Engaging Community

Any project that aims to change public spaces needs to involve the people that live in, work in and value those spaces. The project must be shaped by the community’s vision, built by their efforts and supported by them if it is to be successful in the long-term.

This chapter aims to tell the story of community engagement in Chippendale since City of Sydney Council commissioned The Plan in December 2010. It is very much a work in progress, but we wanted to give an update on where The Plan currently stands while we further develop a guide to community engagement. Each chapter of The Plan contains more specific content on the role of residents and businesses for each project. Deep community engagement will drive successful sustainable suburbs. We hope that you can learn from Chippendale’s experience and think carefully about what will work in your own community.

Chippendale residents planting edible gardens along the footpath

Chippendale residents working to plant edible verge gardens.

The Story in Chippendale so far

City of Sydney Council unanimously passed a resolution to commission The Plan in December 2010. In January 2011, workshops were organised to raise awareness of the project in the Chippendale community and involve them in its development. The Council arranged five public workshops. The goals were to:

  1. Involve residents, local businesses and traditional owners in the development of The Plan into council policy;
  2. Address questions and concerns from these groups and increase the level of knowledge about The Plan in the general community; and
  3. Promote and develop knowledge about sustainability issues in the local community, with expert presentations focusing on the different areas of The Plan.

Download City of Sydney Council’s flyer promoting their workshops and Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s letter to residents, informing them of The Plan’s development.

The Chippendale workshops featured an independent facilitator, a sustainability consultant (in this case Michael Mobbs), several local government staff (City of Sydney Council) and presenters. The presenters covered issues from composting to the urban heat island effect. The topics were diverse and not only formed the basis of discussions during the workshops, but encouraged continued conversations after each workshop had ended. Important questions that the organisers asked residents included:

  • “What’s currently working well?”
  • “What problems are there with current projects?”
  • “What are some ideas to solve them?”

These conversations drew out the concerns and solutions envisioned by local residents and businesses. They enabled organisers to address concerns and to prioritise projects that mattered most to locals in the development of The Plan.

It is important that workshops like these achieve an open dialogue where the local community is able to both learn and have their concerns heard. Once the different issues are addressed, a much more productive and positive communication channel opens between locals and project managers.

In Chippendale, locals walked out with a better understanding of The Plan and of the transformations they could soon see in their streets. The response was overwhelming positive. Michael Mobbs wove the feedback and ideas that arose from these workshops back into the projects and policies described in The Plan.

The minutes from the Council’s workshops are a clear testament of the communities support for transforming Chippendale into a sustainable suburb.

Download an archive of the minutes[82kb .zip file, contains .doc Word files].

City of Sydney promised Chippendale a sustainability plan, but council staff are yet to deliver The Plan to Councillors.

The next step was for The Plan to go before City of Sydney Council for approval:

Following the workshops a draft project plan will be drawn up and shared with local residents before a final plan goes to Council for approval.
City of Sydney’s flyer to residents[PDF 2.6MB]

The Plan was delivered to council staff in July 2011. You can download that document here, as a 35MB PDF.

Unfortunately, staff have yet to give the Plan to the Councillors to put on public exhibition. The Plan was meant to go before Council for “funding consideration in the 2011/12 budget” (see the Memorandum by the Chief Executive Officer, December 6 2010 [72kb PDF]). In June 2012, it is yet to be presented to them.

Please add your name to our petition calling on City of Sydney Council to review The Plan and put it on public display as promised.