A needs assessment should consider current demography, projected
changes to demography (i.e. ageing populations, increasing number of
families with young children etc.) and changes in population. It should
have the same time horizon as the Community Strategic Plan and should
use, and build on any work that has been done for housing and community
facilities plans, environmental strategies and development contribution
Consideration must also be given to changes in housing
types including increasing housing density and subsequent decreases in
private open space. This should be consistent with the local planning
strategy and associated planning policies.
There are a number of data sources that could be used including:
and national data on trends and community participation in sporting and
recreational activities - from agencies such as the Australian Bureau
of Statistics or Australian Sports Commission.
- Data on the
demographic or cultural characteristics of potential users - this should
be assessed as pointers to recreation demand. The size of the community
indicates the scale of provision, while the mix and type of facilities
will be influenced by the age profile, cultural background, household
makeup, economic status, education and employment, mobility and local
climate and environmental resources.
- Participation, facility
and program use data – these surveys of recreation clubs and
associations, venue bookings and user profiling represent a primary
source of information on patterns of usage and trends, and existing user
expectations. Care must be taken in drawing conclusions from this data
as usage may be dictated by the nature of current supply and could lead
to ‘more of the same’. and
- National, state and local
level studies of conservation values and landscape qualities of
candidate areas - for protection or special management regimes as part
of the open space system.
Drivers of changing needs:
in settlement types and density of population, with the increasing
pressures that come with increased residential density.
changes in population – recent trends in Western Australia will usually
indicate an increase in population (particularly in urban, regional and
growth areas) and ‘ageing’ of the population in terms of age groups.
private back-yard sizes as land sizes decrease and housing sizes
increase or multiple units/apartments are developed on single sites.
- Increasing pressure of community expectations for open space;
- people moving from urban to regional or rural areas often ‘take their expectations with them’;
- perceived inequity in established areas when compared to new subdivisions in the same municipality; or
expectations not being met when open space is developed and maintained
at a higher level by a developer than what a Council is able to achieve
once the open space is handed over to the local authority.
pressures on Local Government for management and maintenance of open
space and the perceived ‘cost shifting’ by other levels of government
and land management agencies.
- The opportunity to maximise use of community public land and infrastructure such as schools.
implications of community use of land reserved for other primary
purposes such as road and railway reserves, waterway corridors.
awareness of policy that insists on ‘no net loss’ of open space as
population grows – this awareness also includes the understanding that
open space is ‘alienated’ if it is built on, fenced off or allocated for
the exclusive use of a specific group to the exclusion of the
- Changing sport and recreation preferences
and participation trends, particularly the diversification of activity
and increasing popularity of informal / casual participation.
design initiatives that have challenged the definition of open space to
include spaces such as civic squares, hard paved forecourts, promenades
as well as areas of parkland.
- Design guidelines such as “Crime
Prevention through Environmental Design” and “Healthy by Design” that
address issues of safety such as the provision of lighting in and around
- Importance of biodiversity values.
attention to recognising and protecting indigenous cultural heritage
values and other heritage classifications (either through state or Local
Government heritage protection provisions) of open space and features
within open space.
- Need for alternative management strategies
regarding collection and use of water including reduction of use of
potable water wherever possible, alternate approaches to irrigation of
green space and landscape, use of drought tolerant grasses and plant
species, treatment of storm water, development of wetlands, sewer mining
- Increasing awareness and pressure
for alternate and active forms of transport – this is placing pressure
on governments to provide safe and connected pathways, quality and
efficient public transport, etc. These measures will influence a
decreasing incidence of the use of valuable open space for car parking.
interest in community gardens / edible landscapes / food production in
communities and the diverse ways that this issue can be addressed in
open space and other public land / facilities.
- Emphasis on social contact, connectedness and sense of belonging.