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What is proposed and when will it operate?
The Schwartz Family Company is proposing to build Sydney’s first commercial, rooftop helipad on one its Sydney hotels – Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour. The proposal is in its early stages and will follow an extensive Government planning and assessment process, which can take around 18 months. Based on the successful progression through planning approvals and construction, the earliest the helipad would operate is 2022 subject to planning approvals and construction.

Why is a rooftop helipad needed at Darling Harbour?
A Helipad in the purpose-built hotel adjoining the ICC Sydney can offer a unique, safe and secure transport service for ICC Sydney delegates, exhibitors and visitors, and could provide hotel guests direct travel to and from Sydney Airport and potentially to other destinations around Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Region.

The Darling Harbour Helipad will significantly benefit Sydney’s business and convention profile and provide dignitaries attending the ICC and Sydney CBD the highest security and convenience while minimising any impact or disruption to our city.

It could also provide increased capacity for emergency services in the event of an incident at the ICC or Darling Harbour precinct.

When will planning and design start?
The project is in its very early stages, with a preliminary design for the helipad prepared this year. A comprehensive environmental assessment is now underway, which includes stakeholder and community engagement to determine the potential impacts and outline strategies to mitigate those impacts.

What studies are being undertaken?
Plans and studies being undertaken for this project include:

  • Architectural Plans
  • Structural Engineering Plans
  • Wind Assessment
  • Vibration Assessment
  • Acoustic Assessment
  • Traffic Assessment
  • Waste Management Plan
  • Aeronautical Impact Assessment
  • Heritage Impact Assessment
  • Visual Impact Assessment

What Government approvals are needed for this project?
The rooftop helipad would be classified an aircraft facility, categorised as Designated Development, under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation (2000). Accordingly, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required to be lodged with City of Sydney Council for determination. As part of the assessment process, Council will also refer the application to numerous State authorities.

When can local stakeholders and the community have a say?
Stakeholder and community engagement are at the project’s core. Outcomes of investigations will help to understand potential operations and will inform the design. The local community will be invited to an information session to find out more about the proposal and provide feedback. Once the EIS is lodged with the City of Sydney Council, it will directly seek community feedback as part of the statutory process.

When can stakeholders and locals look at the technical studies?
The technical studies will form part of the EIS and will be available to be reviewed when the City of Sydney Council places the EIS on public exhibition.

What would be the operating hours of the helipad?
The outcome of the technical studies is required before the operating hours can be determined. However, the proposed operating hours will form part of the EIS, which will be placed on public exhibition.

Why is the project being planned during the COVID-19 pandemic?
In 2014, the Schwartz Family Company’s plans for the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour included a rooftop helipad. The hotel was opened in October 2017 and a decision was soon made to undertake an environmental assessment for the proposed Helipad. A request was lodged for the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs), and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) issued the SEARS in August 2018.

Following this, a team of technical specialists was formed to perform investigations in the potential operations and impacts of a helipad. The technical studies required for the EIS will be comprehensive and are being developed over a considerable amount of time to inform the proposal.

They are underway, allowing us the opportunity to share the proposal with the community. Recognising the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are committed to providing the community the time to understand the project and potential impacts of the helipad, and to provide feedback.

The project team will consult the community and key stakeholders in alternative ways to ensure health and safety at all times and meet physical distancing requirements.