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 was informed by feedback from consultation with the community over many years, focusing on what visitors value about Callan Park and what improvements they would like to see in the future.

Reflecting community feedback, the Landscape Structure Plan was refined and 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 NSW 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
  • progressive renovation of heritage buildings – Bonnyview, The Cane Room and the Repatriation Ward
  • approved plans for a re-design of Waterfront Green featuring new pathways, trees, seating and an expanded green space
  • approved plans for a new accessible amenities block to service Waterfront Green and the Bay Run
  • designs have been developed for a new car park at Wharf Road, and a DA has been lodged with Inner West Council.

In November 2022, the NSW Government committed a further $7.2 million in funding, taking the total budget to $21.2 million, which will see further delivery of the Landscape Structure Plan, including:

  • $1.7 million for the new publicly accessible toilets along the waterfront, a first for people with disability and users of the Bay Run
  • $2.5 million for adaptive re-use of the heritage-listed Building 497, providing a long-term home for the Balmain and District Football Club and new community meeting spaces
  • $3 million to rebuild the Bay Run between King George Oval and Waterfront Green, separating pedestrians from cyclists, and removing vehicles from the waterfront, currently a significant missing link on the Bay Run
  • the provision of a temporary replacement car park closely located to the Waterfront Sports field by recycling hardstand paving – this temporary car park will be in place until the permanent car park at Wharf Road is built, subject to council approval and funding.

Work to Waterfront Green has already begun, and views to Iron Cove have already been opened up. These improvements will create a fit-for-purpose waterfront area for public enjoyment, including areas for quiet relaxation, picnics, more shade trees, walking, jogging and cycling, new accessible toilets, bins and areas for dogs and their owners.

Coming soon, the creation of an interim car park and a well-lit accessible pathway off Military Drive will trigger the end of vehicle access along the Bay Run. This important upgrade will provide a missing link in the Bay Run by removing cars to improve safety and the experience of our visitors.

Waterfront Green will open early 2024, while work on the Bay Run will start next year.

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 car park.


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.

Waterfront revitalisation at Callan Park

Designs for the upgrade of the Waterfront Green have been finalised and informed by feedback from the community and Heritage Office. Highlights of the upgrade include:

  • an abundance of new shade trees
  • 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. The Bay Run will be realigned to separate pedestrians and cyclists from vehicles with a newly dedicated car park adjacent to Wharf Road.

Q What changes did you make to the Waterfront Green design in response to the feedback you received?

We listened to community feedback regarding the designs and made a number of modifications, including:

  • reducing the height of the landscape and rethinking the approach to changing ground levels
  • interpretation of the site's original shoreline in collaboration with Indigenous consultants
  • removing or reducing pathways
  • locating trees 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 planting
  • increasing the amount of seating and lighting to improve amenity and safety.

Q. Are you still proceeding with the mound?

No. The landscape design has been amended to better incorporate First Nations' stories and to interpret the original shoreline. The outcome will be a gently undulating space where people can picnic and gather, reflecting the parkland's topography and character.

Q. How long will construction take?

Construction at Waterfront Green has already commenced and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023.

Q. Why did you choose to begin construction in summer?

Construction is expected to take around 12 months, so there is no perfect time to begin the upgrade works. By commencing now, the new waterfront will be open next summer for the community to enjoy.

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

We will ask the community to help name the new space as the work progresses.

Q. Where will the off-leash walking areas be?

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 precautions be taken for the safety of dogs and children?

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

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

Ecological assessment has informed the 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 First Nation's considerations are included in the designs?

We have worked closely with First Nation consultants. Our strategy for the landscape is based on the Connecting with Country principles. It will focus on improving the story between headland and water, using materials that recall the sandstone outcrops of the area and use native species, which will increase biodiversity.

Q: Will you be removing existing weed trees from the area where the car park will be: Alexandria palm, celtis, camphor laurel, etc.?

Many trees in the area earmarked for the Wharf Road car park are listed on Inner West Council's list of environmental weeds. Many of these are being removed and replaced with native species. Some select trees that are large or mature are being retained and will be managed closely by Greater Sydney Parklands. We have designed the area to have 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 planting mature trees. The selected species will provide a much broader tree canopy within a few years.

Q: Will emergency vehicle access to Glover Street Fields be maintained?

Emergency access will be provided to Glover Street Fields.

Q: Will the canal be remediated?

Not during this stage of works, but it will be investigated in future stages.

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 costata, 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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