This week the Friends have written to the Greater Sydney Parklands raising concerns about key design features of the new Waterfront Green – principally a huge mound and a new amenities block where the veterans wards to be demolished now sit (see illustration below). Some improvements have already been made to the design in response to public comments and we hope more can be made. At the very least the whole project requires wider public consultation than has been undertaken to date.
Here is the text of that letter:
Friends of Callan Park wish to register a response to the evolving design of Waterfront Green as presented at the webinar last Tuesday, 10 August 2021.
As you know, the Friends advocate a design that respects the heritage and existing topographical character of CallanPark.
Accordingly, we have a number of concerns about key features of the proposed design and believe there are some important questions that need to be answered before any final decision is made on the Waterfront Green development.
We continue to object to ‘the mound’ which has a RL of 6.5 metres and will dominate the proposed Waterfront Green. The proposed mound disregards the morphology of Callan Park’s subtle undulations and sandstone outcrops sloping down to Iron Cove. More than half a century has passed since the last major reforming of the shape of the landscape at Callan Park when materials (including the demolition of the old Hilton Hotel) were dumped on the northern sector of Broughton Hall (now Glover Street Oval).
The designers’ justification given for this mound is that it restores or reproduces the headland of the former shoreline. We have found no evidence that any such headland existed. If such evidence exists can it be provided?
Our concerns about this mound were only deepened by the absence in the presentation of any drawings illustrating the mound’s impact on views from approaches and vantage points inside Callan Park. Given the mound is the most contestable part of the design for Waterfront Green, we would have expected any worthwhile public consultation to have included such visual material.
Is it possible that such essential visual material can be presented for public consideration?
The designers say the mound is designed for a ‘slow reveal’ of water views despite overwhelming community expectation that building demolitions would finally open up the foreshore.The RL is 6.5-6.7 at the highest point. Users would be challenged by the steps up to the mound where the concrete/aggregate ‘seating’ edges would be very hot.
AMENITIES BLOCK(located for reference only in Stage 1)
While the amenities block is not part of the current DA it features in the design currently under consideration. We object strongly to its presence. When the prime object of the revitalisation of the foreshore is to remove intrusive buildings why add one? And add one that will obscure views from building 504, the Refugee Welcome Centre.
Furthermore, it is unnecessary as there are other toilets in close proximity: at Leichhardt Oval No.3; Waterfront Oval;the former Veterans’ Recreation Building (B504) licenced to Inner West Council;and the Cane Room (where any licence should permit public access to toilets).
If this amenities block is considered essential, could it be relocated to the footprint of the recently demolished Bootmakers Workshop (B508)?It would service the adjacent planned carpark and the nearby Central Greenwhere there are no toilets.
The current position of the proposed stairway encourages pedestrians moving between ovals, to walk through the middle of Waterfront Green, a passive recreation area, rather than encouraging them to walk around via Military Drive.
The top of the proposed stairway is behind the baseball cage. To access the stairs pedestrians have to walk along the eastern edge of the Glover Street Oval, behind the AFL goal posts, which is awkward at best.
If a staircase is required at all, it could logically be located to start from opposite Military Drive (south of B504, near the black light pole) providing direct access to the proposed Community/Sports Pavilion B497.
This location also facilitates easy access to the stairway for casual walkers from Glover Street who walk along the southern edge of the Oval, past Glover’s Community Garden.
The existing fence along the eastern side of Glover Street Oval could be extended southward, behind the AFL goal posts, ending at the light pole. This would prevent BMX bikers damaging the biodiversity on the hillside. The hillside could be planted (as Inner West Council committed to doing after felling ten mature trees from this area in February) to enhance and revegetate the hillside and discourage bikers.
WHARF ROAD EXTENDED PATH TO BAY RUN
The currently proposed direct path from Wharf Road through to the Bay Run could create an unsafe speedway and reduce useable passive space. This path could be a meandering pedestrian-only safe passive pathway (no cyclists)rather than a through-way to the Bay Run.
Cycle access from Wharf Road could be by right turn along MilitaryDriveand thence to the Bay Run.
In the spirit of shared spaces this small area was long anticipated as a dedicated and safe passive destination for toddlers, disabled, elderly and people generally to finally enjoy expansive and closer water views to Iron Cove shoreline currently dominated by active recreation sporting ovals and the Bay Run.
The current design threatens to deliver a busy thoroughfare, with obstructed views and reduced useable space.
As the CEO of Greater Sydney Parklands has acknowledged, it is a pity this DA was not preceded by extensive public consultation that would not only have focused on the design of Waterfront Green but the whole context of what kind of vision we have for the future of Callan Park and the appropriate design guidelines that flow from that.
Friends of Callan Park welcome the GSP chair Mr Rose’s comments to the hundred plus people attending the webinar last week that “we believe that public consultation and engagement are the way to get to great outcomes for the parks that we all love”. In our view it is not too late to ensure a design for the Waterfront Green that respects the context, but this requires continued engagement with the public and the concerns being raised. Some progress has already been made to the current iteration of the design but major problems remain. Callan Park is too important to get this initial upgrade wrong.