-rise apartments in the same area as Crown, has also launched legal action seeking an injunction to stop the BDA releasing a revised plan for the site.

Lendlease said legal proceedings were “never our preferred course of action and we remain hopeful of reaching an agreement with the Barangaroo Delivery Authority”.

“However, we need to act in the best interests of our customers, our investors and our people,” a spokesman said, “and in this case, that required us to seek an injunction”.

Lendlease is also building Crown’s Sydney casino.

The Barangaroo Delivery Authority said it was prepared to “defend its position in court”.

“(We have) been negotiating with Crown and Lendlease about their sightlines over Central Barangaroo for 28 months,” a spokesperson said.

“At all times the authority has acted in good faith and in accordance with its contractual obligations.”

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she had full confidence in the authority to “negotiate on behalf of the NSW Government and protect the public interest”.

The lawsuits, which come after more than two years of negotiations with authorities, will be an unwelcome distraction for the Berejiklian government in the lead-up to the March 2019 state election.

Crown’s $2.2 billion, six-star hotel, residential and casino complex project is under construction in Barangaroo and due for completion in 2021.