The following tools can assist you to realise your community-led project. They will help you get started, get to know your community and subject space, and plan how to transform it.

Time, cost and effort

An indication of the total time, cost and effort likely to be involved in the preliminary planning for, and application of, each tool is explained as follows:

Time: preliminary planning
and application
Short = 0 to 3 days Medium = 1 to 4 weeks Long = 1 to 12 months
Cost: financial investment Low = $0 to $100 Medium = $100 to $1000 High = $1000+
Effort: energy and commitment Low = minimal Medium = moderate High = significant

Establishing a project group, if one doesn’t already exist

It’s important to involve a wide variety of people in your project to ensure its process and outcome best represents the community as a whole.

An inspired and motivated group of people can rally your community to a cause, organise efforts into effective tasks and help bring your idea to life.

Starting a new group from scratch can take a lot of time and energy. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Before you start contact the Council's local Community Development Advisor (CDA) for advice on existing community or project groups you can work with on your project.
  • Be open and welcoming.
  • Look for those voices that aren’t being heard.
  • Draw on the skills, knowledge and resources of those around you.
  • Acknowledge and recognise the time and effort of your volunteers.
  • Go where the energy is – the best result will come from supporting people's interests and passions.
  • Stay positive and be prepared to hit a few speed bumps along the way.

The following websites and resources may assist:

Time Medium Although may take shorter or longer depending on the issue and community capacity.
Cost Low to Medium Low, especially when using existing networks or social media, to Medium, e.g. if have flyers and/or providing catering at first meeting.
Effort Medium Although may be Low to High depending on leader's and community's capacity.

Neighbourhood skills audit

A neighbourhood skills audit can help form a better understanding of the knowledge and abilities of those within your community.

Having a better understanding of the available skills can contribute to neighbours helping each other out and strengthen a community’s resilience.

The following may assist:

Time Medium Although may take shorter. Biggest time demand is getting people together.
Cost Low to Medium Depending on method, e.g. Survey Monkey can be quick and efficient if well-worded.
Effort  Medium Although may be Low to High depending on the scale of the neighbourhood and ability of people to see their own strengths and build confidence.

Review existing strategic plans and statutory documents

A variety of policies and plans prepared by the Council, and other agencies, can have broader implications for how a neighbourhood will be shaped or how assets will be managed. A review is recommended to provide an understanding of the context for your project.

With some assistance from your Community Development Advisor (CDA), Council can help you understand how your project might be affected by existing Council policies and plans.

Examples of key policies and plans are:

Time  Short Although may be Medium to Long depending on the number of documents, who reviews them and their familiarity with them.
Cost Low If done voluntarily, as most documents are online.
Effort Medium to High Depending on the topic and skill set of the reviewer.

Fish bowl process

A community can come and watch a planning team work through a planning exercise without actually taking part.

Observing the planning process can help communities familiarise themselves with common terminology and processes, and begin to do some planning for themselves. 

Time  Short to Long  Depending on the timing of a suitable planning exercise to observe.
Cost Low  
Effort Low to High Depending on willingness to include within project timeframe, if appropriate.

Appreciative inquiry

A good exercise for identifying potential place-making projects and building community.

An Appreciative Inquiry aims to identify the physical, social and/or other aspects of your community that are liked and disliked, potentially through brainstorming in focus groups.

The following may assist:

Time  Medium  Although may be Short depending on number of opportunities provided to reach different groups within community for input.
Cost Low to Medium  Although may be Short depending on number of opportunities provided to reach different groups within community for input.
Effort Medium  Subject to maintaining people’s involvement.

Asset mapping

Creating an asset map can be a useful first step, particularly when developing something like a community plan.

This helps to identify what a community may or may not need to serve those living there.

The following may assist:

Time  Medium Although may be Short, provided resources such as maps, etc, are readily available.
Cost Low to Medium Depending on venue hire, materials, etc. required.
Effort Low to High Low, if involves simple data review and mapping, to High, subject to maintaining people’s involvement.


These are intensive design workshops, led by Council staff or an independent facilitator, aimed at facilitating open discussion between stakeholders.

Ideas and concepts gathered are worked into a transparent and realistic proposal.

The following may assist:

Time  Medium to Long Depending on how well planned and facilitated.
Cost Low to High Depending on extent of resources needed, e.g. payment of an independent facilitator.
Effort High Although may be Medium, depending on extent to which the facilitator is prepared.

Enquiry by design

Workshops where town planners, urban designers and other technical experts work with stakeholders to develop a design that works best for a particular area. Elements such as local zoning and infrastructural capacity are discussed with the stakeholders to produce a better informed design concept.

The following may assist:

Time  Medium to Long Depending on the time frame for initial workshops and completion.
Cost High Although may be Medium depending on the scale of the project.
Effort High Although may be Medium depending on the scale of the project.

Design competition/workshop

This process sets out a series of parameters or criteria and invites people to get involved by submitting their designs or attending workshops aimed at influencing a final design.

The following may assist:

New Brighton Tiny Huts design competition 

Time  Long Although may be Medium depending on the scale of the project.
Cost Medium  
Effort High Although may be Medium depending on the scale of the project. Phases will vary in intensity.

Overcoming speed bumps

Suggested ways of overcoming potential speed bumps that community groups or individuals may face in getting their projects implemented.

Speed bumps Tips to consider
No support from local community

Discuss your idea with others in the community. Does your idea need to be tweaked to encourage wider community buy-in? 

Think about existing community groups in your area that could help you develop your idea. 

Use the Council's CINCH(external link) database to find any such groups or talk to a local Community Development Adviser, who may be able to help put you in touch with such groups.
Starting a new group when there already is one / other groups are already doing a similar project

Consider joining or working with the existing group on this project. One group collaborating together is a lot more effective that two groups working separately.

Not obtaining necessary land owner permissions, or regulatory consents


  • if the space you are proposing to use is publicly or privately owned
  • if are you running an event
  • the type of land you are proposing to use
  • any buildings or structures proposed.

If you plan on using any Council spaces or assets it is likely that you will need some form of land owner permission and/or regulatory consent (e.g. event permit, park booking, building and/or resource consent (see below section), traffic management plan).

Council's local Community Development Adviser is a good first point of contact to run through your idea with. They can help you find out what, if anything, is needed and how to get it.

Expecting the Council to make your idea happen

Consider if there are people with energy and commitment within the community to deliver place-making projects themselves.

The Council doesn’t have the ability to do everything for everyone and must focus its limited resources on identified priority areas. 

Contact a local Community Development Adviser for advice as to the extent to which the Council may be able to help, if needed. 

Time  Long Although may be Medium to Low depending on the nature and scale of the project and associated speed bumps.
Cost Medium to High  
Effort High Although may be Medium, depending on the nature and number of associated speed bumps.

Obtaining building and/or resource consents

While most building work will need building consent under the Building Act 2004, you can do some specified low-risk building work without one.

Likewise, the Christchurch District Plan does permit some temporary activities, buildings and events in specified circumstances.

To find out whether your idea requires a building consent and/or a land use-related resource consent, contact the Council on (03) 941 8999 to discuss it with a Duty Building Consent Officer and/or Duty Planner.

In the event a building and/or resource consent is required, pre-application meetings are possible and encouraged. These provide an opportunity for you to discuss your proposed project and information requirements with relevant Council staff before lodging your application/s. Contact the Council on (03) 941 8686 or email

For more information regarding building and/or resource consents (including how you can support someone else’s resource consent application), see:

Time  Long Allow at least six months from identification of the need to obtain approval/s.
Cost High Particularly if specialist advice is required, although may be Medium, depending on the nature and scale of the project.
Effort High Although may be Medium, depending on the nature and scale of the project.