Inner West Independent

Callan Park dispute resounds regarding mound

Callan Park's Waterfront Green revitalisation is underway, but a structured mound has become a point of contention for community. Photo: Eva Baxter.


The Waterfront Green revitalisation is underway.

This is the first stage of parkland upgrades for Callan Park funded by the NSW government planning to transition Callan Park into an iconic urban parkland comparable to other iconic parks across Sydney.

Tyrrell Studios is the principal landscape architect responsible for designing the works at Waterfront Green. Tyrrell Studios has collaborated with several technical and design experts including Bangawarra Indigenous consultants and Cardno engineering specialists.

The design has been refined following public exhibition of the DA addressing community feedback to include softer landscaping, a reduced headland and additional shade trees.

However, aspects of the design continue to confound community, in particular plans for a headland mound.

Friends of Callan Park (FOCP), the community body safeguarding the park since 1998, said in correspondence seen by the Independent to the Chief Executive of the Greater Sydney Parklands Agency (GSP), “there is currently a difference in vision for the site that we hope with ongoing communication we can reconcile.”

Working with Bangawarra, Tyrrell Studios plans to reveal the original form of the headland that was buried by land reclamation and reinstate the landmark.

Mark Tyrrell, founder of Tyrrell Studios, said during a webinar on August 10 Bangawarra’s design intent is for the headland to become honoured as a level place to enact culture and to maintain close connection to Country.

“There’s a level change to be accommodated somewhere in this area and we think that a reinstatement of the sense of the headland is a very logical place to make this level transition,” said Tyrrell.

FOCP argue historical records do not indicate a headland at Callan Point, but rather a low lying slightly jutting spear into Iron Cove.

Remediation requirements

An impression of Waterfront Green. Photo: Tyrrell Studios.

Tyrrell cited remediation requirements for creating the mound.

“There’s a need for scraping back some of the soil and then capping it, and so there’s choices to be made on where to make those level changes.

“We’ve made that design decision informed by the Bangawarra input about the importance of this headland terrace at the level of the sandstone and we’ve made that level change in this single element.

“We see it as an area that people will recline on, sit on, walk up to have some prospect from and then maybe picnic on and use it in a variety of passive ways,” he said.

At the request of FOCP, contamination specialist Dr Bill Ryall prepared an opinion after reviewing the proposal by Cardno engineering specialists to remediate the Waterfront Green.

Dr Ryall prepared a Long-term Environmental Management Plan for Callan Park in 2009 for the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority to address protection of recreational users and maintenance workers on Callan Park in relation to the risk posed by fill materials impacted by chemical substances.

Cardno outlined a variety of remediation tasks, some of which Dr Ryall stated were not required.

Dr Ryall said the tasks outlined by Cardno that were not required included encapsulation of excavated fill material in a landscaped mound in the western portion of the site and stripping of topsoil across the site and emplacement in the engineered headland encapsulation mound.

“In my opinion, no remediation of fill materials on Callan Park is required because unacceptable risks have not been demonstrated to one or both of the health of users of the park and to the marine ecosystem of the Iron Cove,” he said.

He said these remediation works proposed for the site create a dangerous precedent that may lead to other unnecessary remediation works being carried out on fill materials containing heavy metals and other chemical substances that do not impact the health of users of Callan Park and do not pollute the waters of the Iron Cove.

Dr Ryall said required remediation tasks outlined by Cardno include the removal of and off-site disposal of identified hazardous materials; demolition of Buildings 505 and 514 and off- site disposal of the material; importation and placement of suitably validated fill material and topsoil to provide a suitable growing medium, including installation of new medium to depth for proposed tree plantings; survey and inspection of as-built works to validate the remedial works and development and implementation of a Long-Term Environmental Management Plan for the Site.

Design disagreement

Tyrrell Studios said in the webinar they envision the Waterfront Green site as being critical for passive recreation and plan to create a variety of different passive scales on the site.

“The point is that it’s getting that sense of elevation above the water and that it’s getting that ability for people just to sit with comfort on an edge and just appreciate being in this space,” said Tyrrell.

“We’re trying to be minimal with our interventions but we’re trying to make them very useable for people and meaningful when we do make a sitting edge and make them comfortable and make them appropriately scaled for this place.”

FOCP request Tyrrell Studios revisit their waterfront design and remove the mound, replacing it with a low sweep to the water where trees create the sense of glimpsed water views, and the space is broken by copses of native Australian trees.

Tyrrell Studios said in the webinar they were inspired by work done by Richard LePlastrier and Craig Burton on Georges Head Lookout.

“Callan Park is a remarkable place and is its own inspiration,” FOCP said, “let that predominate.”

The second stage of development in Callan Park includes upgrades to the seawall, Wharf Road, the Bay Run and for the carpark to be relocated away from the waterfront. The third stage will make Callan Point accessible, and the fourth stage will consider waterfront sports.

Landscape concept design of the Waterfront Green. ‘Headland Lawn’ is the mound. Photo: Tyrrell Studios.

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