The Hills Council won't be ejecting anyone out of Castle Hill Showground, the deputy mayor has assured the News.
Cr Andrew Jefferies said any suggestion that the Castle Hill Players, Castle Hill and Hills District Agricultural Society and Nor-West Canine Association were "going to be kicked" out of the showground by council was "false".
"The current arrangements do not meet the needs of the greater Hills shire community and council will be presenting a long-term vision for the showground shortly, which includes these three stakeholders," Cr Jefferies said.
His comments follow last week's article in the News, Showground users wait to learn fate, in which Nor-West Canine Association president Ray Parker called on the council to verify whether the three groups would have their licences to occupy portions of the showground renewed by the council and ratified by the state government before August 19.
The council has allocated $140,000 towards a study for a leisure precinct plan at the showground and promises to make its licence decisions after the plan is released.
"There's going to be a railway station at the showground from 2020, which presents council with the opportunity to lead and assist to deliver a leisure, sports and event precinct that meets the needs of the wider community," Cr Jefferies said.
Mayor Michelle Byrne agreed: "There is a lot to consider before any decisions are made," she said.
"There is an extensive showground study under way, along with a cultural study, and we are also waiting to hear whether or not the area around the showground will become one of the NSW government's Urban Activation Precincts."
If it does, the Department of Planning will take over the planning process and fast-track the delivery of housing and amenities.
Asked if the annual Castle Hill Show would continue to be held at the showground, Cr Jefferies said: "The show is operated and managed by the Show Society and its ongoing operations and financial viability is a matter for the Show Society themselves.
"Council welcomes any initiatives that will drive the local visitor economy in the showground."
An extensive study into future uses for Castle Hill Showground is aimed at opening up the community facility to more residents and visitors, said Hills Shire Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne.
The Showground has served the Sydney Hills well over the last 100 years, but Mayor Byrne said it’s time to look at how it can be better used by the whole community.
“The Castle Hill Showground really is an under-utilised gem and we are going to look at how we can open it up to more residents and visitors,” Mayor Byrne said.
“The construction of the North West Rail Link and the Showground railway station presents us with a fantastic opportunity to really connect the Showground further to the Hills and greater Sydney.”
“There is a lot to consider before any decisions are made on the Showground. There is an extensive Showground study underway, along with a cultural study, and we are also waiting to hear whether or not the area around the Showground will become one of the NSW Government’s Urban Activation Precincts. All these things need to be taken into account before a decision can be made on the Showground.”
The Showground Station Precinct has been nominated to be part of the Urban Activation Precinct program along with Bella Vista and Kellyville stations. If successful, the Department of Planning will take over the planning process and fast-track the delivery of housing and amenities.
“Council intends to lead the way in providing a vision for the area. We need to ensure that this leisure precinct is enjoyed by more and more residents and helps to attract visitors to the Sydney Hills.”
Mayor Byrne said that until all elements in the equation came together, information on the future of the Showground would be limited.
“We don’t want to present the community with a half-baked proposal. This is about determining the future of the Showground for the next 100 years and beyond. We need to wait for all these processes to play out before we can make decisions.”
“This is about finding the best use for a leisure precinct that will capitalise on surrounding development and be serviced by a high-frequency train line.”
There will be a community meeting to discuss the future of the showground, with guest speakers, on July 23, 7pm (for 7.30pm start) in the Federation Pavilion, Castle Hill Showground, Castle Hill.
RSVP: Lyne Fuller, 9634 2632 or TCHSS@bigpond.com.au.