Hotel magnate Dr Jerry Schwartz is making a fresh attempt to build a helipad on top of the 33-storey Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour.
The cosmetic surgeon hopes to use the platform to transport guests and world leaders from the airport to his accommodation, which is also situated adjacent to the International Convention Centre.
A previous attempt to build a helipad was muted in 2014 before his Sofitel complex was complete. Back then, however, architect Richard Francis-Jones told The Sydney Morning Herald, “It’s the first I’ve heard of it. It hasn’t been designed for a heliport, it’s got a chiselled roof on it.”
However, if these new plans come to fruition, it would be the CBD’s first helipad since the 1980s, when a similar construction was removed to make way for the redevelopment of the former rail yards.
Currently, the only other public helipad services are located at Bankstown and Mascot, which, the plans add, are difficult to reach with congested roads.
Dr Schwartz said, “Given the devastation to Sydney’s tourism and business economy as a result of coronavirus, there is no better time to introduce the concept of a CBD helipad to help revive the city’s economic fortunes.
“The world’s great cities – such as London, Paris and New York – have CBD helipads, and even Melbourne offers city helicopter transfers to the River Yarra helipad.
“The city has had a helipad in the past, so we are not proposing anything that is dramatically different, but its construction can play a significant role in reviving the city’s economy in the wake of the devastating impact of coronavirus.”
Dr Schwartz said his helipad would be classified as an ‘aircraft facility’ under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation, and that he would undertake “extensive consultation” with local residents, businesses and other stakeholders as part of the process of submitting an Environmental Impact Statement.
He added that investigations were underway to assess noise impact and hoped that it could potentially be operational in 18 months.
The new bid comes after an initial attempt half-way through the last decade to build one.
“We are still very committed to having a helipad on top of the Sofitel,” Dr Schwartz told the AFR in 2016. “The government is well aware of our plans and given the regeneration of Darling Harbour and the city’s plans to be one of the great international convention and exhibition cities, it makes sense to be innovative and go one step further by adding a helipad.”