Progress and Pressure on Callan Park

May Update from Jamie Parker MP

During this pandemic so many of us have come to rely on Callan Park as a place to escape the house, exercise with the dog, or let the kids run.

Anyone who visits this site have likely seen the repairs and maintenance happening on site and heard the news that Sydney College of the Arts vacated the Kirkbride last week.

I want to update you on some important developments on the Kirkbride building, upgrades that are underway, and our plan to secure the future of Callan Park.

The future of Kirkbride

Sydney College of the Arts vacated the Kirkbride building last week and the government hasn't lined up a new tenant. 

We are in a pandemic so it is understandable that the Department of Health, who owns the site, has deferred the Expression of Interest (EOI) process to find a new tenant until June.

Expressions of Interest will be open from next month for a minimum of eight weeks when a new tenant will be selected.

In the meantime while the building is vacant, there will be urgent repairs and maintenance including roof and sandstone work. Security facilities have also been improved and there is now security on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

There is significant interest from universities and non-government organisations to take up the leasehold at Kirkbride. I'm pleased that this EOI will comply with the Callan Park Act which protects the site from development, commercialisation and potential sell-offs. 

Kirkbride is such a superb site that I have absolutely no doubt the government will be able to find a new tenant who can maintain and preserve the building into the future. The real question is, what happens to the rest of the site?

Progress at Callan Park

As you may know, we have been able to secure better funding for Callan Park. In this financial year alone, the government has committed $2.5 million to the site.

There are now three full-time project staff working on Callan Park in addition to security staff and grounds people.

We’ve recently seen new lighting installed at the Cecily St entrance to the Kirkbride building, repairs and maintenance to several buildings including the iconic former Chaplin’s Cottage and a range of heritage stone work restoration.

There has been approval for the installation of new lighting along the Bay Run and a conservation renovation plan is being undertaken for the heritage gates at Cecily St.

Even though the Sydney College of the Arts has vacated there are still almost 20 organisations operating on Callan Park - see a full list below. These organisations are making a great contribution to our community and all doing their bit to maintain and preserve the buildings on site.

Securing the future of Callan Park

As you know every win at Callan Park has been hard fought. The former Labor Government had approved plans to build over 1,800 apartments on the site and the Liberals proposed selling off huge chunks of the Park. 

Every time I visit Callan Park, I’m reminded that the absence of towering apartment blocks today is evidence of our combined success.

But now we need to redouble our efforts.

In the short term, we need the Landscape Structure Plan to be funded. This plan identifies intrusive and unsympathetic buildings which can be removed to open up the parkland and waterfront. It would relocate the foreshore carpark and eliminate the conflict between Bay Run users and cars.

The Landscape Structure Plan is only costed to $20 million and the government needs to fund it urgently.  

Longer term, we need to establish a Trust for Callan Park to champion the long term restoration of heritage buildings, maintain the grounds and restore the site as a centre for wellness. If you haven’t already, please sign the petition here.


Callan Park: Who and what is on the site 

There are almost 20 organisations operating on Callan Park including:

  • NSW Ambulance headquarters and main offices are located at Callan Park.
  • Sydney Local Health District operates a training centre and accommodation for nurses, midwives and health workers.
  • Rozelle Childcare Centre operates a pre-school on the site.
  • Writing NSW (previously the NSW Writers’ Centre) headquartered at Garry Owen House.
  • We Help Ourselves (WHOs) operates drug and alcohol therapeutic programmes based at Callan Park.
  • Foundation House (CFMEU) runs drug, alcohol and gambling rehabilitation programmes based at Callan Park.
  • University of Tasmania has a large campus on site, running nursing and paramedic education programs.
  • Mental Health Co-ordinating Council is the peak body for NSW community managed health organisations and is headquartered on the site. 
  • Red Nose Day has their NSW Headquarters at Callan Park.
  • After Care operated mental health and disability support services. 
  • Glover’s Garden is the oldest community garden in NSW and is located at Callan Park. 
  • Inner West Council leases space for sports storage, meetings and Refugee Welcome Centre.

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