Lendlease plan for 52-storey Strathfield tower rejected


High-rise developments will be limited to Sydney’s official Koreatown, not its more popular suburban counterpart after the council knocked back Lendlease’s 52-storey proposal. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Adam Yip

Lendlease will put up for sale some of its non-core investments in Sydney’s inner west after the developer pulled the pin on an ambitious proposal to develop for a high-rise tower by a local train station.

Strathfield, a popular interchange area located 14km from the Sydney CBD, which is known colloquially at Little Korea or “Stratty”, was set to see a 52-storey mixed use property rise at Strathfield Square.

The development, one of several to be proposed over the past few decades along Strathfield’s main strip, received heavy criticism from locals.

Lendease development managing director Tom Mackellar on Wednesday confirmed the company was now looking to focus on its key assets.

“Lendlease withdrew its planning proposal for 5 Strathfield Square following feedback from Council,” he said.

“We are now divesting this site, in line with our strategy to divest non-core assets and recycle capital for new developments.”

Strathfield Mayor Matthew Blackmore last month delivered an update on the tower, commenting that suggestions from council were not followed by the developer.

“The proposal was not supported in principle by many local residents for several reasons, including the tower height, the loss of council’s carpark, the loss of bus bays, a lack of parking within the development and massive overshadowing of our local streets,” he said.

It’s understood that while the proposal was put forward publicly, it was not formally submitted to council.

Lendlease had proposed a primarily residential development, which included a three-storey podium with retail on ground level, residential amenities on the first floor and communal open space on second floor.

The development proposed apartments to be built on levels four to 50, with an open garden on level 51.

It would have fronted a new bus interchange with the building cornering 5 Churchill Ave, 2-5 Strathfield Square, and 4-18 Albert Rd. A bicycle hub was also proposed on Albert Rd.

It would have occupied three existing propertys already owned by Lendlease on the corner of Albert Rd and The Boulevard, which are tenanted by real estate agent LJ Hooker, cafe The Smelly Cheesekcake and popular new bar and eatery The Zodiac. The development would have also overtaken a 55-car council-owned carpark opposite Strathfield Plaza.

The Lendlease project was heavily contested by locals including the Strathfield Chamber of Commerce who wrote to NSW Minister for Infrastructure Rob Stokes.

Concern over the development was widely expressed on social media and change.org over loss of council land and the carpark, overshadowing, a reduction in the taxi rank and that it would “opens up Albert Rd and Churchill Ave to two-way traffic”.

Plans to redevelop Strathfield Square have been coming and going for years without successful approval.

In a video posted on YouTube in 2014, former state member for Strathfield Charles Casuscelli presented a future vision of the suburb, which he described as “a better version, a more visionary version of, say, what they’ve been able to achieve at Chatswood” with “a bus rail interchange that actually works”.

A bird’s eye view of Strathfield Square, a public space usually bustling with people during lunch time and evenings.

In Ethos Urban’s project justification, the consultant argued that the development of Strathfield Square would transform the public space and upgrade the current bus interchange to “ensure these benefits are able to be delivered with no financial burden on the NSW government”.

“Doing nothing represents a missed opportunity to revitalise Strathfield Square and provide a higher quality built form that is more commensurate with the intended vision of Strathfield as an important centre in Greater Sydney,” it read.

“This option will not provide additional key residential and active employment floorspace in addition to significant public domain improvements to the benefit of the local community. Doing nothing will realise none of the benefits envisioned by this planning proposal that contribute to the liveability, productivity, and sustainability objectives for the site, and is therefore considered to be inappropriate.”

The council said it was open to future proposals and was establishing a town centre working group, which would assess future development plans with stakeholders.

Mr Mackellar said Lendlease remained interested in Sydney’s inner west but not 5 Strathfield Square.

“The sale of 5 Strathfield Square, Strathfield, forms part of our strategy to divest non-core assets and recycle capital for new developments,” he said.

“Sydney’s inner and middle suburban ring locations remain of interest to us and we are always looking for the right opportunities to add to our pipeline.”