The decades-long quest to put proper lighting around the Steve Moneghetti Track at Lake Wendouree is a step closer to reality, with the formal heritage approval process under way.
The state government-funded project, to be delivered by council, includes 225 new lights around the popular 6km running and walking track.
Each light will automatically turn on and off at certain times - documents submitted on council's behalf to Heritage Victoria note they would activate in the mornings about 5.30am, and turn off in the evenings.
This is exceptionally important to improve safety around the lake, particularly for anyone wanting to exercise or walk the dog after about 5.30pm in the middle of winter - potholes, puddles, and bollards in the middle of the track can all lead to injuries.
The heritage impact report includes detail on how the lights will fit in with existing lighting - there are streetlights above Wendouree Parade, and some lights in the Botanic Gardens and near the adventure playground already, but these are not suitable to actually light the track.
Lights from cars heading around Wendouree Parade - at all hours - can easily dazzle people using the track.
As well as the heritage report, a full arborists report into the health of trees around the lake and how they could be affected by the installation, and a full lighting concept report are included, as well as concept blueprints and designs.
The reports reveal a five-metre tall moss green design, which will contrast existing "lantern-style" lights in areas protected by the heritage zone, which follows advice from Heritage Victoria.
The lights will be "micro-sited" to avoid tree routes and existing infrastructure.
The heritage impact report notes the lighting will add "coherence" to the lake perimeter, and quotes from a 2020 architect's study - "(t)he addition of evidently beneficial infrastructure, at regular intervals, with consistent, dignified and contemporary presence need have no impact upon the appreciation of the heritage character, appearance and significance of the Lake and surrounds".
The report states "(t)he installation of the proposed light poles would not disrupt the aesthetic significance of the setting and spatial relationship between the Botanical Gardens" and "would not impact on the heritage character, appearance, or significance of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens".
"The existing absence of adequate lighting around the lake would continue to be prohibitive to its use with a reduction in utilisation and prevent the safe use of the foreshore area," it states.
"The social significance of the place can potentially be enhanced by the proposed lighting scheme increasing the utilisation of the area for social and recreational purposes by providing a safer space."
The report also notes council had to create a video to "clarify some of the misinformation that had been coming through the consultation" in early 2020.
City of Ballarat chief executive Evan King said in a statement there was no update on the timing of the project.
"The Heritage Victoria planning process, which is separate to council, includes a public notice period," he said.
"As council is not the deciding authority through the Heritage Victoria process, we are unable to speculate on timing.
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"We look forward to receiving a decision from Heritage Victoria in due course."
The lake lighting project was backed by both the Liberal and Labor parties at the 2018 state election.
The full reports are available on the Heritage Victoria website, with consultation open until August 10.
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