Cowells Lane Reserve in Ermington is a popular off-leash dog exercise area and is much loved by the community. It is approximately 15 hectares in size and includes creeks, a stormwater detention basin, a small playground, a Council-owned nursery, bushland, walking tracks and exercise stations.

Originally, dogs were only allowed off-leash in the central basin area, however in 2009, the off-leash area was expanded to include the whole of Cowells Lane Reserve.

Since the expansion, Cowells Lane Reserve has seen upgrades including the construction of a concrete circuit path, a playground upgrade, the addition of fitness stations and the upgrade of walking paths.

An increase in usage of the park over the years has led to biodiversity degradation, incidents with unleashed dogs and requests from the community to designate a fenced, safe dog off-leash area. In addition to this, the fencing around the children’s play equipment does not currently comply with the Companion Animals Act 1998 - Section 14, where dogs are prohibited from being within 10m of any children’s playing apparatus.

Council has reviewed the off leash area and feedback received during the March 2020 community consultation and has proposed to install a temporary fence to be trialed for six (6) months. The park will remain predominately as an off-leash area, whilst providing a clearly defined section of Cowells Lane Reserve as an on-leash area around the popular playground and parking area.

Our aim is to create a safer environment for all park user groups whilst ensuring that Cowells Lane Reserve remains one of Sydney’s best off-leash dog parks


What did we hear

The opportunity to provide feedback on the temporary fence trial was open for six (6) months and ended February 2021. Thank you to everyone who participated in this consultation. Your feedback has been used to decide on the next steps for Cowells Lane.

71% voted in support of the fence!

On this basis, Council is proceeding with the installation of a permanent fence in the same location as the temporary fence.

Next steps

From the feedback received during the consultation, Council has also decided to:

  • install a permanent fence
  • install a permanent water station near nursery that doubles as dog water bowl in off-leash area (near Council Nursery)
  • replace Betty's Bridge
  • install one new disabled car parking space and kerb ramp on Cowells Lane

Frequently asked questions

Council reviewed the Cowells Lane Reserve in order to meet our responsibility to maintain the City’s precious open spaces in a way that is welcoming, safe, and accessible to all of our community members. We are responsible for providing parks within walking distance to our residents that incorporate as many different uses as possible and to maximise the potential use of any one open space. Council has received complaints that the park is not accessible and welcoming to all, and we are working to address that.

Council undertook thorough analysis of the site and considered several configurations to inform the proposed concept design in addition to the review of feedback from the March 2020 community consultation.

The temporary fence trial location was selected because it retains a substantial area for dogs to play and exercise.


Council is seeking the community’s feedback on the temporary fence trial. Simply complete the 2 minute survey on this web page!

Submissions close on the 15 February 2021.

The feedback will decide whether the fence stays or is removed.