The 5.2 hectare Central Barangaroo lies between Barangaroo South and the northern Headland. The Master Plan for Central Barangaroo strongly promotes high density development and cites the need to seek a modification to the current planning approval for the site - the Barangaroo Concept Plan. The 59,225 square metres of commercial/residential Gross Floor Area approved in 2010 is proposed to be more than doubled to 125,000 square metres.
Although the Master Plan sets out the important principle of “preserving views from Observatory Hill to the horizon and the harbour,” a December 2014 Fact Sheet only commits to “maintain existing views from the Sydney Observatory to the horizon.
In June 2015, the NSW government announced plans to build a rail line with a new station at Central Barangaroo. Media reports indicate that “while $84 million has been allocated in the 2015-16 state budget for planning, Treasury is understood to be looking at financing the estimated $400 million cost of the station through further increases in floor space.”
To finance the proposed new Central Barangaroo railway station there may be moves to dramatically increase building heights in Central Barangaroo from the current nine storey limits. This would impact on the views of the historic High Street Terraces from the harbour and threaten the views of the harbour and horizon from historic Observatory Hill Park.
There may also be pressures to decrease the promised 50% open space by siting more development in areas currently designated for use by the public.
The National Trust has long held the view that there should be no high rise development north of the line which effectively divides Central and South Barangaroo.
At the time of construction of the Observatory Hotel (now the Langham Hotel) in Kent Street, the Trust successfully fought to limit the building’s height so as to protect the view of the harbour from Observatory Hill.
The Trust has criticised the planning process for the entire Barangaroo project where repeated modifications to the Concept Plan have resulted in ever increasing density at the expense of the public domain. The Trust would strongly oppose the continuation of such a practice at Central Barangaroo.
The Trust will closely monitor the ongoing planning process for Central Barangaroo and will oppose any further increase in floor space area, building height or encroachment on the public domain.