IPC nixes Ritz-Carlton Sydney hotel project

The Star's six-star luxury tower knocked back by planning committe

Concept image of the original Ritz-Carlton Hotel Sydney

Star Entertainment Group‘s hopes of winning approval for the $529 Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel and residential tower in Pyrmont, Sydney have been scuttled by the NSW Independent Planning Commission. Today [Wednesday 20 November, 2019], the IPC sided with the state Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s decision to reject the 237-metre-tall structure after months of debate.

In July, the Department highlighted its concerns around the proposed six-star ultra luxury hotel, saying it was “inconsistent with current strategic planning” for the site on the western side of Darling Harbour.

Since then a public meeting was held and written statements were fielded, providing a platform for discussion on the pros and cons of the potential Ritz-Carlton Sydney by all parties and residents. The Star brought out its big guns, with Marriott International’s Vice President of Marketing for Asia Pacific, Bruce Ryde, saying the Ritz-Carlton brand “will deliver Sydney’s finest aspirational luxury experience”.

After considering all the evidence and weighing the community’s views, the Commission has today determined that “on balance the public benefits do not outweigh the impacts associated with the Application”.

The Commissioners highlighted a range of reasons for their decision that supported the Department’s earlier recommendation, including that its built form would be unacceptable and cause view loss and visual impacts. Among the other reasons highlighted for the IPC’s decision were:

  • lacking strategic justification
  • inconsistent with the Sydney Regional Environment Plan
  • inconsistent with design principles…relating to context, built form and scale, and density
An original concept image of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Sydney released in 2018

“The Commission also found the Application is inconsistent with the outcomes of the Greater Sydney Commission’s (GSC) Western Harbour Precinct including the Pyrmont Peninsula Planning Framework Review, which has recommended a holistic place-based masterplan to be prepared promoting a place-based approach over a project-based approach to planning in Pyrmont,” the IPC said in a statement.

To rub salt into the wounds for The Star, today’s decision comes inside a week from the opening of The Ritz-Carlton Perth last Friday.

Star Entertainment Group said it was caught off-guard by today’s IPC rejection, with a spokesperson telling LATTE they had “no prior notification of the decision” and that it was “still digesting the full findings” before announcing its next steps.

“We want to spend more than $500 million on helping NSW drive tourism. This development would create around 1000 jobs, provide opportunities for suppliers and deliver significant other economic benefits.”

“We just hope this does not prove to be a lost opportunity for Sydney,” the Star spokesperson added.

Sean Hunt, Marriott International’s Area Vice President – Australia, New Zealand and Pacific was nonchalant on the decision when quizzed by LATTE just hours after the ruling.

“Marriott now controls two-thirds of the luxury pipeline of hotels scheduled to open in Australia, with more in the pipeline,” Hunt said.

All images supplied.

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