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10 June 2019 Posted by 

HOTEL PLANS FOR PARRA LEAGUES

But meets with mixed reaction
DALLAS SHERRINGHAM

A NEW hotel and function proposed by Parramatta Leagues Club could be an exciting addition to the Bankwest Stadium precinct and the CBD.


The club is proposing to build the hotel in the existing older carpark adjacent to the club and stadium. It would help diversity its income away from poker machines and to provide accommodation for patrons of the club and the adjacent stadium.

It would also provide reliable revenue to help support the Parramatta Eels NRL team, the region’s premier sporting organization.

The hotel and conference centre would follow trends overseas where hotels next to major stadiums have become a major drawcard. It would also provide much needed hotel accommodation in the CBD area and would link to major sites in the west when the new light rail route runs all the way to the Olympic Stadium precinct.

The $140m hotel project is being assessed by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment as a “state significant infrastructure”.

Architectural firm Hassell has designed an impressive 17-storey building located to the north of the new stadium, leading web site The Urban Developer reports.

The site, on the corner of Eels Pl and O’Connell St, is close to a range of heritage sites, including Parramatta Park and Old Government House to the south and west. Old

Government House is one of 11 sites around Australia that collectively form the Australian Convict Sites listing on the UNESCO World Heritage Register.

The hotel would occupy a triangular footprint between the existing Leagues Club building and a recently completed, multi-storey carpark. It would contain 209 rooms, a pool, conference facilities, a gym and a garden terrace with a bar.

Design report

A design report attached to the application said the hotel would “be an entrance to Parramatta Park,” “form a transition between the Parramatta CBD” and “create better foreshore connections to the north and east, as part of a continuous foreshore pedestrian and cycle networks.”

A brick gatehouse that is part of the Heritage and Conservation Register of the Parramatta Park Trust neighbors the proposed hotel site and would be retained.

A 1996 Heritage Development Plan determined that the gatehouse was individually “unremarkable” in terms of heritage value but as one of six gatehouses is significant in contributing to the broader heritage fabric of Parramatta Park.

A heritage impact analysis prepared by Purcell for the hotel’s proponents said: “On balance this assessment concludes that the proposed hotel development does not present a significant impact to the values of the adjacent significant items, while noting the impacts to the context and setting of the Ross St Gatehouse which is considered to be substantially compromised in its current presentation.”

To the north of the site is the national heritage-listed Parramatta Female Factory and Institutions Precinct and the state heritage-listed Cumberland District Hospital.

Both sites are part of a 30ha area slated for a $310m redevelopment. In November 2018, the state government announced it would partner with the University of Sydney over the development of a new campus in the precinct.

The Leagues Club hotel would seem to be the perfect development to compliment the stadium complex, but there has been a mixed reaction to the proposal.

The stadium arm of the NSW government is pushing back against the Leagues Club’s plans to build the hotel and function centre.

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald said it was tentative about the plan because of fears it would compete with the new taxpayer-funded Bankwest Stadium.

“But Venues NSW, which runs government-owned stadiums including ANZ at Olympic Park and the 30,000 seat Bankwest Stadium at Parramatta, is wary of the extra traffic that would be generated by the hotel, and the competition from new function centres,” the SMH report said.

The proposed hotel is also opposed by the Heritage Council of NSW, in part because of the way it might visually dominate an area with significant heritage sites. The Parramatta Park Trust did not provide a comment on the proposal.

Concerns outlined

Venues NSW outlined its concern in a submission to the department. Venues NSW said it expected to host more than 43 events at the adjacent Bankwest Stadium every year, as well as at least three function or conference events at the stadium each week.

It said all road access into the area should be preserved for the stadium. It also recommended that Parramatta Leagues not duplicate function centre space in its 200-odd room hotel development.

“The introduction of a competitor in such close vicinity to the stadium may impact on that business and will therefore affect the ongoing financial viability of the stadium and the return on investment to the NSW government,” Mr Paul Doorn, the chief executive at Venues NSW wrote.

In the SMH article, the chief executive of Parramatta Leagues Club, Mr Bevan Paul, said: “I’m a little bemused as to why any government agency would be hindering clubs trying to diversify away from gambling revenue, especially in this case where we are building an asset that is only going to help their investment in the stadium.”

Mr Paul said the development would also help the club financially support the Eels. “We must diversify. Gambling is a good stream of revenue however at the moment without gambling an Eels team wouldn’t be running out.”

In its submission, the Heritage Council said the height and the sale of the proposal would significantly alter the character and skyline of the heritage precinct. The Heritage Council said the high-rise tower should be limited to the same height as the new stadium.

Parramatta Council also raised concerns about the scale of the hotel, which would sit near the recently opened Stadium.

A spokeswoman for Venues NSW told the SMH the organization's comments related to ensuring there was collaboration on managing "the potential increase in the number of events in the area”.

"Venues NSW will be meeting with Parramatta Leagues Club in the coming weeks to discuss their proposal further," the spokeswoman said.

Sources: The Urban Developer, SMH.



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