Place-making projects are a great way for communities to take responsibility for creating opportunities or solving problems in their local neighbourhoods. They can often create new networks, channel energy and facilitate local creativity and innovation.

Before you begin

Things to consider before you get started.

What do you want to achieve?

Consider both the process and the result. Successful community projects are inclusive and collaborative. They are just as successful at building community and individual capacity and connections as they are at creating places, things or events that people love.

Why are you doing this?

A useful early step is to understand if there is an identified need that the proposed place, thing or event will meet, and if there is a shared desire for it. It is also important to consider who will take ownership of, and drive, the project. Good project planning will have achievable and deliverable actions, not just ideas.

Who is available to help?

People are the most important resource in a project. Consider which community group or member will lead the various steps. Who are the other people and agencies that might contribute? Are there already groups that exist that do similar projects? Christchurch is full of passionate groups doing great work in their communities. Ask around to see if there is already a group that you can join.

How much time will it take? 

The amount of time you will need to plan, design and deliver a project can vary greatly depending on what's involved. Sometimes it can be even the smallest or unexpected things which can hold a project up. 

Talk to your local Community Development Advisor (CDA) or Community Recreation Advisor (CRA) about what you need to consider. You can also take a look at our local success stories for examples of projects to see the timeframes involved.

Don't be put off if the timeframe is longer than you expected. Quite often the best outcomes come from taking the time to connect with others to plan and promote your initiative.  

Which tools will you use?

There are a diverse range of tools to help you plan, design and deliver your project. Before getting started, it’s also important to consider which tool or combination of tools will help you deliver the best results. See Tools to help you deliver your idea.

What kind of budget do you need?

This will vary greatly depending on what you are planning to do. It is a good idea to consider at least a small budget to account for possible venue hire or materials. See Funding your project.

You can also ask your local CDA or CRA for advice on sources of funding for your project and how to access free or discounted community equipment and resources. 

What potential speed bumps might you face?

Community groups or individuals can face a number of speed bumps in trying to implement their projects. These may be generated by division within the community or by the possible difficulties dealing with the Council to obtain access to public spaces, funding and other assistance.

For example:

  • difficulty finding the right person to talk to;
  • the Council's many and sometimes multiple or conflicting processes and requirements, often driven by legal requirements outside Council control, for community access to public places. Many processes will depend on the specific proposal, such as the proposed use, duration and facility or space, and may include requirements for resource and/or building consents, traffic management plans, lighting plans and liability insurance;
  • meeting criteria for funding assistance; and
  • likely timeframes and costs.

It pays to do your homework. See Overcoming speed bumps.

How can the Council help?

The Council’s local Community Development and Community Recreation Advisors (CDAs and CRAs), who are based within the seven community board areas and contactable through their Community Governance Managers, are a good first point of contact to run through your idea with and help you find out what is needed.

These staff can connect with other areas of the Council to help with your information needs and/or Council requirements.

Community Development Advisors (CDAs)

CDAs can provide a range of services and support for community-led projects, including:

  • information about existing strategic plans and community facilities and spaces;
  • initial linkage into the Council, and unit which 'owns' assets such as such as public parks and other infrastructure like roads and street furniture;
  • ongoing contact with you, including facilitating meetings/contact with the Council’s asset owner;
  • advice for engaging with your local community;
  • advice about skills development within the community; and
  • information and assistance with possible funding sources.

Community Recreation Advisors (CRAs)

CRAs support community recreation and sporting groups and organisations to strengthen and create opportunities for people to be more active more often.

They can do everything the CDAs do, as well as:

  • support the organising and running of community events, including information about community facilities and spaces; and
  • help develop skills for communities looking to run their own recreation activities.

To connect with a CDA or CRA, contact the Community Governance Manager from your local Community Board.

The process

Every community-led project is unique and the process to achieving it often is too.

Most place-making projects generally follow these six steps

1. Get started

testDetermine what you want to do, why, who is available to help, how long it will take, what kind of budget you’ll need and whether it will need an ongoing commitment.

In addition to advice from the Council, tools to help you deliver your idea and other place-making resources include:

  • Establishing a project group.
  • Neighbourhood skills audit.
  • Review existing strategic plans and statutory documents.
  • Get Set Go event planning.
  • Other helpful organisations.

2. Identify the issues and evaluate the space

testThink about the issues and proposed space of your project. 

Tools to help you deliver your idea include:

  • Fish bowl process.
  • Appreciative inquiry.
  • Asset mapping.

3. Identify your vision

People in New Brighton participating in a design competition Create a clear and representative vision of what you want to achieve. 

Tools to help you deliver your idea include:

  • Fishbowl process.
  • Charrettes.
  • Enquiry by design.
  • Design competition/workshop.

4. Identify potential constraints

residences of Riccarton West in a parkDetermine what speed bumps you might face as the project unfolds. These may include seeking land owner permissions and/or regulatory consents.

In addition to advice from the Council, tools to help you deliver your idea include:

  • Existing strategic plans and statutory documents.
  • Legal requirements, such as obtaining building and resource consent.

5. Obtain funding

Photo of the community cafe in Linwood villageThink about creative solutions or potential partners that can contribute to your project and help keep the monetary costs low. 

Sources of funding your project may include:

  • Council funding sources.
  • Non-Council funding sources.

6. Delivery

Flying fish decorate vacant lot in LyttletonWhat are the final things that need to happen to ensure your project is delivered successfully? In addition to advice from the Council, Other place-making resources include:

  • Resources, tools and documents.
  • Other helpful organisations.