Inner West Independent

Submissions to Inquiry into Bill impacting future of Callan Park almost due

Last year debate erupted over Callan Park following the NSW government's introduction of a Bill proposing a series of amendments to the Act protecting the park from privatisation. Photo: Eva Baxter.

By EVA BAXTER

Public submissions to the Upper House Inquiry into the Greater Sydney Parklands Trust Bill 2021 are open until January 16th.

Last year debate over the use of Callan Park, a parkland with 61 hectares of space including waterfront, sites connected to Country, and history as a hospital for the treatment of mental health, erupted after a draft Bill from the state government proposed a series of amendments to the Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act 2002.

The Act disallows any private or commercial uses on the site. The government’s proposed amendments included permitting 50 year potentially commercial leases in the heritage buildings, removing council as the consent authority and giving the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces those powers.

These changes are part of a wider scoping proposal aimed at parklands across Sydney including Centennial Parklands, Parramatta Park, Fernhill Estate and Western Sydney Parklands.

The debate culminated in Inner West Council former Greens Mayor Rochelle Porteous proposing in a Mayoral Minute that the council oppose any changes to the Act, any commercial uses at Callan Park and 50-year potentially commercial leases on the heritage buildings.

After Labor Councillor Darcy Byrne (now Mayor) put forward a number of amendments which were lost, council voted in favour of the above proposals as well as funding $6000 worth of corflutes and banners reading: “Not for Sale: Hands off Callan Park.”

Council also called for the retention of council as the consent authority and for the establishment of the Callan Park and Broughton Hall Trust.

In November, Greens MP for Balmain Jamie Parker’s amendments were won in the Lower House which included to prohibit the privatisation of Callan Park, give the council power to decide on DA’s, and allow arts and culture activities like festivals to continue.

An Upper House Select Committee was established to inquire into the Greater Sydney Parklands Trust Bill and explore the proposals of the legislation and community concerns.

Park parley

Individuals are invited to submit their comments until the 16th with the hearing set on the 27th.

Jamie Parker said, “this committee process is our best chance to convince them that locals want to protect green space across Sydney including Callan Park.”

Friends of Callan Park (FOCP) are urging people to make a submission.

“Whilst some protections for Callan Park were gained in Lower House in November,” said President of FOCP Hall Greenland, “these may vanish in the Upper House.”

Greenland outlines the dangers of the Bill include that management of all the parklands would be in the hands of one Board with members drawn from executives in the finance and property development sectors.

He also warns that the Bill would put pressure on the Trust Board to make the parks pay for themselves.

“With a Bill as defective as this, it needs to be withdrawn and recast so that the management of Sydney’s iconic parks is not top-down, centralised and commercialised.

“We need instead genuine community involvement in their management and government commitments to their protection and funding,” he said.

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