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Cash injection for Callan Park

Rozelle Hospital in Callan Park. Photo: Wikimedia

By ALLISON HORE

The NSW Government has announced $10 million additional funding will be committed to Callan park. The park in Lilyfield, in Sydney’s inner-west, has been considered “forgotten” and “neglected” and has faced threat from vandals and redevelopment.

Jamie Parker, Greens member for Balmain who has campaigned for the protection of the Callan park, welcomes the additional funding. He says it’s thanks to the efforts of community groups like Friends of Callan Park who have campaigned tirelessly to protect the space.

“Today we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Callan Park won’t be sold-off for apartments or further demolished by neglect,” said Mr. Parker.

“I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone in the community who has contributed to this win.” 

The additional funding comes as part of the NSW Government’s plan to bring together the management of all of Sydney’s parks into one super-agency, the Greater Sydney Parklands (GSP). The move will bring together the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, Parramatta Park Trust, and Western Sydney Parklands Trusts, as well as the parklands of Callan Park and Fernhill Estate. The department will be headed by Michael Rose, Chairman for the Committee for Sydney.

The agency will oversee more than 6,000 hectares of parkland in the greater Sydney area. 

Planning and Public Spaces minister Rob Stokes said it is “vital” that park management comes together to create a “network that forms the backbone of our city”, rather than be managed separately by trusts only concerned with the lands within the parks’ bounds.

“Our city’s parks are one of our greatest assets and belong to all of us; it’s time for a clear, single vision to protect, manage, enhance and expand them for generations to come,” Mr. Stokes said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how we need to change the way we look at our public spaces – not as parks in a city but rather as Sydney as a city within a park.”

Callan Park is the first park identified by the Greater Sydney Parklands as in need of urgent need of restorative work. The $10 million allocated will help improve connectivity between the park and the waterfront and to deliver the Landscape Structure Plan which aims to restore the park’s heritage buildings and landscaping. 

“This investment in Callan Park is just the start and demonstrates our commitment to revitalising and growing our city’s great public open spaces, starting with one of its great forgotten jewels,” Mr. Stokes said.

Mr. Parker says seeing Callan Park managed alongside more well known sites like Centennial Parklands “recognises that this beautiful park has always been one of the great parklands of Sydney”.

In May expressions of interest opened for tenants to occupy the Kirkbride precinct of Callan park. The precinct originally served as a home for mental health services and was developed by James Barnet and Dr. Frederick Norton Manning in 1885. It consists of more than 30 heritage listed buildings. Most recently the site had been occupied by University of Sydney’s Sydney College of the Arts since the 1990s, but the college departed from Kirkbride in early May.

In a press release, minister for Water, Property and Housing, Melinda Pavey said that the NSW Government “strongly supports the preservation of the Kirkbride Precinct and Callan Park” and finding a new tenant for the site would be “critical” in ensuring the revitalisation of the parkland. 

“We are seeking proposals on uses for the Kirkbride buildings that activate, energise and celebrate the heritage values of the precinct,” Ms. Pavey said.

“The future use of Kirkbride will play a critical role in the  creation of a vibrant urban parkland consistent with the Government’s Better Placed Design Guide.”

Expressions of interest for tenancy of the Kirkbride precinct in Callan Park remain open and the draft 50-year vision for Greater Sydney’s Open Space and Parklands will be open for comment until September 11, 2020.

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