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 Saturday described the new Powerhouse at Parramatta as the "jewel-in-the-crown" for the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.
The existing museum at Ultimo will complement the new future-focused Parramatta centre, Mr Perrottet said in the statement.
"What's most important is that the destination that we've reached is the right decision for the people of our state," Mr 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.
But the treasurer pointed to the announcement in May that the state government's infrastructure pipeline had been increased to $100 billion.
A statement at the time said the government was "looking at options to support the arts community at Ultimo".
"We made the decision at that point in time to be open to the future use here in Ultimo which we announced on that day," Mr Perrottet said on Saturday.
"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."
"This will allow us to provide an outstanding visitor experience in the areas of technology, science, engineering and design at two major locations," Ms Berejiklian said in the joint statement.
"It will mean far more people have access to many more of the amazing exhibits held by the Powerhouse and importantly, help us create vibrant centres to inspire learning in the fields of sciences and applied arts for the next generation."
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.
"The government will explore if some of the funds earmarked for relocation costs could be used on renovations," the 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".
"The decision to retain the Powerhouse museum at Ultimo should not compromise the investment we were promised for an iconic cultural institution in western Sydney," Mr Dwyer said in a statement on Saturday.
Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich said the debate should have "never been about Sydney versus Parramatta".
"The passionate community campaign to save the Powerhouse speaks volumes to its special significance to Sydneysiders," Mr Greenwich said in a statement on Saturday.
Public Service Association general secretary Stewart Little also welcomed the decision.
"This means hundreds of jobs in the culture sector are saved. It also means Australians can enjoy the rich cultural heritage that the Powerhouse has to offer," Mr Little said in a statement on Saturday.
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.
Australian Associated Press