Monday, November 22, 2010

Planning Callan Park Sydney

On Saturday 20 November 2010 I attended the Final Master Plan Forum for the Draft 2010 Master Plan for Callan Park, Lilyfield, Sydney. The meeting was held on site in the Callan Park Recreation Hall (Building B504) Wharf Rd. Callan Park is the the former site of a Hospital for the Insane, which now used informally as a park and for community use. The site has abandoned overgrown buildings with atmosphere. The meeting was to report on plans for use of the site. The meeting was lively, with dog owners bringing their dogs along to lobby for continued use of the park for dog walking, a wildlife society having some feral cats in a cadge to show what these do to the native animals, various sporting groups arguing for playing fields, mental health groups, town counsellors and the general public.

Callan Park is about 42 hectares of prime real estate with a harbour views and so would be worth several hundred million dollars for residential and commercial use. However, the state government has agreed to give the land to the local council for community use. There are limitations on what the land can be used for, with building limited to the footprint of the former hospital buildings.

McGregor Coxall prepared the draft master plan and carried out the difficult public consultations. As well as the legislated limitations on use of the site, there are sensitivities of the local residents and existing users in and around the park. The NSW ambulance service has a large office on the edge of the park. In addition the Sydney College of the Arts (University of Sydney) occupies the former Callan Park Lunatic Asylum for the Mentally and Criminally Insane, on one edge of the site.

7 Development at Callan Park restricted

(1) The provisions of environmental planning instruments that apply to Callan Park are the provisions of those instruments that so applied immediately before the commencement of this Act, subject to this section.
(2) The consent authority for development applications relating to land within Callan Park is the council of the local government area within which the land is situated, despite any other Act or any environmental planning instrument.
(3) Development may be carried out at Callan Park, with development consent, for the purpose of health facilities and educational or community facilities, but development for the purpose of retirement villages is prohibited at Callan Park.
(4) State Environmental Planning Policy No 5-Housing for Older People or People with a Disability does not apply to Callan Park.
(5) Buildings must not be erected at Callan Park outside the footprints or building envelopes of the buildings that existed immediately before the commencement of this Act. However, this subsection does not prevent the erection of temporary structures.
(6) Consent must not be granted for any development at Callan Park if the development would result in:
(a) less open space at Callan Park than existed immediately before the commencement of this Act, or
(b) an increase in the total floor area of all buildings that existed at Callan Park immediately before the commencement of this Act.
(7) Development at Callan Park must not adversely affect the Broughton Hall Garden, Charles Moore Garden or Kirkbride Garden.
(8) In determining a development application, the consent authority must take into consideration the objects of this Act in addition to all other matters that are required to be taken into consideration.
(9) In this section:
"community facility" means a facility (not being an educational facility or a health service) providing services to the community on a not-for-profit basis.
"educational facility" means a university or any other facility providing educational services on a not-for-profit basis, but does not include a secondary school or a primary school. ...

The consultant's recommendations will be presented to the Leichardt Council for consideration in late 2010, then on public display fr comment in 2011, followed by presentation to the NSW state government. There is an extensive web site for public consultation on the plan, with details for the public meetings held and how to provide written comments or simply comment via the web. However, I was unable to find the actual "plan" which the public was being asked to comment on.

After the physical plan has been finalised, a business plan will be prepared. This planning process appears to be flawed, as the major limitation with the site is the inability to introduce new buildings and commercial development. As a result the major issue is how the site will be paid for. As a result the planning needs to start with financial issues, not physical layout. Also while environmental issues have been a consideration, there appears to have been no environmental planning, such as calculating the energy and greenhouse gas budget of the site.

The consultants have planned some interesting mixed uses, such as "wellness" facility, being a mental health centre for short term stays using the latest techniques (and very different to the prison-like conditions of the 1880s buildings). Some of the consultant's recommendations seem a little odd, such as a macadamia nut plantation (as part of a community run urban farm). But overall the recommendations are reasonable, given the limtiations placed on the site.

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