Cockle Bay skyscraper given green light

An artist’s impression of the proposed Cockle Bay Park redevelopment being undertaken by GPT Group, Brookfield Property Partners and AMP Capital. Picture: Supplied
An artist’s impression of the proposed Cockle Bay Park redevelopment being undertaken by GPT Group, Brookfield Property Partners and AMP Capital. Picture: Supplied

Sydney’s Darling Harbour is closer to having a new skyscraper, with a fourth $1 billion-plus tower for the Cockle Bay precinct winning the support of an independent planning panel after a redesign by partners GPT, Brookfield and AMP Capital.

The trio reworked their proposed high-rise office and retail precinct, which will add to the existing three-tower Darling Park complex, slashing its height from 235m to 183m and shifting the tower further from Pyrmont Bridge.

The Clover Moore-led Sydney council had objected to the potential for overshadowing from the proposed tower for a planned town hall square and the wind impact of the redevelopment.

Commercial Insights: Subscribe to receive the latest news and updates

But the multimillion-dollar redevelopment of Sydney’s Cockle Bay Wharf was given the go-ahead after NSW’s Independent Planning Commission found any additional overshadowing of the proposed square would not happen during peak-use times.

The $649 million revitalisation project, which includes new shops, bars and restaurants, along with a commercial office tower up to a maximum height of 183m, will now go ahead.

City residents raised concerns about visual amenity and overshadowing effects, particularly on the nearby Astoria Tower and Millennium Tower, but these were not sufficient to halt the project.

The commission acknowledged council’s concerns regarding potential overshadowing but says a draft plan to improve solar access protection did not carry any statutory weight.

“The applicant has reduced the building height and reconfigured the building envelope to reduce any overshadowing impacts on the proposed Town Hall Square,” it states.

The commission says the redevelopment will make a valuable contribution to the area by creating active and passive open spaces, landscaping, enhancement of the Darling Harbour foreshore.

The scheme will include about 60,000sqm and up to 40 levels of office space, and a world-class dining, retail and entertainment precinct comprising up to 10,000sq m. The premium commercial tower will target a 6 Green Star rating and 5 Star NABERS energy rating.

The building was last year identified as a potential location for the new Commonwealth Bank headquarters, but the outcome of talks between the bank and developers is yet to emerge.

CBA’s leases are expiring at its Darling Park office in Tower 1 from 2020, but it has yet to reveal its plans.

Meanwhile, another key Darling Park tenant, US technology group Salesforce, is stepping up its hunt for a new office home, with industry sources suggesting it is targeting a move to AMP Capital’s Quay Quarter Tower.

The GPT Wholesale Office Fund (50%), Brookfield (30%) and AMP Capital Wholesale Office Fund (20%) consortium lodged its initial development application for the area in 2016. They are aiming to link Sydney’s CBD to Darling Harbour through building new ¬elevated public space.

Along with a premier retail, cafe and dining precinct, the project was set to revitalise Cockle Bay by delivering 1ha of public space.

This article originally appeared on