Identifying community hopes and aspirations for the future is a central part of developing the Community Vision and Council Plan/Strategic Plan for local governments. In 2022 Planning for Communities was engaged by Coolamon Shire Council in New South Wales to prepare the Community Vision, Council Strategic Plan and Access and Inclusion Plan. This project involved extensive background research and a wide-ranging program of community and stakeholder visioning and engagement. The project included on-line engagement with over 120 community members completing a survey, listening posts held in 14 communities, community visioning activities involving 333 school students from 7 schools, interviews with community leaders and health and disability agencies. A total of 654 community members were engaged in the process.

Planning for Communities supported Macedon Ranges Shire Council to implement the WalKyneton codesign process. WalKyneton is part of the Healthy Heart of Victoria Initiative focusing upon improving the health and wellbeing of communities in Central Victoria. In Macedon Ranges the Campaspe River Walk was identified as a key resource that could help to improve physical activity levels and the overall health of the community. Planning for Communities facilitated a co-design process with local community representatives to deliver an infrastructure and an activation outcome for the Campaspe River Walk. Key elements of the process were a series of guided workshops, evaluation of the codesign process, and the development of a toolkit to support Council in the future planning and programming of facilities. 

Policy development and service planning

Working with a large metropolitan Council, Planning for Communities completed a review of Youth Services delivered by Council. This involved identifying the current service scope, capacity and model, examining the drivers and factors impacting upon the service and exploring alternate service delivery models. Using this information and through extensive consultation with Council officers, Planning for Communities identified a preferred service delivery model to respond to current and future community need, and outlined the resourcing and service implications of the model.  

The live music industry is a valuable contributor to local communities, strengthening local economies, creating more liveable communities and improving social outcomes. Working with the MAV and Creative Victoria, Planning for Communities developed a toolkit to assist local government to support live music within their local communities. The project involved working with an extensive range of stakeholders including live music operators, State Government agencies, regulators and local government to identify what was needed to support local government and the live music industry. The toolkit has been such a success it has been mirrored by other states. 

Community and social planning

Planning for Communities developed an Early Years Plan for a rural Victorian municipality. The project involved extensive community and stakeholder engagement, assessment of existing early years infrastructure, identification of future service needs and development of alternative service delivery models. The project identified impediments to families accessing early years services, opportunities to improve the service system and to improve coordination within the region.

In partnership with Sport and Leisure Solutions, Planning for Communities undertook a Needs Analysis to guide the future planning and development of facilities and services at the Monash Aquatic and Recreation Centre. Key aspects included extensive consultation and engagement with existing and potential users of the Centre, an assessment of the demographic profile of the community, and a detailed analysis of current programs, operations, conditions and users of the Centre. The project was extended to explore alternate pricing models for Council’s aquatic and leisure centres, with the primary aim of having a more equitable model and making the centres genuinely accessible for all members of the community. 

Community infrastructure planning

Planning for Communities is engaged to provide ongoing support for the transformative development of the Prahran Town Hall as a community and cultural asset. The project has involved an assessment of demand and the feasibility of various options and alternatives, preparation of funding applications, pursuit of partnership opportunities, involvement in the design process and the development of operational planning requirements, management and governance models. The total project cost will be $30 million and funding of nearly $11 million has been secured through government grants and a low interest loan. When completed, the facility will offer highly valued library, performance, rehearsal, function, office and customer service spaces to support the rapidly growing population in the Prahran, Windsor and South Yarra communities.

Prahran Town Hall Redevelopment, Stonnington City Council
Design: Williams Ross Architects

Corporate and business planning and facilitation

Planning for Communities has undertaken business and strategic planning for many neighbourhood houses, community centres and community organisations. The support we provide may involve facilitation and consultation with boards and committees, reviewing current operational and financial performance, assessing community needs and emerging challenges and opportunities. The preparation of a new strategic or business plan aims to position the organisations for future sustainable success, meet the requirements of funding bodies and partners and align activities to community needs.

Business development

Planning for Communities conducts benchmarking and industry analysis to identify best practice and alternative approaches and service models. Recent assignments have looked at customer service delivery, libraries, early years services and recreation and aquatic centres. Our approach is informed by detailed data on best practice, supporting strategic responses to current and emerging community needs and future planning for facilities and programs.

Applying for funding and support from state and federal governments and their agencies is an art and a science. Planning for Communities has expertise and proven methodologies in preparing applications that respond to the intent and objectives of funding programs, meet the requirements for valid applications and include strategic evidence to support the application. We have enjoyed significant success in securing funding to support the delivery of facilities and programs to build communities and promote wellbeing.

Planning for Communities offers mentoring and support for leaders and team members to encourage strategic thinking, effective report writing and confident project management. Our practical approach gives confidence to clients and develops the individual not only for the current job, but also for the future.