15 February 2017

Call to comment on the Haig Park masterplan – again?

| Paul Costigan
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There’s a call by the ACT Government for residents to go online and to offer thoughts on the future of Haig Park.

Wonderful! Great! And yes – we thought we had already done all this.

Several years ago a draft masterplan was produced but it was never finalised. Maybe it was too conservative in its recommendations – at least that’s what I thought at the time and still do today.

Haig Park is potentially The Major green space for the inner northern suburbs. Sadly because this green belt was designed for another purpose, as a windbreak, it does not function well for the reasons it is required today.

This part of Braddon has rapidly transformed into an area for multi-storey apartments – and the pace of change continues (all good – well mostly good). This means these apartment dwellers are looking for a safe and friendly place to hang out, enjoy the greenery, and to do what groups or individuals like to do in open spaces. Haig Park is not that space just yet. It should be.

This could change. I urge everyone to go online (links below) and to have their say. Yes some of us have been through this exercise before and some of us have expressed our thoughts through RiotACT as well as in articles in other places. Oh well – such is life when dealing with bureaucracies.

What would you like to see in Haig Park?

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Here’s one good piece from the Fairfax Press – click here.

And here’s another very good one on HerCanberra – click here.

In the latter Philippa Moss includes a brief history, her recommendations for changes and an amazing list of previous planning efforts – most of which have yet to deliver.

I urge people to push strongly for major changes – and yes that will upset the heritage lobby. I suggest that over time that most of the regimented lines of tree should be removed and other trees in different configurations introduced. The number of trees should be maintained – but they should be a different range of species in very different groupings – serving different purposes. A giant wind break is not longer needed.

We need places with shade and others with open spaces for all manner of things as suggested in the articles mentioned above.

Gardens, shrubbery and a variety of walkways should be introduced, and as others continually suggest, spaces should be designed for a range of recreational activities, including spaces to sit quietly (not all activities have to be noisy).

Also my preference is that dogs should be restricted to certain areas so that the rest of us can just sit and muse and/or wander about without having to be on the lookout for creatures on the loose.

In short – Haig Park needs major changes to present a range of opportunities for locals and others to enjoy a set of wonderful open green spaces in the middle of this city.


Here’s the link to the ACT Government’s “Your Say” page on Haig Park.

Please do not hold back – get all your ideas out there – attend any sessions you can – and let’s get this green space redesigned (in a big way) as a major suburban space – with loads of choices on how you and others could use it.

Final points: Please do not get hung up on the name of the park – being named after some WWI British General. Yes I do have a problem with that but I would encourage the energies be targeted at getting the place less formal looking – those lines of regimented trees are just plain silly today! The debate on the name has been a distraction – get the thing functioning the way it should be and maybe the name change will happen later. Not a priority really – for the moment.

And yes – I am sure someone will mention the tram. The tram will make this parkland more accessible to more people, but that will only make sense when the parklands are not known for being dangerous and (at night time) spooky!

Haig Park should have a profile of being somewhere you could go day or evening – and feel safe and enjoy yourself being active, quietly picnic with friends and/or family or maybe just sitting alone reading a book.

This latest consultation closes late April 2017 – and there are stages and activities listed to the side of the online page. Over to you – Have Your Say.

And let’s hope they finish and implement this masterplan–very soon!

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Serina Huang said :

….I was shocked to learn that female friends who lived nearby said that Haig Park was colloquially known as ‘Rape Park’….

2016 – 97 sexual assaults in Canberra, 1 in Braddon, 0 in Turner.
2015 – 101 sexual assaults in Canberra, 1 in Braddon, 0 in Turner.
2014 – 87 sexual assaults in Canberra, 3 in Braddon, 1 in Turner.
2013 – 104 sexual assaults in Canberra, 1 in Braddon, 1 in Turner.
2012 – 123 sexual assaults in Canberra, 6 in Braddon, 0 in Turner.

How that translates to Haig Park becoming Rape Park I have absolutely no idea, but in this day and age belief in this sort of rumor appears not to affected by whether or not there is any truth to it all.

Serina Huang3:18 pm 01 Feb 17

I moved into Turner last week, so have started to travel through Haig Park to go to and from Braddon and Civic. I was shocked to learn that female friends who lived nearby said that Haig Park was colloquially known as ‘Rape Park’, and that she would never walk there after dark. I hope that whatever happens to Haig Park that it at least becomes safer and more accessible.

Charlotte Harper10:37 am 01 Feb 17

The Economic Development Directorate has just issued a press release about this. Here’s what it says:

Consultation starts on Haig Park master plan as safety upgrades get underway
Upgrades to respond to safety concerns in the Braddon section of Haig Park will start early this month while consultation has also begun on a master plan to guide future improvements to the park, Economic Development Director-General David Dawes said today.

“These upgrades respond to safety concerns in the park by providing a straight footpath with improved visibility through the park,” Mr Dawes said.

“Wider paths, increased lighting and line of sight through the park will improve safety and increase the number of people using the park.

“While these safety upgrades will require the removal of three of Haig Park’s more than 7000 trees, we will be planting four more in other parts of the park.”

The shared paths that link the areas of Braddon either side of the park will be widened and 26 new street lights will be installed. Trees will be no closer than two metres to the paths, and the tree canopy will be trimmed to increase visibility.

There will also be new park seating and picnic tables at the park entry points at Mort Street, Henty Street and Lonsdale Street.

Master plan to guide long-term park improvements

While the current upgrades are necessary to ensure the safe use of the park in the immediate future the government wants to hear from the community about how it would like to use the park in the longer term.

The master plan will be used to guide decisions on future improvements to the park that will allow Canberrans to get the best use out of this important public asset.

“As the bush capital, Canberra is known for its large green spaces and beautiful parks,” Mr Dawes said.

“Haig Park is one of these, in the heart of our city centre, but is currently underused and doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of the Canberra community.

“The ACT Government wants to hear how the community would like to use Haig Park so that it can prepare a master plan that sets out a long-term vision and proposes short-term actions to make the park more inviting and usable, while maintaining and promoting its heritage value.”

The master plan will also identify different ‘character areas’ within the park. For example, the Turner side is currently used more as a dog-walking space while the Braddon area is used as a thoroughfare by people walking to Lonsdale Street.

To share your ideas for Haig Park visit http://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/haigpark

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