Sydney has plans for 300-metre skyscrapers

The city skyline, featuring (l-r) Sydney tower (309m), Chifley Square (244m), Aurora Place (188m) and Governor Phillip Tower (254m). Source: supplied

City of Sydney council has paved the way for skyscrapers as tall as the Gold Coast’s Q1 tower under a new plan released today.

The draft Central Sydney Planning Strategy includes plans for “tower cluster” areas with the potential for 300-metres high commercial buildings that would require federal airport approval because of their height.

The city’s tallest building is Westfield’s Sydney tower at 309 metres. The tallest existing office block is Governor Phillip Tower at 254 metres.

But the focus of the draft plan is commercial, rather than residential property, with lord mayor Clover Moore saying it could deliver an additional 2.9 million square metres of floor space for retail, hotel, and office developments.

Critically, the council wants to ensure any future development preserves sunlight in key public areas such as Hyde Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Martin Place and Wynyard Park.

The shadows cast by skyscrapers in Melbourne has been a key sticking point for proposed developments there.

Moore said the strategy was designed for the next two decades and took into account the limited capacity for growth in the north, west and east due to factors such as the harbour surrounds, heritage and residential development.

“Past planning strategies have successfully increased the number of residential buildings in the city centre, but now we need to protect and increase the amount of productive floor space to maintain Sydney’s economic vitality and resilience,” she said.

The new Central Sydney Planning Strategy includes 10 key moves and nine aims for business and residential development.

The 10 key moves are:

  • The expansion of Central Sydney to reabsorb The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Ultimo (The Goods Line, Central Park and UTS) and Central Railway to Cleveland Street. Having a single consent authority and framework will make planning more consistent and reduce red tape and hurdles;
  • The prioritisation of business floor space employment by expanding the city’s commercial core west to Barangaroo and south to Belmore Park;
  • The management of small sites to consider wind, sunlight, public views and setbacks. The City wants to encourage owners of city buildings to talk to their neighbours about their combined development potential – done well, sites that are amalgamated can reach better development outcomes while preserving heritage character;
  • Progressing plans for three new squares along George Street – at Circular Quay, Town Hall and Railway Square – to provide precincts that improve the liveability of the city centre;
  • The strengthening of public open space, accessibility and connections to make moving around the city easier and more enjoyable for workers, residents and visitors;
  • The promotion of design excellence by requiring all towers and major developments to go through a design competition process;
  • Ensuring transport and social infrastructure keeps pace with growth, and that Sydney is inclusive of all members of society by the introduction of an affordable housing levy;
  • A move toward zero net energy for all buildings through sustainability incentives for floor space ratio bonuses and minimum NABERs (measures of energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and indoor environment quality) standards for new office buildings.

Central Sydney generates $108 billion of economic activity annually – nearly 8% of the national economy – and is home to 25,000 residents, plus nearly to 300,000 workers.

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