Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore is “seriously concerned” planning rules are being bent to accommodate two large towers at Martin Place.
The New South Wales Government has amended Sydney’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP), angering Cr Moore who says that decision is at odds with two reports.
Macquarie Bank submitted an “unsolicited proposal” last year to redevelop their heritage-listed headquarters at Martin Place.
The blueprint includes two new office towers, as well as the new Sydney Metro station, shops and an underground walkway.
The Independent Planning Commission and Department of Planning and Environment have both warned in reports that one of the towers — to be built at the south end of Martin Place — should be further away from the busy public square.
Cr Moore said the Government had ignored a long-standing policy that prevented tall developments from encroaching within 25 metres from the hub.
The Heritage Council the Department of Planning and the City of Sydney developed planning controls 25 years ago that require towers more than 55 metres high to be set back from the public domain.
“These controls have been in place for 25 years and other developers, whether is the Westin Hotel, the MLC Centre, and even the State Government’s own headquarters have all been examples of respecting that control,” Cr Moore said.
“This was to reduce their presence on the place and also enable adequate sunshine and reduce wind impacts for pedestrians.”
NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said several stakeholders had been consulted before amending the LEP.
“Detailed design of the building facade will also ensure the development is consistent with historic buildings in the Martin Place precinct,” he said.
“The Government Architect will contribute to the final detailed design.”
He said final designs for the project had not been approved, and would be subject to significant scrutiny.
Cr Moore described Martin Place as Sydney’s “most important civic space”.
“It’s where people gather, it’s where we have important cultural events, its where we have important events like the Anzac Day ceremonies,” she said.
“We are calling on the Government to put the public interests first to protect Martin Place into the future just as we have been able to protect it over the last 25 years.”
A Macquarie spokesperson said its proposal had received further planning approval.
“Macquarie has sought the relevant planning permissions in parallel with the Unsolicited Proposal application so that, should the NSW Government approve the proposal, Macquarie can commence works promptly to support delivery of the Metro Martin Place station by 2024.”