Green, Vibrant and Well Loved

Strategic planning for public open space networks that make the world a better place

Parks Week 2016 - Alpaca

I think we can all agree that taking the time to think strategically is generally a great idea, no matter the topic. This is especially important when the implementation of any vision is likely to be conducted in a piecemeal manner.

It is via local open space strategy and policy that the greatest impact on park provision can be achieved.  Open space policies and strategies have the capacity to guide how public open space is distributed to establish and protect a parkland network which enhances sense of place, ensures a balanced provision of sport, recreation and nature functions, retains significant environmental and cultural features; and realises opportunities for achieving efficiencies and sharing of infrastructure.

Crucially, Public Open Space (POS) strategic planning is important for making the absolute best use of limited resources; like your water for irrigation budget! It’s an opportunity to consider all available integrated water cycle management information such as district/regional water management strategies, water supply strategies, water license availability and/or storm water management planning in coordination with the Department of Water, and fit it in to how we meet the sport and recreation needs of the community.

We’ve recently developed a step-by-step online resource to guide local governments through the process of developing a POS strategy. It is available on the Department of Sport and Recreation website ( > Support and Advice). It outlines eight steps to take on your journey to creating a POS strategy (or the POS section of another strategic document) and includes lots of spin off information, examples and references along the way.

Here is a quick and dirty brief of the eight steps we think are crucial in thinking strategically about creating an open space network which meets the sport, recreation and access to nature needs of the community in the most equitable and resource efficient way.

Step 1 – Committing to Action

A project champion is vital but without full local government/council uptake early on you’ll be pushing uphill when you get moving. A Public Open Space Strategy needs to incorporate input from all divisions of the Local Government, as it will impact on all of the Council’s activities.

A great way to begin the journey is to pull together an internal working group with representation from all divisions should be established. Ensure that the people who come along are able to make commitments on behalf of their branches or directorates.

At your first gathering of the internal working group the first order of business should be the vision and objectives. It is essential that the strategy reflect the Council’s vision for the future. It should be aligned with the Council’s overall values and objectives as articulated in its Strategic Community Plan. There are some great examples on the website to get your word smithing started.

Step 2 – Scope and Context

The next discussion to have is how to make your vision come to life. What does the strategy aim to achieve? What is its sphere of influence? What aspects of POS planning will you focus on so you get the most impact for your efforts?

Something that may seem obvious but actually isn’t; how you define ‘Public Open Space’. In land administration terms the definition is somewhat clear but limits you to discussing land that is created through the subdivision process and excludes many of types of open space which is publically accessible and provides beautiful space for sport and recreation pursuits (like some types of bush land reserves, national parks and regional open space).

The Classification Framework for Public Open Space offers a potential definition for your consideration:

“POS refers to urban green spaces: parklands, play areas, playing fields, bushland, greenways and other similar spaces people use for recreation, sport and social interaction.”

Classification Framework for Public Open Space (DSR, 2012)

The strategy should also consider the relationship between public open space in its district and that within neighbouring Local Governments and spaces that operate on a regional scale. On that note, what is the scale of the strategy? Some in the past have teamed up with other local governments or regional councils to take on a broader scale; others have narrowed their focus to precincts or activity centres.

How it will link to other strategies and policies within the organisation and at a regional and or State level? What will give it teeth and status? It’s important that the strategy is integrated with other council documents and aligns with other similar documents like the Council’s Strategic Community Plan and/or Local Planning Strategy. It is important to identify all Local Government plans and activities that may influence or be influenced by this new strategy. Check out all the potential areas of overlap or conflict and be ready to work with them or blow them out of the water!

Decide whether the strategy should stand-alone and form part of a suite of strategic documents alongside, for example: a housing strategy, economic development strategy and environment strategy. If you go with this structure the relevant strategies and priorities would then be captured in the Council’s Strategic community Plan, Budget, Local Planning Strategy and other key Council documents.

Step 3 – Audit of existing POS

Show us what you’ve got! Lay all your cards on the table by conducting an audit of all the Councils existing POS assets. This forms the basis for determining how well current needs are being met and what is required to meet the future needs of the community.

Detailed information on these assets should be collected including:

  • Ownership (facilities and land);
  • Land administration information such as leases/licences/easements on the land;
  • Its purpose/function;
  • Facilities and infrastructure;
  • Current condition;
  • Usage;
  • Cost/revenue;
  • Cyclical maintenance requirements; and
  • Upgrade, replacement and redevelopment intentions.

Also, it is important to consider what is provided in surrounding areas that may also be meeting the needs of the community (i.e. regional playing grounds, parks and facilities). Thinking in terms of catchments is useful here, for example; a park with regional scale sporting facilities is likely to attract people up to 2km away, whilst smaller sites generally attract only the locals.

Step 4 – Current and future needs analysis

What is an adequate provision of public open space? What do your community want now and what are they likely to want in 10 years time? Understanding the community’s recreation aspirations helps identify and implement strategies to enhance the opportunities, experiences, benefits and the quality of life for the community.

Defining what an adequate provision of POS is, will form an aspirational standard delivery model and a clear baseline. The POS provision requirements in State Government planning policy (Liveable Neighbourhoods) are a good (and required) standard however Local Governments can develop a more thorough and locally significant definition. Seek help from best practice guidelines such as the Public Parkland Planning and Design Guide (DSR, 2014) especially for matters that are not covered in state government policy such as facility provision and development of POS.

Changing community needs may generate a demand for new or different facilities. Struggling to tell the future? Consider that these changes could occur due to population growth, a changing community (e.g. ageing, diversifying culturally or becoming more or less affluent) and/or a general shift in community attitudes.  For example, increased appreciation of natural and conservation values has increased demands for the retention and protection of land with landscape and environmental values.

A great place to start is to get out and talk to the community. A comprehensive ongoing program of research, profiling and consultation is the best way to gauge changing needs. Ask them these sorts of wonderful questions; which of the existing recreational provision works well and must be protected and strengthened? What recreational opportunities need fixing and how might they be fixed? What will ensure the community has access to the activities it would like to pursue?

Step 5 – Gap Analysis

And now we compare notes! A comparison between what is currently available (Step 3) and the current and future needs of the district (Step 4) will allow you to see the gaps in current provisions or areas where there might be an oversupply.

This is not going to look like comparing two maps – you’ll have quantitative and qualitative information to consider in the form of ideas from the community, data from facilities and catchment mapping, to name only a couple! Mapping is a great place to start though because you’ll be able to analyse the existing open space supply in terms of how well it meets various needs. Needs are met through good access to functional spaces. The basis of this is the location, distribution and connectivity of the network of open spaces (with each other and with other key destinations and spaces of interest in the neighbourhood).  However, also consider other impediments to using spaces including physical, geographic, financial, social and cultural barriers.

Step 6 – Strategies, opportunities and priorities

Now this is the tricky (exciting) bit! How do we go about filling those gaps? Step 6 is the opportunity to determine how best to implement both adequate and aspirational POS provision.

There are a number of great ways to meet gaps in provision. Such as;

  • Better use of existing spaces (efficiency measures)
  • Converting or adapting existing space (change of use)
  • Strategic land acquisition to improve linkages or increase capacity of existing space;
  • Integrating and colocation with other services/users;
  • Using new technologies and enhanced design (installing lighting to extend times that facilities can be used, using artificial services to reduce maintenance costs and time);
  • Providing more indoor facilities that can be used throughout the year rather than being subject to weather or seasonal vagaries;
  • Rationalising facilities by identifying poorly used and/or located spaces; and
  • Providing detailed, locally appropriate guidance (supported by planning instruments) to developers on site provision and development.

Step 7 – Implementation

This is where it all takes shape; take all those strategies, opportunities and priorities from Step 6 and create a plan of attack. Your comprehensive implementation plan, in addition to identifying responsibilities and timing should also consider:

  • Input from, and integration into the activities of, all divisions of the Local Government
  • Integration into the Community Strategic Plan and Corporate Plan
  • Facility management, programming and services
  • Statutory planning instruments
  • Funding opportunities
  • Budget pricing and charges plan

Step 8 – Monitoring and review

Of course, any good plans comes with some way of determining if it’s been successful or not, and a plan to realign with its goals in the future.

A great idea is a plan to keep the data collected in the auditing stage up to date into the future.  A curated database can come in handy at budgeting time.

Keeping an eye on how the community feels over time via periodic surveys can monitor and gather feedback on performance of the strategy and track changes in demand. Set up regular opportunities to talk to people who use the parks – casual users and those who have a more formal relationship like a lease arrangement for a sporting facility.

Ready to do it all over again yet? The strategy should commit to both comprehensive review (say a 7-10 year cycle), and interim or ad hoc reviews if there is a major change in the planning context (for example if the State or Federal Governments provide funding for a major new facility which changes the supply context). Just when you thought you’d got to the last step!

For much more thorough guidance on this topic please visit the online Public Open Space Strategy Guide for Local Governments, available on the Department of Sport and Recreation website ( > Support and Advice).

The online resource is a wealth of information on various aspects of POS planning including example POS strategies, academic articles and guidance documents to both support your argument for undertaking POS planning and help you through the process.




The Entertainer – City of Vincent’s lifts ban on Icecream Trucks

Keep an eye out for the City of Vincent’s draft ‘Mobile Food Vendor’ policy over the coming weeks!

Last night (2nd December 2014) City of Vincent Council considered the draft and agreed it was ready to go out for public comment. Hurray! The Food Truck take over is alive and strong.

Two major changes as far as I can see, the first being that they will lift their current ban on “itinerant vendors” AKA Ice cream vans! Watch out Vincent residents, soon the delicious sound of impending soft serve will be tinkling gently through your house on a sunny sunday afternoon.

simpsons icecream truck

The second change being that they have identified a few car parking bays throughout the city where licenced food trucks can park and trade.

Here is the  City of Vincent 2 Dec Agenda, the pages concerning the new policy if you fancy a look. I’ll be having a closer look when it comes out!

Congratulations City of Vincent!



Fremantle Bathers Beach Summer Food Market

The Bathers Beach Summer Food Market in Freo! They are running every Saturday night from now onwards over summer (not Australia Day) just between the maritime museum and the beach, next to Sweetlips/Cicerellos.

It’s a truly beautiful spot, from all angles you can see something lovely, ether the calm Bathers Beach or the maritime museum’s beautiful limestone facade,there is lovely lighting under the trees, and there is plenty of space to sit on the grass or the deck to eat (come prepared to sit on the ground). There were about 15 vendors all up including a coffee van, and a couple of different ones in addition to the usual Perth mobile food merchants including quesadillas, which where exceptional.  Whilst you have probably seen most of the vendors before if you’ve been to the Twilight Hawkers Market in Perth, the location really did make it worth the trip in my opinion. Of course if you live in Fremantle or find the Forrest Chase markets a bit too claustrophobic for you then Saturday night in Freo is the place to get your hawker fix.














We started our adventure with a beverage at Little Creatures to watch the sun set, made our selections at the market and perched on the edge of the deck to enjoy it, feel dangling over the beach and watching the kids splashing in the water, then afterwards walked into Freo for a San Churros hot chocolate to finish off our evening in chocolatey style.

Overall, not much new to try or as much choice as elsewhere but the location made it pretty great. Perfect excuse to head into Freo for a cheap, relaxing dinner on a summers evening.

Click on the pictures to see the rest of the shots I took, on flikr.

New Year, New Inspiration

Looking for a burst of wild inspiration for the new year? Maybe it’s time to take on something new!

Here’s a few ideas for some extracurricular things in Perth that you might be interested in taking on;

UWA extension – One of my personal favourites, you can sign up for classes in everything from cheese making to rocket science or do a course online too (languages, adobe programs and other work related skills). I did a Supervision and Management one not that long ago and it was a great experience and because it’s from UWA it looks relatively legit on the CV. Here is a link to the program to get you excited.

Central TAFE Short Courses – How does a french class after work sound? or perhaps guitar lessons or fabric screen printing? You can even learn how to sew your own knickers on monday nights. The campus is only a 5-10 minute walk from St Georges Tce.

Polytechnic West – TAFE Short Courses – These guys have a few campuses around Perth including Bentley, Victoria Park and Midland. With languages, singing, massage, art, cooking, I’m sure you’ll find something there that pikes your interest.

Challenger – TAFE Short Courses – for those of you in the south of Perth (Freo, Applecross, Bibra Lake, Murdoch, Rockingham, Mandurah) Challenger TAFE have short courses near you. A bit of an odd mix of things on offer here.

Fancy doing something creative but don’t want to be told what to do? Check out Art Jamming with The Art Things. Pippa runs workshops in the park (currently in South Perth or Kalamunda) where you can go along and throw some paint at a canvas, and dance or picnic or whatever else you want to do whilst you’re at it. Great fun.

Want to learn how to give your hunny toe curling massage? Jenny Sherwood runs workshops and classes from a her studio on Canning Hwy, Victoria Park. She’s a bit sharp but a powerful teacher. Look out for coupons/deals for this one.

How about Yoga? Yeah its excercise but if you’ve never tried it before it’s quite a learning curve. Perfect for expanding your point of view. Best yoga teacher I’ve found in Perth is Sue Byrne. runs classes throughout the week in Cannington.

Also check out scoopon et al. for deals, recently I’ve seen rock climbing, and scuba diving.

Any others I’ve missed? Send them through!

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m about to start sketching classes (enrolments open tomorrow), can’t wait!

What are you taking on in 2013?



It’s a bit sketchy

My brain thinks that I can draw, but then when I put my hand on to the paper it appears that I actually cannot. I can see it exactly how I would like it to look, can imagine most details in my head but these ideas don’t travel from there onto the canvas. My mum is a fantastic artist and so I gues thats why I’ve always just assumed that I could.

Anyway,  I’m kicking off throwing myself and my career towards urban design/landscape architecture and a big part of that is being able to get the ideas out of my head and onto paper. I quickly realised that the ideas part isn’t my problem, which is what I was warned about when I first discussed the course with lecturers – apparently many planners like me struggle with this. Well the good news is that that is not a problem! I can be tought! I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably never be one of those natually talented artists (not really talented at anything naturally..) but who knows, maybe you wont notice.

In January I’m going to enroll in Sketching and Drawing class and the TAFE near me. Then after that I’ll start learning the Adobe programs I’ll need – InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and then on to AutoCAD, after which I’ll know if its worth me starting masters :) I know I’m serious because I just cracked open a brand new Macbookpro capable of running all these fantastic peices of programming.

What fanastic new thing are you going to learn in 2013? Come drawing with me?

Perth – The City of Cranes

Wondering why they are digging up the footpath, why the skyline is scattered with cranes, why their are trucks in the Perth CBD again?

I’ll try and keep you in the loop.

Follow my Pinterest board – Perth, and when news releases/projects get approved or announced, I’ll put a link to them so you can be in the know and the envy of all your friends.

I’ve only just started so if you see something and its not on there let me know and I’ll add it!