Inner West Independent

Callan Park’s $14 million dollar revitalisation project breaks ground

Heritage buildings are being renovated, two intrusive buildings on the waterfront will be demolished from mid-August, and designs have been developed for a major revitalisation of the waterfront. Photo: Eva Baxter.

By KATELYN MILLIGAN

Work has begun on the government’s $14 million revitalisation project at Callan Park.

Renovations of key heritage buildings are near completion, and demolition is set for two dilapidated buildings on the waterfront in mid-August.

The buildings were deemed non-heritage and intrusive and their removal aims to open up the parkland and its waterfront views, improving grass areas and facilitating recreational activities.

In a press release City Hub has been given early access to, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the government is delivering on its commitment to revitalise Callan Park with an historic makeover.

“For too long Callan Park has been neglected. This $14 million facelift is exactly what this treasured park needs and deserves,” he said.

“The community have been loud and clear – they want to see the waterfront opened up and revitalised and I’m pleased to announce these works as the first step in realising that vision.

“A shout out to Member for Balmain Jamie Parker and Mayor of Inner West Council Darcy Byrne in providing strong and consistent support for their local community’s vision for a restored and more accessible Callan Park for everyone to enjoy,” he said.

Greater Sydney Parklands Chief Executive, Suellen Fitzgerald, said in the press release the Callan Park upgrade is a testament to the successful partnership between government, local council and park users.

“The consultation confirmed the community and those who use the park are united in their desire to see the Callan Park waterfront transformed and become more accessible.

“Revitalising Callan Park is a great example of what our new city-wide, holistic approach to parks management can achieve at a local level,” she said.

An impression of the $14 million dollar waterfront revitalisation. Photo: NSW government

Patchy park past

Balmain MP Jamie Parker has been a key facilitator of the project, consistently advocating for the revitalisation since he was first elected in 1999.

“Over the years we’ve been able to defend Callan Park from overdevelopment and from commercialisation and we now have an opportunity to invest in Callan Park for the first time in decades,” Parker told City Hub.

The recent development comes after community concerns over the discreet hand over of 62% of Callan Park to Centennial Park Trust, fragmenting management of the parkland to a committee of corporate-minded individuals.

Community groups, such as Friends of Callan Park, and the Inner West Council have maintained their stance that governance and management of the park should be under a single, local body composed of expert members in park management and heritage, with First Nations representation to prioritise local concerns.

Parker supports this notion, believing that whilst the Callan Park Act bans the commercialisation of Callan Park, effective care is needed.

“The effective care, control and management of Callan Park is what we need, and a trust made up of members of the community, local stakeholders, local council, parents, experts, we believe is the best way to manage Callan Park into the future.”

The heritage parkland in Lilyfield was previously the site of a psychiatric hospital and holds significant historic value. There are over 130 buildings and structures on the site, including active sites such as Ambulance NSW, three sporting fields and University of Tasmania.

Callan Park’s waterfront as of August 12th. Photo: Eva Baxter.

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