An artist’s impression of the Darling Harbour revamp.THE owner of Australia’s largest hotel has proposed a radical expansion over the Western Distributor that would rival major redevelopments at Darling Harbour and Barangaroo.
The upmarket Four Points by Sheraton hotel on Sussex Street in central Sydney wants approval for a 25-storey tower holding 231 new rooms and office space, and a podium hosting functions and conferences. The $149 million expansion, with views over Darling Harbour, would be built over the freeway.
Architect Philip Cox, whose firm is behind the design, said its location and design elements trumped the “appalling” proposed revamp of Darling Harbour, which involves the demolition of the exhibition centre he designed.
It would meet a high demand for inner-city hotel rooms, convention facilities and office space, and “complement” a $1 billion overhaul of exhibition and convention facilities at Darling Harbour, the proposal stated.
It comes amid a flurry of activity in Sydney’s hotel scene, including James Packer’s plan for a luxury hotel and casino at Barangaroo, and upgrades at the Park Hyatt at the Rocks and the Darling at the Star casino. Lend Lease’s 900-room hotel at Darling Harbour is also in the works.
Four Points by Sheraton is owned by Singapore-based EP2 Management. At 672 rooms, it is reputedly Australia’s largest hotel. The proposed expansion would bring it to more than 900 rooms.
With a podium for conventions, exhibitions and functions, the project “will assist NSW in winning large group, corporate meeting, association and convention bids”, the proposal said.
Mr Cox, who staunchly opposes the exhibition centre’s demolition, said the plan had an “incredible advantage” over other proposed hotels.
“It’s fantastically situated … on the CBD side of Pyrmont Bridge. It’s got a better relationship with the city itself,” Mr Cox said.
He said the proposal “doesn’t bear comparison” with the Darling Harbour redevelopment, which he described as “appalling”.
“It takes [the site] another step forward in terms of its urban qualities and its environmental fit, whereas the other one is anything but,” he said.
The hotel is already built over Slip Street and partly extends over the freeway. In a submission, Roads and Maritime Services said it must endorse construction, design and materials used in the project to “ensure risk to public safety … is minimised”. The stability of the road should be monitored, it said.
An assessment of sun glare found the podium and tower could affect northbound drivers on the Western Distributor and other roads. This would be reduced by vertical louvres on the tower and the use of low-reflection materials.
The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and the NSW Heritage Office warned of harm to the setting of nearby historic buildings, including the Corn Exchange and the Dundee Arms Hotel. The proposal includes heritage signs and other public domain works, such as “paving patterns to reflect building footprints of long since demolished buildings”.
High-profile tenants at the neighbouring Darling Park, such as the Commonwealth Bank, and Cockle Bay Wharf, raised concern about overshadowing and impacts during construction.
Measures such as a lower tower and a reduced footprint were rejected because they would not deliver “a viable and functional hotel”, the proposal said.
The hotel’s general manager, David Fraser, said the extra event space and hotel capacity “will be an ideal addition to the vibrant Darling Harbour precinct”.
Submissions are being reviewed. The proposal has been deemed state significant and will be considered by the planning department.
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