NSW Labor has unveiled its plan to save Callan Park from a Baird Government push to commercialise the historic site, which has fallen into a state of disrepair since the Liberals took office.

The Baird Government has refused to rule out changes to legislation protecting the 60-hectare colonial-era site in Sydney’s Inner West that has been protected by the Callan Park Act since 2002. 

For the past five years the heritage site has been willfully neglected by the Baird Government which has facilitated buildings to lie derelict and in disrepair to such an extent that tenants have quit the complex.

A key tenant, the University of Sydney’s College of the Arts, is in the process of vacating the historic sandstone Kirkbride buildings, citing the financial burden of the ongoing upkeep and the Government’s neglect as a key reason.

The community is concerned at the Government’s failure to quash speculation that the Government plans to allow for greater commercialisation and possibly even development of the buildings. The existing Act protects the park from development larger than the existing built environment and quarantines the park for health, education and recreational purposes.

Today NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley, former Mayor of Leichardt Darcy Byrne and Shadow Environment and Heritage Minister Penny Sharpe outlined a three-point plan to save Callan Park.

It includes the following:

  • A pledge to uphold the Callan Park Act, implemented by the Carr Labor Government, to protect the park against neglect, privatisation or over commercialisation;
  • Establish an independent trust to manage Callan Park and ensure it is maintained as a significant regional park and heritage asset but that also manages appropriate tenants to provide an ongoing income stream for maintenance;
  • Secure the future of the Kirkbride Complex by attracting a long-term health or education tenant to replace the Sydney College of the Arts in the event of its departure.              

Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley 

“Under this Government’s policy of willful neglect a great state treasure risks falling into ever greater disrepair and facing possible demolition.

“We know from experience that absolutely nothing is off limits for Mike Baird who, given half a chance, would put a for sale sign up over anything that would provide him with a financial sugar hit.

“Like the Centennial Parklands and Parramatta Park, Callan Park is a living and breathing monument to our state’s heritage and it deserves better treatment than it is getting under Mike Baird and his development-hungry ministers.

“Labor backed by the community helped save Callan Park a decade and a half ago; we can do it again with the community’s help.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage Penny Sharpe MLC

“There is not a blade of grass that is safe from being sold off or turned into a commercial opportunity.”

“Callan Park is a place that needs protection and support not ongoing neglect.”

Quotes attributable to Darcy Byrne

"In the five years since the Government received the Callan Park Master Plan from Leichhardt Council it has not bothered to provide a written response to it.

"With dozens of heritage buildings derelict on Mike Baird's watch locals are fearful that the College of the Arts departure will see Callan Park become a ghost town.”