Will the ‘longest running battle in the Inner West’ end?

Non-profit organizations could operate cafes and other eateries in Callan Park in Sydney’s west, after a bill easing restrictions on commercial activity was passed by the NSW Legislative Assembly last week.

Debate on the future of the park will take place next year after the Senate Legislative Council referred to government legislation to create a new super agency to direct Sydney’s great parks to a selected parliamentary committee for inquiry.

Only Non-Profit Organizations Would Be Allowed To Enter Into Long-Term Leases Of Up To 50 Years To Operate At The Kirkbride Complex In Callan Park.

Only non-profit organizations would be allowed to enter into long-term leases of up to 50 years to operate at the Kirkbride complex in Callan Park.Credit:Kate Geraghty

It represents the latest chapter in the long-running battle over the type and extent of development allowed in Callan Park, a wild and largely derelict 60-acre park in Lilyfield with more than 130 buildings.

NSW MPs passed the Greater Sydney Parklands Trust Act last week to make it easier for art, culture and food and drink options in Callan Park. Opponents had raised the alarm that draft legislation allowing for-profit commercial businesses and long-term leases on the site would paving the way for commercialization.

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However, the bill passed with several amendments allowing buildings in the park – such as the Kirkbride complex, Broughton Hall and the “recovery cottages” – to be rented by non-profit organizations for education, arts and culture, food and drink, health and community facilities.

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the changes would mean commercial arts and cultural events, such as the Laneway Festival music event or an evening cinema, could also take place in the park.

Mr Stokes said while the bill was still pending in Parliament, it could use the buildings for “purposes the community is passionate about”, including community services, arts and cultural activities or cafes.

Balmain MP Jamie Parker, who pushed for the changes, said they ensured Callan Park kept its original purpose as a hub for nonprofit, healthcare and education, rather than becoming a “glorified business park”.

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