Plans for Hurlstone Agricultural High School to relocate to Richmond have been scrapped, with the NSW Government announcing a new centre of excellence for the area instead.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell announced yesterday (December 10) that the school would remain at its south-western Sydney site.
"We have ... consulted extensively on the existing Hurlstone Agricultural High School, and I am pleased it will now stay at its current Glenfield site as an academically selective, boarding, agricultural high school; keeping its name and receiving an upgrade to boarding facilities," she said in a statement.
The move was part of an announcement for the new centre of excellence in agricultural education at Western Sydney University's Richmond campus, and new selective streams of agricultural education at Richmond High School.
Ms Mitchell said the centre of excellence would be available to students across NSW for "intensive studies, regular visits or excursions from regional, metro and overseas students.
"This centre is the first of its kind, which is incredibly exciting," she said. "Students will also be able to apply for the new stream of agricultural education at Richmond High School through an interview process, based on a portfolio and interview which determines their interest and potential in agriculture."
The government announced in 2015 that a new agricultural, selective and boarding high school - called Hurlstone Agricultural High School (Hawkesbury) - would be built at Western Sydney University (WSU) Hawkesbury campus at a cost of about $35 million.
The school would have catered for 1,500 enrolments and offer accommodation for up to 300 students.
It was expected to be operational in 2021.
Western Sydney University Vice Chancellor Professor Barney Glover, AO, said the announcement for the centre of excellence was "a vitally important commitment by the NSW Government, particularly ahead of the opportunities presented by the coming airport and agri-tech initiatives across the Western Parkland City.
"Western Sydney University's commitment to expanding its world-leading science facilities at Hawkesbury, including a 6 hectare commercial greenhouse, is driving greater collaboration between TAFE, schools, researchers, and industry, at a time when it most needed," he said.
But Hawkesbury councillor Peter Reynolds, who contested this year's NSW election for Labor in the seat of Hawkesbury, said the move showed "contempt" for the area.
"When concerns were raised earlier this year about the apparent lack of progress, we were assured by local Liberals that everything was on track, that the school was in a pre-planning phase," he stated.
"[Now] we find that Hurlstone will remain at Glenfield, although bereft of much of its important agricultural land which has been sold for development.
"Families have made plans for schooling based on empty promises, taxpayers' money has been wasted, communities have lost out. Yet again, the Berejiklian government has exhibited its total contempt for the Hawkesbury."