Win for Castle Hill Showground as others lose

THE Castle Hill Showground will be preserved after changes to the former Hills Centre station precinct were announced last week.

The state government announced the location of The Hills Centre precinct would be moved to the south-east to reduce the impact of the construction site on the showground

But The Hills Centre, a performing arts theatre built in 1988, will be demolished as part of the new plan.

The new station will be renamed Showground Station after a suggestion by the Castle Hill and Hills District Agricultural Society. The society's president, Peter Gooch, said the name change recognised the showground as an important community asset.

He said the society was very happy with the decision to move the station and construction precinct.

"Only two buildings [the stables with a small amenity block and another amenity block] will be affected with this plan — we got virtually everything we could have asked for," Mr Gooch said.

"At this stage it looks like we'll not only end up with a better facility but a train station close to us too.

"For a voluntary organisation to take this on and get what is best for the community . . . it was worth the fight."

Mr Gooch said they would have to make some adjustments for horses and parking, but the annual show would not have to be relocated during the construction period as previously thought.

The move was endorsed by The Hills Council with mayor Michelle Byrnes saying the plan would allow for a streamlined transport interchange while further protecting the showground.

"Relocating the station site away from the showground to council land honours the commitment by Premier [Barry] O'Farrell to preserve this important leisure precinct as a valuable community asset," Cr Byrne said.

The precinct's move means four community facilities that would have previously been demolished for the construction zone will now be preserved, with the new precinct to absorb The Hills Centre, which will be demolished, and The Hills Council Chambers.

Principal of The Hills Dance Factory, Gabriela Koumantakis, whose students perform annually at The Hills Centre, said it was disappointing for all the groups who use the site.

"We've got nowhere to go now — there's no other venue in The Hills," she said.

She said Parramatta was now the closest place for her group.

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