New Star Sydney Tower Violates City Planning Laws

Crown Sydney Harbour - Star Sydney Tower Architect Philip Thalis compared the towers to a “megalomaniac’s sundial”.

The new Star Sydney tower offends city officials, because its height is well above the city’s standards. The dispute is similar to the one Sydney residents had with Crown Resorts in 2016. Sydney officials believe the Star Sydney tower violate the city’s planning laws.

Meanwhile, the companies argue they need the towers to lure the right kind of customers. Crown Resorts won the right to build a tower above the city’s standards in August 2016. To win approval, the company even promised the Crown Sydney would not have pokies.

Star Entertainment Group recently received permission to build a 237-metre hotel tower on the other end of the harbour.

Star Syndey’s new tower will be 200 metres higher than Syndey’s ordinances say are legal. The city government instituted the limitations because residents complain such towers block their view of the harbor from their homes.

Cr Philip Thalis, an architect who serves on Clover Moore’s Independent Team, told The Sydney Morning Herald they are “twin totems of greed”. Residents criticized Crown Sydney’s design plans, but they are just as disgusted with the Star Sydney tower.

Lord Mayor Claims Loopholes Were Used

Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, said the casino companies used loopholes to build skyscrapers much taller than they promised. Moore said Crown submitted a development plan for a 10-story tower, but vastly exceeded that amount by using legal tactics.

She added that the towers would have a negative impact on local residents in a number of ways. Philip Thalis said the twin towers are like “some megalomaniac’s sundial, progressively casting its shadows across Pyrmont and the waterfront.”

Clover Moore’s architectural consultant full quote stated, “These twin totems of greed, with their overblown towers, now dominate this part of the harbour.”

Star Entertainment Hotel Expansion

For its part, Star Entertainment Group said it is following current building standards with the Star Sydney tower. Also, Star Entertainment said it has the approval of the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment.

The current dispute goes back to a decision by the NSW Land & Environment Court in the summer of 2016. The court decision stemmed from a lawsuit against Crown Resorts filed by the Millers Point Fund.

Crown Sydney Development Plan

Crown Resorts won a license to build the Crown Sydney in November 2013. Consequently, Crown chose to build the resort in the Barangaroo section of Sydney Harbour.

As part of its agreement with the city, the $2 billion Crown Sydney plans to cater to high rollers. To do so, it must have world class accommodations and amenities. Part of the attractions must be the the hotel, which includes branded residences.

Crown Resorts sought approval for the tower several times, but failed each time to gain permission. In June 2016, the company received long-sought permission to build, so construction has begun on the 350-room hotel tower.

Millers Point Fund Lawsuit

At that point, the Millers Point Fund sued Crown Resorts to stop the project. A spokesman for Crown Resorts said the company would “vigorously defend” its rights in court.

That proved true, because Crown won a decision to proceed in the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales. After winning a decision in August 2016, the company began construction of the Barangaroo resort in earnest.

Crown Syndey for Asian High Rollers?

Originally, Crown Sydney claimed it would serve Asian high rollers. At the time, Asian high rollers were the rage in global gambing (in many ways, they still are). It was before the 2014 slowdown of Macua casino gaming due to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crackdown.

Macau remains the casino city with the highest revenues (by far), but VIP high rollers have stopped spending as much in Australia. As many Asian high rollers visit Australian casinos they once did. A 2017 study showed that Chinese high rollers spend less when they visit Australia, though.

That could be a major problem for Crown Sydney.

Crown Sydney Pokies

Even before the 2017 became known, professors who research the gaming industry claimed Crown Sydney’s pokies ban will be temporary. They predicted a pattern would play out with Crown Sydney, as it has with other resorts.

First, Crown would report lower-than-expected revenues. Next, Crown would submit to the New South Wales government for the inclusion of pokies — and later for even more pokies. To increase tax revenues and support a local job-creating business, NSW would comply.

Therefore, the current battle between the Sydney government and Crown Resorts/Star Entertainment over the hotel towers is but the first of several public relations and political battles.