05 August 2010
This bulletin outlines key elements of the community planning process, as required by the Local Government Act 2009.
The Act requires that all Local Governments in Queensland prepare a long-term community plan.
The plan needs to:
- outline the Local Government’s goals, strategies and policies for implementing their vision for the future of the area, during the period covered by the plan
- cover a period of at least 10 years after the commencement of the plan.
The Local Government (Finance, Plans and Reporting) Regulation 2010 that supports community planning in Local Government in Queensland establishes the minimum requirements for:
- a community plan
- the community planning process.
Developing a community plan
The community planning process follows a general pattern of:
- agreeing on the role and scope of the community plan
- developing the approach to community planning to be used by the Local Government
- gathering background data and information to inform the community engagement process
- engaging with the community and gathering perspectives and ideas
- developing a vision for the Local Government area based on the engagement process
- considering the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and State governments, community groups and partnerships in delivering on the community plan
- developing a draft community plan
- engaging with the community on the draft community plan and seeking feedback
- considering the potential impact of the plan on the Local Government management plans and forward financial forecasts
- adopting the community plan by the Local Government and implementing the plan via the corporate planning process.
The first steps
A community plan is the community’s expression of its needs, expectations and priorities for the future. The initial steps in the process should include:
- identify the long-term plans that the council has already developed for its Local Government area
- identify whether there is a Regional Plan that includes all or part of the Local Government area
- approach the local DIP regional office and indicate the commencement of the planning process
- identify any current or proposed impacts of significance on the Local Government area, for example - mining, liquefied natural gas (LNG), state development area (SDA)
- obtain relevant predictive data for the area - demographics, growth, income
- ensure a long-term financial model for the Local Government exists
- identify the proposed community engagement process to be used and the key topics to be covered
- engage with the Mayor and Councillors on the proposed community engagement process, and their role in that process
- establish a large external (community) reference group that can support the council throughout the planning process
- undertake internal (council) communications on the planning process, and seek support from all managers.
From this, next steps would involve planning the community planning process, finalising the community engagement approach and getting ready for the public launch of the planning process.
A Local Government’s planned response to the community plan is articulated through the corporate plan, which has an expected lifespan of approximately five years. The corporate plan is the principal delivery agent for the local community and would be expected to mirror much of what the community plan seeks. A Local Government’s capacity to deliver on its community plan is very much dependent on resourcing of basic structures and program delivery frameworks.
The community plan, developed in accordance with a comprehensive community engagement process, will provide the basis and context for the Local Government’s:
- input to the regional planning process
- strategic land use planning and priority infrastructure planning in accordance with the Sustainable Planning Act 2009
- corporate plan
- long-term financial plan and sustainability strategy.
Community engagement, as a process, can occur at all phases of the development of the community plan. For example a Local Government may need to inform, consult and involve a range of stakeholders at the intelligence gathering, community input, community visioning and validation phases.
The Local Government must also integrate the community planning process with the internal policy and planning processes.
The role of the Councillor in community planning - overview
Mayors and Councillors have important roles to play in the community planning process. These roles are summarised below:
- consider and determine the strategic intent of the community plan - how will the Local Government make best use of the community planning opportunity for the Local Government area
- consider and formally adopt the Local Government’s community engagement policy, that will provide the basis for all community engagement activities of the Local Government
- encourage community involvement in the process and act as a leader and facilitator of the community’s involvement and representation
- ensure certain themes have been considered - social, environmental, economic, governance
- be comfortable with the scope of the community plan - is the plan going to incorporate advocacy and partnering initiatives?
- formally adopt the community plan following a process of review and consideration
- monitor the progress of the implementation of the community plan via the implementation of the corporate plan
- consider whether the community plan requires amendment or refresh at appropriate intervals.
Relationship between community plans and corporate plans
A Local Government’s corporate plan is the process by which the Local Government sets its strategic directions and actions for a shorter timeframe within this framework of the community plan. It provides the context for monitoring its own performance in achieving its objectives within the context of the over-arching community plan.
The corporate plan represents a five-year plan to contribute to the achievement of the aspirations articulated in the community plan. A corporate plan cannot be for a longer period of time.
The corporate plan is drawn from the community plan and is not required to include a separate community engagement process.
The corporate plan represents the Local Government’s strategies, activities and associated roles and responsibilities connected with the achievement of the aspirations and vision of the community plan. The objectives, strategies and actions outlined in the corporate plan must be consistent with the vision of the community plan.
The corporate plan may, at the Local Government’s discretion, include the acceptance of responsibilities by the Local Government that are broader than its prescribed responsibilities under the Local Government Act 2009. It may also include the assignment of responsibilities to organisations or individuals in addition to the Local Government, with the agreement of those organisations or individuals.
The Local Government is responsible for the development and adoption of the corporate plan, which is by formal resolution of the Local Government.