Just when Crown Resorts thought that it had cleared all major hurdles involved in the construction of its $2 billion Barangaroo casino in New South Wales (NSW) Australia, a local community group called Millers Point Fund Incorporated has decided to take legal action to stop the casino project. The group alleges that the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) had committed a number of fundamental errors during the approval process for the Barangaroo casino.
The Barangaroo proposal involves developing the casino and a controversial tower along the foreshore which was earlier allotted for the development of a public park. Crown Resorts made a number of changes to its proposal based on PAC’s recommendations and finally got the required approval after PAC took into account the Casino Control Act of 2013 to make its final decision.
Millers Point have enlisted the services of the Environmental Defenders Office who claim that PAC had “fettered” with its decision making process as the Casino Control Act has no influence over the planning decisions made in the state of NSW.
The PAC said this amendment meant the location of the gaming floor was “effectively legislatively settled” by NSW Parliament. The PAC made other design changes to the shape of the apartment and casino tower, and surrounding areas, but did not propose moving the foreshore block.
In a statement, Sue Higginson, principal solicitor and CEO of the Environmental Defenders Office said “In fact the PAC really is required to make a decision about where a casino can and cannot be built based on planning law. Higginson also alleged that the error was “so significant that its decision to approve the latest modification to the concept plan and approve the actual construction of the project is invalid and of no effect.”
When PAC held a public hearings in April 2016, the most controversial and debated topic was the location of the casino and apartment tower. The project was also opposed by Graham Jahn, who is the planning director for the City of Sydney. Jahn and Millers Point are concerned that the Barangaroo casino will be a hindrance to the public from accessing the open space on the foreshore.
Millers Point has named Crown Resorts, the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, Lendlease, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and Planning Minister Rob Stoke as respondents. Legal proceedings are expected to begin in a few weeks time. This legal challenge will most likely end up further delaying the Barangaroo casino project. Crown Resorts released a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange and confirmed that it plans to vigorously defend itself against these legal proceedings.