What is community-led planning?
In essence, community-led planning (whatever its form) puts the community in the driver’s seat to determine the outcome. Community-led approaches are being increasingly recognised and championed as the way forward in disaster recovery and management. Outside a disaster context, we have been advocating and using this kind of approach within place-based planning for some time.
When thinking of the IAP2 spectrum of engagement, a community-led approach very much sits at the empower end. Although in practice how much say the community has over the process and the outcome will depend upon the context and the project.
Community-led planning is also known as grassroots, locally-led or participatory planning – that is, very much a “bottom-up” approach. It is based on the underlying belief that communities know what they need and what is most important. They know their strengths and limitations and want to have an active say in what happens. Once co-ordinated, local communities are then much more likely to mobilise and achieve on the ground results – increasing their connections and creating greater resilience for future challenges.
For councils, sometimes it can be hard to let go of control over the process and outcome of the project. It takes trust, strong relationships and a bit of bravery!
Community-led planning resources
So, if you are keen to try a community-led approach, where do you go to find information and inspiration? In recent years, we have undertaken community-led projects for:
- site specific master plans to upgrade community facilities
- place based strategic plans for local towns and villages
- disaster recovery and resilience plans (both post bushfires and in response to the COVID pandemic).
Here we share some resources to help get your next community-led project on its way.
Placed based planning resources
If you are looking to try a community-led approach for a place-based project, then there are some great free resources in the guides from CoDesign Studio. These guides cover the community-led placemaking manual and provide case studies for successful projects.
Further afield, the UK has some fantastic resources on community-led planning initiatives. Take a look at the Community Planning Toolkit and the projects undertaken by Action With Communities in Rural England.
If you are interested in co-designing the process as well as the outcome, then check out this community-led co-design toolkit from Inclusive Design Research Centre.
Disaster recovery and resilience planning
In a disaster recovery context, community-led approaches are recognised and encouraged in the national disaster recovery principles. Most recently, the Sustainable Development Institute at Monash University has released a report on the importance of community-led approaches in a disaster context.
You can also find useful information at:
- IAP2 – Guide to engaging in disaster recovery
- RedCross – RediCommunities: Community-Led Resilience for Emergencies A guide & toolkit for communities
- Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience – Community Engagement for Disaster Resilience Handbook and associated guides.
We hope this provides some inspiration and guidance for community-led approaches. We are always on the lookout for new resources and case studies, so please get in touch if you have one to add or would like to talk about using this approach in your next project.