Critics of the Botanic Gardens and Domain redevelopment plan, including former prime minister Paul Keating, have misunderstood the plan, NSW’s premier says.
The government has faced a barrage of criticism since the 25-year master plan was released on Sunday.
One of the most controversial aspects is a multimillion dollar five-star hotel, labelled a “Botanic Hotel” by the garden’s trust.
Premier Barry O’Farrell says the name is misleading.
“I suspect most people … thought someone had gone mad with the idea you’d build a hotel in the Botanic Gardens,” he told ABC radio.
“That’s not happening.”
Instead, it would improve “one of the ugliest points in Sydney” at Sir John Young Crescent next to the gardens, he said.
“I thought, well finally, we’re going to have Sir John Young Crescent looking pretty schmick,” Mr O’Farrell told ABC radio.
Mr Keating has been scathing of the plan, calling it an “atrocity” and suggesting those behind it “hang their heads in shame”.
He told Fairfax he was opposed to construction on the “sacred” Mrs Macquarie Point and labelled an orientation centre near the Opera House a “scandal”.
A sound shell in the Domain would “turn The Domain into an arena (for) every two-bit rock concert entrepreneur to … abuse that land from now to eternity,” he said.
Mr O’Farrell said Mr Keating was being his “usual passionate self” and many people enjoyed concerts in the Domain.
“I actually admire opinions when it comes to visions of the city,” he said.
“But to suggest this is going to commercialise the Botanic Gardens is a complete … rewrite.”
The $130 million plan is the first in the park’s 200-year history.
It would see the construction of a science and education facility, children’s garden and large tree house in the garden grounds.