By Emily Contador-Kelsall
Greens member for Balmain Jamie Parker will introduce to the NSW Parliament a bill aimed at securing the future of Callan Park this Thursday June 4 as City Hub goes to print.
Callan Park has long been a source of contention between the state government, Leichhardt Council and the community. The Friends of Callan Park group and Mr Parker have criticised successive state governments for neglecting the park and leaving it in “a state of limbo”.
Mr Parker said he was optimistic the bill would get through parliament this Thursday and ensure Callan Park would not be privatised.
“There’s been a battle of wills between those who would like to see the site privatised and sold off and those that are defending it and they’re at an impasse,” he said.
“The private seller [is] still hanging on and we have to ensure that we can quash that view by getting the Trust and the Master Plan implemented.”
There are three elements to Mr Parker’s bill, including the implementation of a Callan Park and Broughton Hall Trust. The Friends of Callan Park and Leichhardt Council have long been campaigning for the trust to be established to manage the historic park.
“The independent Trust, which is very important – it takes it out of the hands of government departments that see Callan Park as a honey pot rather than an important heritage and cultural and community site,” Mr Parker said.
Mr Parker’s motion also calls for the implementation of the principles of the Callan Park Master Plan.
Leichhardt Council approved the Callan Park Master Plan in 2011 and council formally presented these plans to the state government in the same year.
Despite council approving the building of the Callan Park Skate Park last month, a key aspect of the master plan, it is still yet to be fully implemented and acknowledged by the state government.
“[The motion aims to] ensure that the principals of the Master Plan are adopted and those principles, if you have a look at the Master Plan, include no sell off and no commercialisation of Callan Park,” Mr Parker said.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment is currently responsible for the Callan Park Act.
The Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act 2002, is “an Act to preserve the public ownership of Callan Park; to protect its current features and restrict its future use; and for other purposes,” according to the Callan Park Your Plan website.
Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the government is looking at a number of options to secure the long-term future of Callan Park.
“Callan Park is a vital heritage asset and provides crucial public space in inner Sydney. We are committed to a sustainable and funded future for the precinct in cooperation with the local community,” he said.
The University of Sydney’s College of Arts at Callan Park is another source of controversy, pushing the park’s future into uncertainty as the university refuse to confirm whether it will remain in the park of not.