The future of Callan Park still hangs in the balance.
The re-elected NSW state government has assigned the administration of Callan Park to Rob Stokes, the new Minister for Planning and Public Places.
But the ownership of the site remains with NSW Health department whose minister is Brad Hazzard.
For those reasons the Friends have lobbied both ministers.
A delegation from the Friends met Stokes on June 19 along with our local MP Jamie Parker.
The Friends reiterated their key demands for
- a Trust to manage Callan Park;
- public exhibition of the Landscape Structure Plan (which aims to increase and enhance existing parkland); and
- funding for the LSP and the safeguarding and restoration of heritage buildings
- No tampering with the Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act 2002.
In response, the Minister said his key consideration was to get the governance right for Callan Park. He has already detailed key personnel in his department to prepare a proposal for Callan Park’s future governance and has put the Friends in touch with the team leader.
The Minister, however, indicated that his current thinking was to subsume Callan Park into a larger Trust. He also stated that his goal is that Callan Park should be ‘self-funding’.
These two ideas are possible danger signals for the future of Callan Park. In the Friends’ view the site requires public investment after decades of neglect and a dedicated Trust that will represent the community in the sensitive and careful management of Callan Park.
While these are possible points of future conflict, the Minister also emphasised that he was keen to work with the community and not to pick any fights.
The delegation did raise the related issue of the future of Kirbride – the suite of sandstone buildings that make up the original asylum and which will be vacated by Sydney University in 2020.
The government is yet to make any decision about how to proceed on securing a new tenant for these buildings although the Friends are aware of at least two bids in preparation for the future use of Kirkbride. Property NSW is said to be preparing a public invitation for expressions of interest for later this year.
On August 6 the Friends had an appointment with Brad Hazzard, the Minister for Health – again organised by our local MP Jamie Parker.
It was not the best day to be seeing Hazzard as he was busy trying to guide abortion law reform through parliament.
He sent his apologies but we met his senior advisor and the manager of Health department assets. We pressed on them
- The advisability of cooperation between Health and Planning in management of the site
- The need to publicly exhibit the Landscape Structure Plan which was drawn up two years ago with the aim of enhancing open space and protecting heritage buildings and landscapes at Callan Park.
As we left this meeting we did encounter the Minister hurrying down a corridor searching for us. He pressed us to deliver him a briefing note of what we expected of him.
That is now being completed.
Whether any of this results in action on Callan Park may be doubted as this government has procrastinated for the past 8 years. There have been plenty of fine words but little or no action or investment. Their views on investing in public assets are well-known.
However the Friends look forward to working with this government to finally resolve and secure the future of Callan Park and Broughton Hall. Certainly the local community and our local MP Jamie Parker will not let them forget that Callan Park needs urgent attention.