Opal Tower at Sydney Olympic Park is 27m over the area’s height limit. Picture: Gordon McComiskie
Opal Tower at Sydney Olympic Park is 27m over the area’s height limit. Picture: Gordon McComiskie

Opal Tower approved despite busting height limit

EXCLUSIVE: Developers were allowed to build Opal Tower 27m above the height limit at Olympic Park because of its "design excellence".

It can be revealed rival Meriton - owned by famed developer Harry Triguboff - complained to NSW Planning about Opal Tower breaching height limits when the building was approved in 2015.

In a submission made by Meriton in 2015 and obtained by The Daily Telegraph, the developer complained the Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) had previously said it would not support variations to height limits in the area.

"The proposed 37-storey development is far in excess of the 20-30 storey provision in the SOPA Masterplan 2030," the submission states.

While NSW Planning originally had a 90m height restriction on the site, it allowed developer Ecove to build the Opal Tower to 117.1m.

In the approval, Planning said it supported the increased height as the development exhibited "design excellence".

About 300 residents were evacuated on Christmas Eve after a concrete panel on the 10th floor cracked.

The building was approved in 2015 by Planning NSW rather than council because it was classified as a state significant development.

A planning spokesman said the decision "based on a rigorous process of merit assessment, consultation, and good urban design principles".

Premier Gladys Berejiklian answers questions about Opal Tower at a press conference. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Premier Gladys Berejiklian answers questions about Opal Tower at a press conference. Picture: Dylan Robinson

"Any comment around height and the integrity of the building is misleading the community. There is no connection between the structural integrity of the building and the height of it," he said.

Opposition planning spokeswoman Tania Mihailuk said the government's investigation into tower needed to also look at the planning approvals process.

"Given we have seen a plethora of developments approved under this Government's watch, the public needs to know that the approvals process for this particular development were followed properly," Ms Mihailuk said.

A spokesman for Planning Minister Anthony Robers accused Labor of running a "scaremongering campaign".

Residents Ilya Levchenko and his wife Anastasia Chen leave Opal Tower after picking some things up on New Year’s Day. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Residents Ilya Levchenko and his wife Anastasia Chen leave Opal Tower after picking some things up on New Year’s Day. Picture: Dylan Robinson

Meanwhile, builder Icon's reimbursement scheme has been complicated by bogus expense claims.

People who don't live in the building have made fraudulent expense claims with a source revealing a number of people not tied to the building needed to be "weeded out".

In one instance, a family-of-four grew suspiciously larger to 10.

Icon is reimbursing $220 a night for a one-bedroom apartment and $500 a night for a four-bedroom.

They are also entitled to $100 per day for lunch and dinner per person.

The first batch of reimbursements were paid on Monday.