Briefing note for Minister for Health, the Hon Brad Hazzard MLA
Background: Friends of Callan Park (FOCP) forward this Briefing Note of Seven Priorities for government action at Callan Park in response to the Minister’s personal invitation to do so. The ownership of Callan Park and Broughton Hall is formally with NSW Health, stemming from the days when it was a psychiatric hospital.
No. 1 Priority Tenancy of Kirkbride Complex
Sydney College of the Arts is due to vacate these premises early 2020. As a matter of urgency, FOCP urges the Minister for Health and the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces to seek a suitable tenancy arrangement for Kirkbride. Whilst Callan Park is often referred to as the jewel of the inner west, the Kirkbride complex is considered the crowning glory and the buildings require on-going maintenance to avoid further deterioration. They will attract vandals if left vacant. FOCP believes a reputable tenant should be sought immediately in an open and public tendering process and any future lease agreement should require leaseholders to maintain the buildings and the curtilage surrounding these heritage buildings.
No. 2 Priority Holistic management of Callan Park & Broughton Hall
FOCP’s preferred option is that the entire site is managed by one entity, preferably a stand-alone Trust. In the interim, a coordinating committee comprising the Departments of Health, and Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) could be appointed.Community representation is essential on these committees. The first task of a management entity should be to undertake an inventory of the buildings and their conditions, which would provide a baseline for any EOI and future tenants.
No. 3 Priority Public exhibition of the Landscape Structure Plan (LSP)
The LSP initiated in 2017 has not benefited from broad, transparent public consultation and community feedback. Since the LSP already appears to be guiding current management of the site, public exhibition and consultation should take place as soon as possible. The LSP must include a discussion about the potential uses of empty buildings before decisions are made to remove buildings in an attempt to establish a more accessible parkland.
No. 4 Priority Reduce the risks on Waterfront Drive
FOCP recommends that the traffic and parking on Waterfront Drive be addressed immediately demonstrating to the community that something is being done within Callan Park to solve a dangerous situation. Cars, walkers, bicyclists, prams, scooters all share this narrow and busy road. In addition, the need for a new parking area at the end of Wharf Road is imperative to solve congestion, particularly on the weekends when sports are being played at the Waterfront and Glover Street Ovals. This would generate considerable goodwill in the community.
No. 5 Priority Step-down mental health services
Callan Park is a therapeutic environment for people recovering from mental illness. FOCP supports the introduction of step-down services in the Wharf Road Cottages and is confident that such services will meet with enthusiastic community support.
No. 6 Priority Security
There is no security between 6pm and 6am onsite at Callan Park which continues to be damaged by vandals. (Broughton Hall, the CEWD and NSW Ambulance, by comparison, are occupied and secured therefore minimally vandalised.) Windows are smashed in every unoccupied building, fires are lit, buildings are broken into and copper piping stolen. Security must be increased generally and is imperative at night.
No.7 Priority No changes to the Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act 2002
Periodically changes to this Act have been mooted, changes which include demands for selling off portions of Callan Park and allowing commercial development. The Act has been seen only as “restrictive”, a simplistic response suggesting no examination of alternative uses for the buildings or potential sources of income have been undertaken.
FOCP strongly believes that Profit For Purpose organisations would be interested in using some of the buildings and the site; social enterprises could provide care and respite services.
We Help Ourselves, a current tenant on Broughton Hall which has made a capital investment in restoring buildings for contemporary use, is a proven example and model of a social enterprise which respects the site and functions with its ten-year lease. The safety net (for both tenant and site) of lease renewal is permitted under the Act. We Help Ourselves’ model is an exemplar of Profit for Purpose use of the site with benefits to the community and taxpayers that go far beyond the simple collection of rent revenues
FOCP urges the Minister to be decisive, to work collaboratively with the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces and ‘break down the silos’. FOCP looks forward to working with the Minister and to hearing what actions will ensue regarding these priorities.