The NSW government has backflipped on its decision to relocate Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, more than five years after the announcement was made.
The industrial science museum in inner-Sydney Ultimo will not be closed and moved to Parramatta, but will stay open and operate along with the new Powerhouse facility planned for western Sydney.
The relocation was slated to cost between $420 million and $645 million, with the staged closure of the Ultimo site due to have begun on July 1.
A joint statement from Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on July 4 described the new Powerhouse at Parramatta as the “jewel-in-the-crown” for the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.
“What’s most important is that the destination that we’ve reached is the right decision for the people of our state,” Perrottet told reporters in Ultimo on Saturday.
“In a COVID world we’ve had to look at new ways of doing things.
“We’ll have a world class facility for the people of western Sydney, a world class facility here in Ultimo and that’s what our people deserve here in our state.”
In February 2015, a month before the NSW election, then-premier Mike Baird announced the controversial plans for the Powerhouse move.
“Now the government has reached a final decision that we preserve this site to ensure that the people of central Sydney maintain this great cultural facility here in Sydney.”
The government had planned to sell the Ultimo site for up to $195 million with these funds to be put towards the cost of building the new museum at Parramatta, the joint statement said.
Parramatta Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer said he is pleased the government confirmed it’s “still committed to delivering a world-class museum in Parramatta”.
Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich said: “The passionate community campaign to save the Powerhouse speaks volumes to its special significance to Sydneysiders,” .
Public Service Association general secretary Stewart Little also welcomed the decision.
The new museum in western Sydney will create more than 1100 construction jobs, 2400 indirect jobs, and employ hundreds more people once opened.
The state government last year said the Powerhouse Precinct in Parramatta was on track for opening in 2023.
Heather McNab in Sydney