At the heart of the case was the controversial Crown Sydney Hotel Resort development, which will turn a public park in Bangaroo, New South Wales (NSW) into the city’s second casino, according to the Australian Financial Review.
The Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) of NSW, representing the community group Millers Point Fund Inc., puts into question the propriety of the contested piece of land, arguing that the NSW Planning Assessment Commission or PAC has failed to defend the space for public use, preserved for that purpose in a concept plan approved in 2007.
Michael Hall, counsel of the petitioners, will go head to head with Lendlease counsel Neil Williams, Crown lawyer Richard Lancaster. Counsels Ian Pike and Richard Beasley, who conducted the recent inquiry into council conduct for the NSW government, will be represented by Bangaroo planning minister Rob Stokes.
“It’s without a doubt a case with a David and Goliath character,” EDO chief executive Sue Higginson said.
In seeking the court’s blessing to stop the construction, the petitioners claimed that the NSW Planning Assessment Commission committed grave abuse of discretion for handing over a site allocated to a foreshore park to James Packer‘s Crown Resorts for its Crown Sydney Hotel Resort development.
The group contended that PAC decision to override the plan and award he waterfront site to Crown in June and shifted the park to a site adjacent to busy Hickson Road was illegal.
By amending the Casino Control Act at the same time as it granted the casino operator a license, the EDO insisted that the PAC had illegally awarded the site on the waterfront to Crown.
They explained that PAC was required under law to decide the location of the casino using the Environmental Planning and Assessment rules, “untainted” by the casino act.
“The commission misunderstood its powers and failed to have an open mind to make a decision,” Ms Higginson said.