Step 1 – committing to action

Public open space strategy guide for local governments.

A clear decision to have a public open space strategy and a commitment to its implementation is the first step. As part of an integrated planning approach, it is essential that the strategy reflects the council’s vision as articulated in its 10 year strategic community plan. It is also important to identify a champion for its development, preferably at director level. It is essential to clearly articulate where the strategy will fit into the organisation’s structure that is, will it be a standalone document or will it be integrated into the council’s other strategic level documents (i.e. local planning strategy, environmental strategy, economic development strategy).

An internal working group with representation from all divisions should be established, chaired by the champion. This should be comprised of officers who are able to make commitments on behalf of their branches or directorates.

A reference group of people outside the local government would provide insights into, or advice about, matters being considered by the working group. This may include membership from relevant State agencies (Department of Planning, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries), sporting bodies, and bushcare groups, etc.

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.

Diagram showing all the divisions of a local government that should provide input into a public open space strategy.

Developing 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 should also be clear council support for the development and implementation of a public open space strategy.

A set of clear principles will set the standards for the provision of public open space. These could include the following characteristics:

  • accessible
  • adaptable
  • diverse
  • sustainable
  • equitable
  • affordable
  • efficient.

It is equally important that the objectives of the strategy, whilst being aligned with those of the council, be seen as contributing the community’s overall aspirations for public open space in the local government area by:

  • meeting the sport, recreation and nature needs of the community
  • enhancing community health and wellbeing
  • providing high quality, sustainable park landscaping and infrastructure
  • valuing and protecting cultural heritage
  • improving community connectivity and equitable access to key destinations
  • providing valuable education resources
  • increasing biodiversity, protecting vulnerable wild spaces and conserving environmental resources
  • creating new and different opportunities for use and programming of space
  • providing a framework for long term planning.
Page reviewed 09 March 2021