The ACT government is considering dramatic, moody lighting and public art to improve the appeal of Haig Park, as a decision on the redevelopment of the park appears finally to be drawing closer.
A new master plan for the park was prepared in 2012 but to date none of the suggestions to improve public spaces, paths and lighting have been implemented.
Now, design guidelines have been prepared, along with designs for new lighting, and plans to remove a small number of trees to open up the path through the park from Braddon.
Densely planted in 1921 as a wind break, the park is now heritage protected and the Heritage Council is considering the proposals.
The lighting strategy, prepared by Lighting Design Partnership, in Sydney, suggests "dramatic" lighting inside the park to highlight the shapes of trees and shadows and expose the interior of the park to people looking from the edge.
It also suggests feature lighting in different parts of the park to create "texture and interest", highlighting plants, furniture and artwork.
It says Haig Park could be home to artworks, "a gallery in the park", with artworks lit in different colours.
The entrances should be lit also, with "playful" lighting, including "catenary" lights hung from overhead wires and embedded lighting as a "welcome mat" on the ground.
And it suggests overhead lighting for the major paths. The status of the Lighting Design Partnership proposal is unclear.
Heritage Council chairman David Flannery confirmed the council was yet to approve the 2011 draft conservation management plan and was also considering more recent proposals to improve lighting and upgrade footpaths, including the removal of up to four trees.
Haig Park is planted in 14 dense rows of pine trees and cedars.
Mr Flannery said the heritage significance of the park centred on the trees and the council was reluctant to see any removed, but was alert to the issue of safety and the sight lines through the park from the top of Mort Street and the top of Lonsdale Street.
"The government's objective, and it's a good objective, is to try and create better vista and better safety for pedestrians and cyclists as they travel from one side of the park to the other," he said. He was working with the ACT government and the National Capital Authority and hoped for a solution soon.
Lobby group the Braddon Forum is hoping for funding in the June budget.
Spokesman Peter Conway strongly supports the lighting and development plan and said it would be wonderful to see the park opened up for community events, weddings and other functions.
But he suspected some of the delay was because of indecision about signs.
Named after controversial British WW1 commander Douglas Haig, Mr Conway said signs were to be installed explaining Haig's connection last year, but the wording had "gone through more subcommittees than the Treaty of Versailles".
"It's just taking a long time to come to fruition," he said.
The new draft plan suggests a better paved and lit entrance at the top of Mort Street, two main north-south lit paths through the park plus "secondary paths" made of permeable materials, and opportunities for "small scale transportable commercial activity" along the side of the park on Girrahween Street
The 2012 master plan, still a draft, suggested a "central activity node" in the Braddon section of the park. It recommended two "heritage integrity zones" - one at the Limestone Avenue end of the park and the other adjacent to Northbourne Avenue on the Turner side, where the original planting should be protected and replaced.