The Castle Hill Showground will host thousands of community events for generations to come, despite reports that the Castle Hill Show will no longer continue, according to Hills Shire Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne.
Mayor Byrne described the financial collapse of The Castle Hill and Hills District Agricultural Society (Show Society) as incredibly disappointing, but said that Council should not be blamed for the failure of the event in recent years, with organisers not heeding Council’s numerous warnings to modernise.
“The Castle Hill Show has been held at the Castle Hill Showground for more than 130 years and Council was happy for the event to continue for generations to come,” Mayor Byrne said.
“Unfortunately it seemed the Show was resonating with fewer members of the community as the years went on. Council has been approaching the Show Society since 2007, urging them to modernise and warning them of the major changes on the way for that part of Castle Hill.”
“The Showground will soon be subject to a master planning process which will determine its future as a leisure precinct.”
Mayor Byrne said that the area surrounding the Showground was set to undergo a transformation with the Sydney Metro Northwest station currently under construction and increased residential densities on the way.
“Council has been in discussions with the NSW Department of Planning for the last few years about what is appropriate for the Showground,” Mayor Byrne said.
“While Council and the Department of Planning have a number of differences on what we believe is appropriate in terms of residential densities, we all agree that the Showground itself is going to be an extremely valuable community leisure precinct for our future residents.”
“As the area around the Showground changes, the Showground must respond. We want to find the right mix between maintaining open space and building facilities that can cater for performing arts, cultural activities, sports, animal activities, major events, community events and much more.”
Mayor Byrne said that while she hoped that the Castle Hill Show could continue, Council was not going to allow the previous arrangement to come back in force, with the Show Society basically allowed free rein over the Showground.
“Under the old licence arrangement, which expired in 2014, the Show Society controlled many of the buildings and open spaces at the Showground and used profits they generated from sub-letting the facilities to subsidise the Show.”
“That is not a sustainable way to run a community event and the fact is that the Showground should be controlled by Council, which has been elected by the people to manage community assets.”
“There have been many rumours going around that the Showground is going to be sold to developers. That is absolutely false.”
“The fact is that Council sees the Showground as a vital leisure space and the community will be consulted on the master planning process every step of the way.”
“There are many wonderful events on the horizon for the Castle Hill Showground, including a revamped Orange Blossom Festival and I look forward to working with the community on this.”