Community concerns recognised: Central Barangaroo proposal knocked back

In a huge win for heritage, the NSW Premier has announced that Central Barangaroo won't be brutalised, after the National Trust and many others raised the alarm about proposed development.

The original overall concept for Barangaroo saw buildings that would taper down from south to north, allowing Millers Point and Observatory Hill to retain their heritage views and connection with the harbour. The most recent proposal for Central Barangaroo (Modification 9) however saw a residential tower and numerous height limit increases that would forever block important views throughout the precinct, including a 73m high tower obstructing the western views both to and from the Sydney Observatory.

A rendering of proposed development at Central Barangaroo.

In response to these substantial and destructive design changes, as well as the ever growing footprint of development throughout Barangaroo, there was an immense public backlash to the proposal including a strong campaign from the National Trust, City of Sydney, and Millers Point Resident Action Group.

In reaction to the community campaigns to save the character of the historic Millers Point and Observatory Hill, the proposed height limits are now set to be knocked back by the Planning Minister who has requested that Infrastructure NSW “brings forward a revised proposal that meets these expectations and appropriately responds to the other key issues raised by my department, the community and other key stakeholders.”

The lowered building envelope has been supported by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, who stated:

“I want our wonderful heritage to come into this beautiful park. This beautiful open space on the harbour. It’s about connecting… the sightlines and connection between this great part of Sydney and Barangaroo. By giving them (the developer) certainty with the height limits, it ensures from Barangaroo to Observatory Hill, those sightlines are kept for the heritage part of our great city, up to Millers Point. These are great aspects of Australia’s heritage and history and culture that we need to observe and flourish.”

The decision to reduce the height limits for Central Barangaroo were also supported by former Prime Minister Paul Keating:

I’m pleased to… acknowledge the government’s decision to limit the height of the buildings here at Barangaroo Central. The buildings along Hickson Road at Barangaroo Central are the stepping stones from the high rise buildings of Barangaroo South to the headland park, and getting that right, which I believe the Minister Roberts has got right, deserves a point of congratulations.

The current public view of Central Barangaroo from Observatory Hill.

The retention of the historic views and connections to the Harbour are a win for Sydney’s heritage, with the character of Millers Point, the Rocks and Observatory Hill now set to be better preserved and respected. The Trust welcomes the fact that the Planning Minister has listened to the significant community concern on this important issue, and is cautiously optimistic with the Government’s revised stance. We will continue to work to ensure a new design protects the important heritage aspects of this significant location.

Find out more

The National Trust (NSW) has been campaigning to protect NSW’s built, cultural and natural heritage for over 75 years. Find out more about our advocacy work.

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  1. So the NSW Premier Perrottet and the ex PM Keating hold a press conference a few weeks ago togeather at Barangaroo to voice their opinions on developers persuing taller bigger buildings at Barangaroo. They pretty much scuttled these plans but it seems Premier Perrottet has no such qualms about dismantling our iconic Power House Museum and doing backroom deals with the very same fraternity that he’s criticising this week. Hmmmmm.

  2. Congratulations to the National Trust and others who have saved Barangaroo from demolition. It may be of interest that Pier 1 Walsh Bay was saved from demolition by adaptive re-use. Then, during 1988 the structures forming Piers 2/3, 6/7 and 8/9 were inspected and then extensively refurbished to full use for the Wharf Theatre, offices etc., thus saving a part of our history and engineering heritage for future use. It was a rewarding experience for me as an engineer and a founder of the Engineering Heritage movement in Australia. John Muirhead.

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