[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″ offset=”vc_col-lg-1/5 vc_col-md-1/5 vc_col-xs-1/5″][us_image image=”81825″ size=”thumbnail” align=”left” style=”circle” has_ratio=”1″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/12″ offset=”vc_col-lg-4/5 vc_col-md-4/5 vc_col-xs-4/5″][vc_column_text]By Annette Madjarian[/vc_column_text][us_post_date][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In its biggest single project ever, Hornsby Shire Council will push ahead with a $130 million overhaul of Hornsby Park, at the site of the former Hornsby Quarry, starting with a 400m canopy skywalk and cable bridge linked to the Hornsby Town Centre.
At its meeting on 8 March, Councillors voted to dramatically transform Hornsby Park into what will be a $130 million-plus “major recreation destination”, as per Council’s Master Plan adopted in July 2021.
Council said “following extensive groundworks at the site”, it had responded to the “community’s desire to be able to visit and enjoy the site as soon as possible by committing to deliver the first stage of the project”, an impressive canopy skywalk and cable bridge through the trees, set to open to the public in 2024.
Costing some $28 million, the attraction will feature the canopy skywalk (pictured below) and cable bridge linking Hornsby Town Centre with the site of the old Crusher Plant on a fully accessible pathway immersing visitors into the bush.
At the same time, Council will develop the area around the former Crusher Plant with a lookout, a lawn and play area, car park, and amenities. Council also plans to include additional bushwalking tracks and trails which would lead to two more lookouts to the west and north-west of the site.
The former Quarry is located about 1km west of the Hornsby town centre – it features 60 hectares of bushland and open space. Council has already spent some $22 million on earthworks and rehabilitation at the site.
According to Council, the Quarry was operating as a private business until 2002 before it became unprofitable. Council was legally obliged to buy the site from CSR Limited, paying $25 million, though it later recovered $9 million from legal proceedings.
The former Quarry is the largest volcanic diatreme in the Sydney region. The bushland on the site is also significant and includes blue gum high forest, which is listed as an endangered ecological community.
The Higgins family cemetery is located on the site and is listed as a heritage item of state significance, with burials ranging from 1875 to 1925.
Hornsby Shire Mayor Philip Ruddock said Council had been “working hard behind the scenes to make the site safe and preparing it for future uses”.
“While the project as a whole will develop over time, we are excited that this new skywalk will give people to the opportunity to experience this unique destination of outstanding natural beauty and see this huge project taking shape.”
“Delivering the project within a financially responsible framework is critical and we have worked with staff to ensure that we have safeguards in place to minimise any risk,” the Mayor said.
However, there has been some conjecture from the community, mainly about whether Council has enough funding to see the ambitious development through.
“Hornsby residents expect better fiscal responsibility, particularly after Council has just ignored its ratepayers and proceeded with an application to increase rates by over 30 per cent,” Protecting Your Suburban Environment spokesperson Jan Primrose said.
Council told the Galston, Glenorie & Hills Community News that “cost escalations and refinement of the design” would likely push up the estimated $130 million to be spent on the project. “However, until the final time frames for delivery of future stages are understood, it’s not possible to update the estimate at this stage”.
As part of its decision, Council plans to hold a workshop “on the outcome of the commercial partnership market analysis for the Hornsby Park/Quarry lands to ensure that Council continues planning for future activities on the site that may be funded through commercial partnerships and other funding sources”.
For more information about Council’s plans, go to www.hornsbypark.com.au[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]