Hotels

Star Casino to push on with $530 million hotel plan despite being rejected

Star Casino will reportedly push on with plans to build a multi-million dollar tower on the Sydney waterfront, despite having been rejected by the NSW Planning Department.

After having had plans for its 220-room Ritz-Carlton hotel (pictured above) – a $530 million build – rejected by the NSW Planning Department and put on hold indefinitely, Star Casino has said it will continue to seek approval.

“We’re extremely disappointed with the recommendation,” a spokesperson from The Star Entertainment Group told Travel Weekly.

“Sydney needs hotels. Sydney needs new and refreshed tourism infrastructure or risk losing international visitors to other states, other countries.

“We want to spend half a billion dollars on helping NSW increase its appeal to the inbound visitor market.

“The Star will always continue to support tourism. For now, we will take some time to try and grasp the Department’s position, review the report, and consider the avenues and other opportunities available to us.”

This comes in lieu of a Crown tower build set to open in 2021, which Star Casino reportedly aimed to compete with in luring tourists away from the controversial casino and hotel.

Crown Resorts is currently involved in a legal dispute with the NSW Government over concerns a public development could block waterfront views at Crown’s Barangaroo skyscraper, as reported by ABC News.

Crown Resorts’ proposed build at Barangaroo (far left)

It is understood that The Star hopes the development will get over the line, despite the independent NSW Planning panel – which has the final decision – usually taking department advice.

The NSW Planning Department cited Star’s proposed build as potentially having adverse impacts on views from properties.

In total the Department received 83 objections from the public, which The Star Entertainment Group described as “well below other major projects”.

“Around 5000 people came through our display centre during the public exhibition period late last year. That was on top of two previous community consultation programs,” the spokesperson said.

“Our development involves no additional gaming facilities.

“It does include a multi-level community centre for the people of Pyrmont, a six-star hotel brand that resonates globally and extensive F&B offerings that will deliver Sydney a unique dining precinct for locals and tourists.”

The decision has reportedly divided the Sydney planning sector.

ABC News reported that Planning Minister Rob Stokes backed his department’s recommendation, while Treasurer Dominic Perrotet told the news agency he did not understand why there was not better coordination between the department and the developer.

“You would think common sense would prevail and you’d get a development that works and at the same time delivers a world class hotel that backs in tourism opportunities for our city and state,” Perrotet said.

Margy Osmond, chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum, told ABC News the decision sent a “most unfortunate” message.

“At a time when we need more and more A-grade accommodation … we’re getting a reputation for being an incredibly difficult place to develop anything,” Osmond said.

But critics have said the building is out of place in the area, with some labelling it an “eyesore”.

Independent City of Sydney councillor Philip Thalis compared Star Casino’s proposed build as “a rocket” and described the hotel developer’s suggestion the build fit-in with the surrounding area as “laughable”.

“It’s completely inappropriate, the City [of Sydney Council has] said as much, and if you want proof or how destructive these sorts of buildings are you just have to look straight across the water at Crown,” he said.

In submissions to the Planning Department, a number of local residents were supportive of the proposal, predicting it would help raise property prices in the area. Others labelled it an “eyesore” and an example of “extreme over-development”.

ABC News understands the Independent Planning Commission will reconvene to review the decision late next month.

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