A large residential tower is being proposed above a Telstra exchange in Sydney, Australia.

As noted by ITNews, the NSW Department of Planning has released draft plans for public comment that would see a large multi-story residential skyscraper built above the facility at 524-542 Pacific Highway, St Leonards.

teltra exchange sydney - NSW II
– New South Wales government

The state-led rezoning proposes the development of an AU$209 million (US$136.5m), 43-story building with 272 build-to-rent homes, 10 key worker housing units, 84 rooms for serviced apartment accommodation, and retail.

The new development will be cantilevered above the exchange to not interfere with the existing facility’s operations.

“There are no changes proposed to the operation of the existing Telstra exchange building and telecommunication infrastructure within it,” the NSW notice reads.

Documents say the exchange, a three-story red brick building fronting the Pacific Highway with six stories to the south of the proposed site, is hugely significant within the Telstra network and therefore “cannot be demolished, relocated, or used for support in the construction of the proposed development.”

“The continuing operation of the Telstra Exchange requires a bespoke structural solution to enable the construction of new floors above it," planning documents state. "The network of underground Telstra cabling prohibits basement excavation, increasing the site’s complexity and further reducing the space available for development. As such, any redevelopment of the site must be undertaken with consideration of the following site-specific constraints.

“In response, the structural solution for the proposed development involves the incorporation of full-level trusses that will transfer the load from the proposed tower to edge columns on either side of the Telstra exchange. This will minimize disruption to the Telstra exchange and allow it to remain in operation throughout the construction and operation of the new development.”

Planning land use strategy and housing deputy secretary Monica Gibson said: "This development could provide more housing options, foster diversity, and enhance housing affordability.

"It proposes new homes only six kilometers from the Sydney CBD that are close to public transport, including the forthcoming Sydney Metro station in Crows Nest.”

The project, known as St Leonards Telstra Exchange Redevelopment, has been planned since at least 2019.