Waterfront revitalisation at Callan Park

Greater Sydney Parklands manages 38 hectares of Callan Park, including the waterfront and central park areas.

Greater Sydney Parklands manages 38 of the 61 hectares of Callan Park, including the waterfront and central park areas (see Callan Park Management Precincts map [PDF 2.3MB]).

In 2020, a draft Landscape Structure Plan for Callan Park was put on public exhibition. The draft plan drew from consultation and discussions with the community over many years, focusing on what visitors value about Callan Park and what improvements they would like to see.

After careful analysis of the feedback provided by the community, the Landscape Structure Plan was refined and then endorsed by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes, in January 2021. The plan recommended a comprehensive revitalisation of the waterfront at Callan Park through:

  • removal of unsafe and intrusive buildings
  • restoration and activation of heritage buildings for community use
  • opening up views to the water
  • a network of pathways and more open space along the waterfront
  • enhanced facilities for park visitors.

The State Government committed $14 million in funding to deliver the Landscape Structure Plan in January 2021, with works now underway in a number of areas, including:

  • Demolition of 2 intrusive buildings on the waterfront.
  • Renovation of a number of heritage buildings - Bonnyview, The Cane Room and the Repatriation Ward.
  • Design development for a revitalisation of the waterfront - a Development Application (DA) has been lodged with Inner West Council (IWC) and publicly exhibited, and the designs are being refined following Heritage Office feedback.
  • Designs have been developed for a new car park at Wharf Road, which were presented to the community in a public webinar. Next steps are for the DA to be lodged and publicly notified by the Heritage Office and IWC.
  • Two designs were developed for a new amenities block on Waterfront Green with the community voting for a preferred design. The preferred 'Forest Pavilion' design has been lodged with the Heritage Office and IWC as a DA to be determined in the near future.

Greater Sydney Parklands is committed to consulting with the community every step of the way and has held a number of webinars and community information sessions to reveal designs. Below are links to webinars that have been held already that reveal the designs and community questions and answers.

View webinar

You can also view the presentation for the amenities and carpark.


The recording of the first webinar held on Tuesday 10 August, is still available if you missed out: Callan Park Waterfront revitalisation–Community webinar 10 August 2021.

View webinar

New view lines of the harbour and waterfront have opened up following the demolition of two intrusive buildings, 505 and 514, in October 2021. The area remains fenced off until the waterfront green landscaping work is complete.

Callan ParkIn April 2017, Callan Park was listed on the NSW State Heritage register. Greater Sydney Parklands is committed to protecting, restoring and enhancing the heritage buildings and landscape of Callan Park.

Details about heritage building restoration works can be found at Restoring Heritage Buildings.

Greater Sydney Parklands is working with the Minister's Stoneworks Program to restore the park's Main Gates on Balmain Road near Cecily Street and the original Gate House (building 394). The gates have exceptional heritage value, as they were designed by the 19th Century Government Architect, Charles Barnet. The works are nearing completion and an official opening will be announced shortly.

Designs are being finalised, following community and Heritage Office feedback, for an upgrade to Waterfront Green. Highlights of the upgrade include:

  • 104 new shade trees
  • ground cover native plantings that reflect the Indigenous landscape
  • new lighting and pathways
  • interpretation of the pre-colonial shoreline
  • new amenities building including accessible toilets.

Waterfront Green is designed to provide a generous area adjacent to Iron Cove for passive recreation, picnicking, walking, and informal gatherings. An accessible pathway will provide a new pedestrian link between Wharf Road and the Bay Run, while in a future stage of work the Bay Run will be realigned to separate pedestrians and cyclists and remove vehicles to a dedicated car park adjacent to Wharf Road.

Q What changes have you made to the Waterfront Green design in response to the feedback you have received?

We have listened to community concerns in relation to the designs and have made a number of modifications, including:

  • reducing the landscape's height and rethinking the approach to changing ground levels
  • interpretation of the site's original shoreline in collaboration with Indigenous consultants
  • removing or reducing pathways
  • increasing the number of shade trees - 104 new trees will now be planted to provide shade or to frame the views and 'edge' pathways. Trees will be clustered in groups or placed in avenue plantings to maximise shading over seating and pathways
  • adding more native ground cover
  • increasing the amount of seating and lighting to improve amenity and safety.

Q. Why are you still proceeding with the mound?

We are continuing to work through the feedback from the community and the NSW Heritage Office, as the designs are being finalised. We are continuing to look at the landscape's ground levels to ensure the picturesque waterfront setting of Callan Park and views of the water are enhanced, and the opportunities for people to connect with Country are strengthened.

We continue to consult with the Heritage Office and Inner West Council as we finalise the plans.

Q. What opportunities are there for the community to participate in the naming of spaces as they are revitalised?

We will be inviting ideas for naming areas as the implementation of the Landscape Structure Plan progresses. The first opportunity will be later in 2022, when we will be seeking the community's input to name Waterfront Green.

Q. Where will the off leash walking areas be?

A draft Companion Animal Management Plan (CAMP) was recently on public exhibition, with hundreds of submissions received. These submissions are being taken on board as the Companion Animal Management Plan is being finalised and will be shared with the community.

The design for Waterfront Green includes dog drinking stations, shaded areas for dogs and their owners to stay cool in summer, and tie up stations outside the toilets to keep dogs safe while their owners use the amenities.

Q: Will there be precautions taken for the safety of dogs and children?

Yes. Slowing down vehicles, creating a pedestrian-dominated environment, separated footpaths alongside roads, and providing planted edges to the road will improve safety and reduce conflict between vehicles and dogs and children.

Q: Has there been any assessment of wildlife/habitat to ensure protection?

Ecological assessment has informed the first stages of Waterfront Green upgrade and a broader park-wide ecological management plan will be prepared in the future. This plan will inform the ongoing regeneration of bushland in Callan Park and guide the efforts of Greater Sydney Parklands to increase biodiversity across the site.

Q: What Aboriginal considerations are included in the designs?

We are working closely with Indigenous consultants who include traditional owners of this land. Our strategy for the landscape is based in the Connecting with Country principles we have developed together. This phase of work builds upon the connection with country principles from Stage 1, including improving the story between headland and water, using materials that recall the sandstone outcrops of the area, and using native species that increase biodiversity.

Q: Will you be removing existing weed trees: Alexandria palm, celtis, camphor laurel, etc.?

Many trees in the car park are listed as weeds on the NSW Biodiversity List. Many of these are being removed and replaced with native species. Some select trees that are large or mature trees are being retained and will be managed closely by Greater Sydney Parklands. We are designing the area with a net increase of trees and tree canopy.

Q: Are mature plants being planted or how long will it take for the trees to achieve that size?

Yes, we will be looking to plant mature trees. The species being selected will provide much broader tree canopy within a few years.

Q: Is emergency vehicle access to Glover Street Fields maintained?

Emergency access will be provided to Glover Street Fields.

Q: Will the canal be remediated?

Not in this stage of works, but it is on the plans to be investigated in the future stages.

Q: Has there been consultation with First Nations People regarding the built items and how they are connecting to Country?

Yes, we are working closely with our Indigenous consultants and traditional owners. Connecting with Country is a priority in all phases of landscape works along the waterfront.

Two designs were developed for new amenities on the waterfront and shared with the community in September 2021, with the 'Forest Pavilion' design being the community's preferred option. The design has been finalised and lodged with the NSW Heritage Office and Inner West Council, with the DA approval expected to be determined in the near future.

The location of the building was proposed and confirmed in the Landscape Structure Plan as the most unobtrusive location for a new structure on Waterfront Green. The location is aligned with the Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act 2002, requiring new buildings to be erected within the footprint and envelope of the existing buildings on site.

Providing an accessible toilet facility in Waterfront Green delivers a key priority of the Landscape Structure Plan.

The designs

Forest PavilionForest Pavilion, Callan Park
Simple Masonry buildingSimple Masonry building, Callan Park

The community was asked to vote for its preferred design at a community webinar. The poll results are below, which show the Forest Pavilion was the preferred choice. Work is now progressing to finalise the designs, which will go through a public exhibition process with IWC.

The results

Callan Park survey results

Designs for a new car park were shared with the community in September 2021 and are being finalised now. Highlights of the new car park include:

  • parking for 75 vehicles
  • new traffic circulation, kiss-n-ride drop off parking and disability parking
  • universal access to the Refugee Welcome Centre and the Glover Street Sport Ground
  • understory plantings to blend into the park
  • substantial tree planting, including a buffer screen of native trees to Broughton Hall
  • Waterfront Drive will be permanently closed to traffic.

Wharf Road will remain 2-way, while Military Drive will become a shared zone with a one-way flow of traffic up Military Drive to the intersection of Central Avenue, where 2-way flows will revert.

Q. How have you worked out how many car spaces you need and is it enough? What will happen when it's busy and there are no available spaces?

The number of car spaces proposed considers peak parking demand data, feedback from stakeholders, heritage constraints, and the desire to ensure the parking is integrated into the park. It has also been especially crucial to include a generous planting buffer between Broughton Hall and the car park, to preserve the significant trees and ensure no visual impacts on the curtilage.

The design concentrates the parking within a much smaller area than the current parking on Waterfront Drive, to provide more open green space for the community.

Parking will still be available along Wharf Road and other parts of the park including at Ambulance NSW on Balmain Road.

Q. What trees and shrubs will be planted?

We are using a variety of native trees and groundcovers to enhance the natural landscape. The design incorporates plantings that reflect the Indigenous landscape and build on the tree plantings on the site, such as lemon scented gums, Angophora costatas, blueberry ash, Canary Island date palms, scribbly gum, jacarandas and spotted gum. Groundcover will include Australian native wildflowers, flannel flowers, mountain devils, coastal rosemary and many others to achieve a diversity of species. Over 73 new shade trees will be planted in the car park alone to increase tree canopy in this space.

Q. What paved surface materials will be used for walking on, e.g. dirt tracks or concrete paving?

Paths in Waterfront Green are predominantly deco gravel with some concrete pathways. In Wharf Road and Military Drive, we propose to reflect the park's heritage, so the road surfaces will be bitumen as is currently the case. The car park spaces will be surfaced with permeable grid pavers and filled with deco gravel to increase water absorption.

Q. Will there be a separate bicycle facility adjacent to the Wharf Road entrance from Perry Street to the car park?

Not as part of this stage of the works. The priority is the waterfront, however, vehicles will be slowed along Wharf Road, making access to the park safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Q. Will Wharf Road be made one-way?

No, it will be retained as a 2-way flow of traffic. The new slow zone will dramatically reduce the speeds in which vehicles travel in and out of the waterfront.

Q. Will it be timed parking, and will we have to pay fees?

The parking will be free and unrestricted at this stage, similar to the other 2 car parks in Callan Park.

Q. Are all new design elements in keeping with the Heritage NSW significance values for Callan Park?

The designs are all grounded in a deep understanding of the heritage significance of the park as captured in the Conservation Management Plan and policies that ensure heritage values are conserved.

Heritage NSW has issued its consent for the removal of the buildings, which is currently underway and expressed its support for the proposals outlined in the Landscape Structure Plan.

The design for Waterfront Green incorporates the story of the casuarina garden as told to us by Bangawarra Indigenous consultants. We feel that it is important to strengthen the connections to Country and allow these connections to be re-made as an underpinning of the design approach.

Q. What is the timing of the next sequence of DAs?

The DAs for Waterfront Green and the new amenities block are lodged with the NSW Heritage Office and Inner West Council for consideration, with a DA approval expected to be determined in the first half of 2022.

The DA for the Wharf Road Car Park is on track to be lodged with the Heritage Office and IWC in April 2022.

The realignment of the Bay Run is still being designed with a DA expected to be lodged in the second half of 2022.

Q. During construction, what will the parking arrangements be? That area is used a lot for parking during game days.

A Traffic Management plan will be developed to ensure the safety of park visitors and access to the waterfront is maintained. There will be some changes to the parking and access, and these will be communicated well in advance of any construction taking place.

Q. Is there potential for using Water-Ups or alternative?

There will be irrigation for the new landscaped areas, and we are still finalising what type of irrigation will be used.

Q: Can you confirm that the Broughton Hall internal roads will not be available for use as access?

There is no intention to use Broughton Hall roads for access through the park.

The Bay Run will be upgraded to enhance the connection with the waterfront and to improve accessibility and safety. The upgrade to the car park will remove vehicles from the Bay Run and will facilitate these important changes to the Bay Run. Further detail on the design will be made public as it progresses.

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There will be several further stages to implement the priorities of the Landscape Structure Plan. Works will include an accessible amenities block, a new at-grade car park at the end of Wharf Road, realigning the Bay Run to remove cars and the pinch-point at the canal, and making much-needed repairs to the seawall.

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