Barangaroo planning 'the wild west': MP

Sydney's Barangaroo precinct is being scrutinised for potential bias in negotiations over the multibillion-dollar harbourside development amid allegations it's "the wild west of planning in NSW".

The transformation of the Sydney CBD's western harbour foreshore has prompted much debate and been subject to legal battles, abandoned plans and disputes between the council and state governments.

A parliamentary committee is examining "any actual or perceived biases" during negotiations between the government, builder Lendlease and casino and resort company Crown.

It is particularly focused on "sight lines" and the protection of the valuable views they provide.

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich told Tuesday's hearing that disputes and modified plans had cost the city a world-class harbour precinct.

"Fifteen years of planning at Barangaroo focused on little more than squeezing as much development onto the land as possible," he said.

Planning laws didn't apply at Barangaroo, he said.

"It is essentially the wild west of planning in NSW, through unsolicited proposals, state significant development proposals ... the very clever pathways developers, with the support of government, have been able to find ways through," Mr Greenwich said.

Crown and Lendlease expected views of the harbour, the bridge and opera house from its Barangaroo South high-rises, and felt negotiations were not conducted in good faith when those views looked to be interrupted by construction at Central Barangaroo.

Former Crown executive Karl Bitar, appearing as a private citizen, said that sparked a legal battle.

"Once we knew that our sight lines would be breached and impacted, that's when we were extremely disappointed," he said.

"We ended up going to court ... there was a legal settlement with the government."

Mr Bitar did not know details of the settlement, which the government announced in 2019.

Committee chair Mark Latham called it a "quasi-out-of-court settlement".

He said Barangaroo was a "shemozzle".

"This whole thing has been a debacle ... a classic example of the failure of a grandiose master plan," he said.

Grocon said it was involved in development from 2015 to 2019 then forced out, resulting in 87 of its entities being placed in voluntary administration.

"Grocon's position is that the Barangaroo Delivery Authority/Infrastructure NSW demonstrated a sustained absence of good faith, transparency and fairness towards Grocon throughout the entire tender, negotiation and development process," the company's submission said.

It spent $37 million helping the government in negotiations with Crown and Lendlease, and claims Infrastructure NSW withheld information that would have provided more certainty and improved the value of its development rights.

"However, from at least the middle of June 2019, Infrastructure NSW facilitated the sale of Grocon's development rights to another developer," Grocon said.

Lendlease said it was right to believe it would have uninterrupted views from its buildings.

The concept plan in place since 2007 allowed for low-rise development at Central Barangaroo and substantially higher development at Barangaroo South, its submission said.

Another hearing is scheduled on Friday next week. The committee will report by December 20.