The final stage of the plan to repatriate 41.4 ha of former Defence land at Headland Park, Mosman to community uses is nearing completion, Senator Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, said today.

Announcing the proposed rejuvenation of a disused former transport depot and army training and accommodation facility at Middle Head, Senator Birmingham said the majority of the area would be landscaped as open recreation space offering spectacular views of Sydney Harbour and Middle Harbour from the Spit to the Sydney CBD, lookouts and walking trails.

“Over $3.5 million will be invested to create an extensive area of new public parkland at Middle Head for the benefit of the community,” Senator Birmingham said. “The parkland will include spectacular lookouts, new walking tracks, landscaped public spaces and the installation of picnic and barbeque areas.”

Senator Birmingham also announced that the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and the Federal Minister for the Environment have granted final approvals to an 89-bed aged care home and dementia day-care service that will serve elderly members of the community including former Defence service people and their families.

By remodelling the cluster of redundant former defence buildings known as 10 Terminal, the new aged care facility was determined to provide the best adaptive reuse solution for the site and address a shortage of aged care facilities on Sydney’s lower north shore.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of over a decade of dedicated work by the Harbour Trust to transform disused former Defence land into an award-winning example of public open space, heritage preservation and creative adaptive reuse that meets the community’s needs,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Since work began in earnest at Headland Park 14 years ago, over 40 hectares of the site has been opened up for public use. Most of this was land that the community had been previously unable to access.

“An extraordinary range of public facilities have been created at Headland Park. The public now enjoys spectacular harbour look-outs, outdoor walking trails and interpretation of historical military features. There are also a range of cafes and restaurants, sporting facilities, a men’s shed, an artists’ precinct, gym, child care centre, dance school, and a marine research institute and a wide variety of commercial tenants. 

“A large number of buildings at Middle Head have been renovated and leased out to 118 commercial and community tenants, while also expanding parkland access.”

“This is a remarkable achievement of conservation of a historic place for everyone to enjoy. Now another part of the community – the elderly and their families – is being invited into Headland Park to enjoy its vantage point in the world’s most beautiful harbour. 

“The new aged-care facility at Middle Head follows the same model that the Harbour Trust has successfully adopted elsewhere at Headland Park: the buildings are leased for uses that fit well in a parkland setting and the area around the buildings is upgraded for public access and enjoyment. This is a successful reuse of the buildings to serve an important public good. It will meet the area’s growing need for aged care, set within public parkland open to all. 

“The Department of the Environment’s assessment found that any potential heritage impacts could be avoided or satisfactorily mitigated. The development will preserve significant parts of the existing building fabric as part of its adaptive re-use,” Senator Birmingham said.

“At its most recent meeting, the Board of the Harbour Trust approved the proposed development, subject to conditions,” said the Harbour Trust’s Executive Director Geoff Bailey. “Our planning assessment found that the proposal was consistent with the Harbour Trust’s Act and Plans and the conditions we’ve placed on the approval minimise heritage impacts and maximise public amenity.

“Priority for 11 per cent of the places at the aged care facility will be given to former service personnel and their spouses. The local community will also benefit from a daily minibus service that will pick up and drop off elderly local residents using the dementia day-care centre.”

The Harbour Trust will now commence public consultation around the creation of a new area of expanded public parkland at Middle Head.

“The public feedback during the exhibition period indicated a strong desire to remove the two-storey timber barracks buildings on the northern side of Middle Head Road,” Mr Bailey said.

“We’ve listened to the community and decided to do this so we can transform the area to become part of a continuous stretch of public parkland from HMAS Penguin to the tip of Middle Head. The new parkland will create spectacular look-outs across Middle Harbour and introduce a new network of walking tracks.

“Our model at Headland Park has struck a successful balance in preserving the site’s natural beauty and military heritage. We have created a thriving urban parkland that is home to a diverse range of uses and is highly valued by local residents and visitors alike. We look forward to welcoming Middle Head Health Care into our community of tenants,” Mr Bailey said.