‘A sad day for Australian tourism’ as Ritz Carlton hotel at Pyrmont rejected

The Star’s gamble on a $530 million Ritz Carlton hotel, luxury casino and apartment tower in Pyrmont has not paid off, with the controversial plans rejected by the state’s planning commission.

The Independent Planning Commission (IPC) has ruled against the 237-metre tower saying it was “inconsistent with current strategic planning for the site and locality and fails to promote the orderly use and development of land”.

The latest ruling aligns with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s negative assessment of the plan, which found the tower would be “inconsistent with its immediate context” and “result in unacceptable visual impacts due to its scale, isolation and visual dominance of the existing Pyrmont character and fails to promote good design and amenity of the built environment”.

Some residents, architects and the City of Sydney argued the project was out of character with the neighbourhood, with two terraced homes complaining their views would be severely compromised by the tower.

But tourism and business groups have expressed their disbelief at the decision, saying that it is holding Sydney back.

Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson described the IPC’s decision as “a lost opportunity”.

Tourism & Transport chief executive Margy Osmond said it was “a sad day for Australian tourism”.

“The city is crying for out for more hotel accommodation and we can’t get enough luxury beds built,” she said.

“Today’s decision by the independent Planning Commission sends a message to local and international investors that Sydney, the Gateway to Australia is closed for business.”

Urban Taskforce chief executive Tom Forrest said the future of Sydney “is being held to ransom” and the IPC has “folded to a handful of local activists”.

Even Premier Gladys Berejiklian threw her support behind the project, describing Pyrmont as “the new gateway” to Sydney’s CBD and ordering the Greater Sydney Commission to complete a snap review of Pyrmont’s planning controls to make sure they were “consistent with the government’s vision for its future”.

“We anticipated this outcome and it hardens our resolve to find a positive path forward,” she said.

“Pyrmont and the Western Harbour is a key part of the future of Global Sydney and we should be attracting world class projects to it.”

A spokesman for The Star said they “don’t want this to be a lost opportunity for Sydney” calling instead for “some clarity on that future vision”.

“We want to help NSW drive tourism and we have heard the Government confirm again that Pyrmont is open for business,” the spokesman said.

Committee for Sydney chief executive Gabriel Metcalf said the battle “probably isn’t over yet”.

“Sydney needs more hotel rooms, and Pyrmont is a logical place for density,” he said. “I would expect that once the Government responds to the GSC review and updates the planning controls this gets revisited.”