Great news: $10 million for the Landscape Structure Plan for Callan Park
A grant of $10 million as ‘a down payment’ – to quote Rob Stokes, the Minister for Planning from last Thursday’s announcement– is to be spent on the enhancement of the parklands of Callan Park. After decades of neglect a state government is committing a significant sum to Callan Park. As has been pointed out, this $10m is in addition to the $2.42 million recurrent each year for basic maintenance.
The news broke last Thursday, 16 July, along with the announcement that the long-awaited Landscape Structure Plan (LSP) is on exhibition for comment for six weeks starting from Monday July 20, 2020. You can view the plan here. We encourage you to make your submission – you have until September 14, 2020.
As you will see, the Landscape Structure Plan contains both the final vision (page 65) and a list of priority projects (page 69) as a first stage. Any response needs to respond to both – but particularly to the first stage priorities as the $10 million will only go so far, as demolitions and landscaping appear to be very expensive exercises. The recent resurfacing, upgrade and irrigation system for the Waterfront Oval at Callan Park, for instance, cost nearly $2.5 million.
The first stage concentrates on opening up the foreshore and contains fewer (if any) controversial demolitions as well.
The Friends will be holding a Q&A and discussion on the LSP soon by zoom. Details will be sent later by email.
Likewise, Jamie Parker, MP, will be holding a zoom public meeting on the LSP too –
3rd August, 2020, 6.00pm -7.00pm.
[He is letter boxing and emailing details. You can register here.]
Our local MP Jamie Parker, who has lobbied so tirelessly for this recognition of Callan Park, is now asking the Minister for a costing for each of the priority projects. This will help shape our response as to where the money can best be spent. These costings are expected by the end of July. They will help inform the Friends’ submission that we will put on line.
Naturally this $10 million grant can only be a beginning. Heritage buildings, such as Broughton Hall (1842), the Convalescent Cottages (1881) and the Farm Manager’s Cottage (late 19thC) continue to be demolished by neglect. Their saving and restoration are now urgent matters. Our information is that the $10 million is entirely for the LSP.
Further, on the downside, the Minister has not created a Callan Park & Broughton Hall Trust. To the contrary, he is abolishing the existing Trusts for Centennial and Moore Parks, Parramatta Park and the Western Sydney Parklands and transferring management of these iconic parks (plus others such as queens park and Fernhill Estate) to a new centralised bureaucracy – the Greater Sydney Parklands agency. The fear is that this will ‘lock the community out’ of discussions and deliberations specific to Callan Park. However, three factors should be weighed against this.
First, the inclusion of Callan Park in the portfolio of the new Agency alongside places such as Centennial Park and Parramatta Park, accords Callan Park a status it did not previously have in the eyes of government.
Secondly, and this is very significant, the management of Callan Park will continue to be governed by the Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act of 2002. This Act, as you know, bars any sell-off and prohibits any commercialisation. Any development is also reliant on assessment and permission from the local Council.
Thirdly, a very active community and local MP in Jamie Parker should ensure that the public’s choices for Callan park are heard very clearly by the new agency. Hopefully the Inner West Council can also get constructively involved as well.
It could also be added that in Rob Stokes, the current Minister for Planning, Callan Park has a definite champion.
in a parallel public exhibition, you can view the government’s ’50 year vision’ and information about the Greater Sydney Parklands agency here.
We encourage you to read the document and complete the survey.
Regrettably the potential for repurposing buildings for modern mental health services on this therapeutic site is still not recognised by this state government, although the lobbying on this score continues. in this connection, on the plus side, despite the recommended demolitions of up to 25 buildings on site, significant buildings still remain to house such services. The authors of the LSP say that the community is no longer interested in mental health being accommodated on the site – despite their own survey results showing that is not the case.
Finally, it cannot be denied that it has been a good week for Callan Park and the community’s long campaign for serious investment in the site. The Friends have been inundated with congratulatory messages. There certainly is cause for celebration. Let’s hope it’s the start of a new era.
July 22, 2020
P.S. note that updates can always be followed on our Friends of Callan Park Facebook page.