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15 Jul 2021

Planning Umpire Approves Contentious Harbourside Shopping Centre Redevelopment

Planning Umpire Approves Contentious Harbourside Shopping Centre Redevelopment

The City of Sydney has authorized a $708 million plan to demolish and redevelop Sydney's Harbourside Shopping Centre, which the city has criticized as a "effective privatization of public space."

The project was approved by the Department of Planning, Industry, and Environment in March, but it had to be adjudicated by the Independent Planning Commission due to the more than 50 unique objections it received.

On June 25, Commissioners Dianne Leeson and Wendy Lewin announced the commission's approval of the project, emphasizing that the permission was subject to conditions that would mitigate critical consequences and assure design quality.

The panel, according to Leeson and Lewin, recognized that the development would provide "substantial socio-economic benefits," but that there were a number of difficulties that needed to be addressed. According to Leeson and Lewin, the panel recognized that the development would give "significant socioeconomic benefits," but that there were a lot of challenges to overcome.

They also pointed out that the northern podium could detract from the Pyrmont Bridge's state-significant heritage assets, and that the supply of 3,500 square meters of public open space on numerous levels above the podium would limit accessibility and use.

According to Leeson and Lewin's report, "in response to concerns raised by council and the community, the commission has imposed a suite of empirical and performance-based conditions, ensuring that the outcome sought is clear, and emphasizing that detailed design solutions would be required as part of the design excellence competition."

The commission imposed a number of “absolute limits” on the project, including a minimum setback from Pyrmont Bridge and a maximum finished deck level height for the public open area above the northern podium.

The requirements should, however, “allow the applicant considerable leeway to develop design solutions to avoid, mitigate, and limit identified consequences without jeopardizing the project's benefits.”

Before any construction can commence, a design excellence competition will be necessary for the final design.