The City Renewal Authority will spend nearly $2 million on new community facilities as part of its plans for a safer and revitalised Haig Park.
A development application says the CRA has engaged SMEC to repurpose the former maintenance depot in Braddon that was previously used by ACT Parks and Conservation, and Transport Canberra and City Services, and build a new community activity centre next to it.
SMEC will also build a connecting pergola, a new outdoor plaza and install permeable paving.
The $1.86 million project aims to meet a high sustainability standard and will be built from recycled materials, including Canberra red bricks, reclaimed timber, terracotta screening, insulation material and double-glazed windows.
It will also include natural cross ventilation and passive solar design, water harvesting and screening on the western façade.
The proposed design features storerooms, an outdoor work area, meeting rooms, office, community room, a multipurpose space with kitchenette and toilets, as well as landscaping with outdoor seating and gathering areas.
There are three buildings on the site – the former depot building and two ancillary sheds – a concrete car park for maintenance vehicles and surrounding security fencing.
An informal gravel car park is located outside the site to the northeast which is accessed by a concrete driveway from Henty Street.
The depot will be partially demolished, while the sheds, blockwork walls, fencing and gates and concrete pavements will go.
The development will include a new water tank and landscaping, while around the site there will be new landscaping, pavement and footpath linking an accessible car parking space on the Henty Street verge to the existing path. There will also be a new loading zone on Henty Street.
A gravel car park, including a street tree in poor condition, concrete driveway and kerb cross over off Henty Street will be removed.
A Statement of Heritage Effects (SHE) prepared as part of the design process found that the proposed buildings would not adversely affect any heritage values within the project’s footprint.
The SHE includes an assessment of tree impacts by a qualified arborist, a Tree Protection Plan and an assessment of the proposal’s compliance with the approved Haig Park Conservation Management Plan.
When announcing the project in November, CRA CEO Malcolm Snow said the design had been shaped by extensive community engagement that had identified several new ideas for the park.
“Building on the community’s feedback and ideas, we’ve created a simple but robust design that adapts and reuses the former building, including flexible spaces able to host community activities such as gardening, painting, woodwork, playgroups and yoga,” Mr Snow said.
The centre is intended to open out to the landscape, extending into a semi-covered courtyard and incorporating an irrigated ‘village lawn’ and nature play space for toddlers.
In 2019, the CRA released the Haig Park Place Plan, which sets out a strategy to improve public safety, amenity and recreational opportunities in Haig Park while respecting and promoting its heritage value.
A key theme of the Place Plan is to improve public safety within Haig Park, which had a poor reputation, so that it can be used both day and night.
“This project aligns with the aspirations of the Haig Place Plan and CMP by invigorating a previously underutilised central spine to provide a vibrant destination for community engagement,” the DA says.
Haig Park spans 19 hectares to the east and west of Northbourne Avenue and features more than 2000 exotic trees.
Originally developed in the 1920s as an east-west shelter break to protect the developing suburbs of Braddon and Turner from wind and dust, Haig Park is listed on the ACT Heritage Register as a rare example of windbreak planting on a large scale, and it forms an important feature of Canberra’s urban landscape.