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Planned new hotel at Royal Randwick angers Greens councillors

Local councillors have voiced their concern over plans for a new hotel at Royal Randwick.

After dumping plans for serviced apartments, The Australian Turf Club (ATC) now wants to build a seven-storey hotel with 190 rooms, gaming area, registered club, restaurant and bar at the racecourse.

Randwick Greens councillors fear this will lead to a proliferation of gambling and are likely to oppose the ATC’s plan.

Planning documents show facilities will operate until 1am, seven days a week.

An ATC spokesman argued the hotel would increase revenue at the racecourse “continues to become a seven-day-a-week entertainment precinct”.

“The opportunity for a new hotel is compelling and will provide an alternate revenue stream to continue to invest into Royal Randwick Racecourse,” he said.

Greens councillor Rafaela Pandolfini believes the negative impact on health and wellbeing, particularly of the 50 gaming machines, will be too high.

A social and economic impact assessment found the impact is problematic without consideration of and implementation of mitigation strategies.

“Will this development have some kind of casino aspect included?” Pandolfini asked.

Pandolfini accused the ATC of being “focused on gambling culture, including the Juniors development where the main revenue is from pokie machines”.

Other council concerns include the bulk and scale of the proposed building, its visual impact, pedestrian safety and potential noise impact.

“I think it’s very likely that this hotel development will be used to support night racing if and when that gets off the ground, and as such do not support it,” Randwick Greens mayor Philipa Veitch said.

“I’m personally opposed to horse racing and gambling and think there are much better uses of public land in this densely populated area.”

The ATC’s hotel plans will be assessed by the Planning Department, which seems to be in favour of the $94 million proposal.

“It will offer accommodation next to the track and support the growth of the equine industry by capitalising on the existing precinct, which has been operating for more than 150 years,” said the department’s executive director Anthea Sargeant.

A Planning Department spokeswoman said the statements “speak to facts about the proposal and do not indicate support”.

“The department is development-agnostic and assesses proposals on strategic merit, technical input, and stakeholder feedback,” she said.

Veitch said the comments “could be seen to be endorsing the proposal before it has been determined”.

“The community rightfully expects the department to be impartial and assess all developments on their merit, and I hope all public submissions will be carefully considered before any decision is made,” she said.



Jonathan Jackson, 27th November 2023