Community planning

What is community planning?

Community planning enables people to create a shared vision for their local community. It helps establish what people want to change or introduce into their township or district.

Planning and resulting actions are conducted by the community for the community, with Yarra Ranges Council supporting the process.

The process is driven by community members who decide:

  • when to start
  • how to proceed
  • who should be involved
  • what objectives will be attempted
  • what the priorities for action will be

Yarra Ranges Council can provide mentoring, support, advice, encouragement, information, training and seed funding along the way. 

How does community planning work?

Community planning involves:

  • talking to people in your community
  • organising events
  • getting free training and coaching

By going through this process your group will produce a document called a ‘Community Plan’ which includes:

  • a statement of a shared vision of the community in the future
  • a summary of themes and priorities
  • actions and activities that community members will perform together

What is the process of community planning?

Step 1: Formation

Community planning typically begins with the commitment of just one or two motivated people in the community.

They may be leaders of an existing group and want to motivate their community group to get in touch with others to start a community planning process. Or, they may be people who want to start a new group, passionate to make their community a better place.

In starting the community planning process, we recommend:

  • attending one of Council’s information sessions on community planning and encouraging other community members to come along
  • talking to one of Council’s Community Development officers about community planning
  • forming a steering group of 3-5 people who can help them to organise things
  • contacting local community groups and clubs to make them aware of community planning
  • organising an information session in their community about community planning (Council has Small Grants to help you do this)
  • asking interested people to join a community planning group (you will need 10 - 15 people).

Step 2: Information

Now that you have a group of community members who have committed to starting the community planning process, the second step of the community planning process is to gather as much information as you can about your community.

This includes information held by governments and individuals that can help you understand what makes your community tick, and what are the processes of change.  Gathering this information and data will set you up for Step 3, which is to gather ideas and suggestions from community members themselves.

Your group will do some or all of the following:

  • gather relevant local information
  • ask government officials, experts, and politicians to speak at your meetings about your community
  • gather census and other data about your community
  • gather strategies and plans government agencies
  • gather data and histories from community groups and local businesses
  • collect stories from local people who have lived or worked in your community for a long time
  • develop a community engagement plan, so that you are ready for Step 3

Step 3: Involvement

Collect ideas and suggestions from community members about how to make your community a better place to live, work, study and play. You will want to ask as many people as possible, using as many different ways as possible. Your goal is to get ideas and suggestions from 10% of your community members.

After collecting ideas from the community, collate your ideas into key themes and ask your community to rank them. 

Actions you may want to take during step 3 include:

  • organising a community event, such as a facilitated workshop or a community dinner, to brainstorm the strengths, assets and opportunities in the community; gather suggestions and ideas; and find out how people can get involved
  • reaching out to those people who are not getting involved using different methods
  • categorising ideas and suggestions into themes and link them to the information you collected in Step 2
  • ranking the themes by asking your community to vote for their top priorities
  • using social and mainstream media to promote your events, activities and surveys.

Step 4: Presentation

At the end of Step 4 of the community planning process, your plan will be completed, and you will be ready for Step 5 when you will implement community-driven projects.

To complete your plan, your group will:

  • agree on a vision statement that describes your community in 10 years' time
  • develop action plans on the highest-ranking themes that emerged from Step 3
  • decide which projects will be done in the short, medium and long term

Step 4 typically includes some or all of the following:

  • organising a professionally facilitated workshop to create a vision statement, develop action plans and decide on timeframes.
  • writing a draft community plan and distributing it widely for comment
  • finalising the plan and presenting it to Yarra Ranges Council for acknowledgement
  • publicly launching the plan and distributing the document throughout your community.


Step 5: Implementation

To successfully implement your community plan, we recommend your group to:

  • Meet regularly to guide implementation of the Plan
  • Support the project action groups as needed
  • Continue to seek and apply for funding (see Step 4)
  • Maintain relationships with key stakeholders
  • Consider formalising the group’s structure
  • Review and evaluate progress regularly
  • Host annual gatherings to celebrate achievements and review progress
  • Regularly share your progress and successes with the community
  • Continue to seek community involvement
  • Develop a community engagement plan for a review of the plan every 3-4 years
  • Conduct engagement activities to review the plan, invite people to get involved
  • Update the community plan taking into account engagement outcomes
  • Provide information to the community about the review and the updated Plan


Need some ideas?

View successful community plans


Need help?
Contact our Community Development team on 1300 368 333