Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage

Best Practice – Community Engagement in Urban Design

  • Research
  • Strategy + Design
  • Andrew Watt
  • Barbara G’Dowski
  • Breyon Gibbs

Supporting growth through community engagement.

The challenge

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage brings all land use and heritage responsibilities under one umbrella to shape the future of our cities, regions and towns in Western Australia.

Data shows an increasing global trend of people moving to established urban areas in order to access improved amenity, services and employment opportunities. Like other cities, Perth is under pressure to implement strategies to cope with the influx in a sustainable and meaningful way.

The State Government has set a target for the Perth and Peel regions to accommodate 380,000 new homes within established areas by 2050, of which 214,000 will be built within the central sub-region of Perth.

As a result, the need for aligning land use, development and planning with the ever-evolving needs of the social, economic and environmental landscape is as important as ever.

Aligning these needs means having a thorough approach that goes beyond the existing Residential Design Codes and Liveable Neighbourhoods policies.

To build on these codes and policies, the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage developed Design WA, an umbrella planning guide with seven new policies. These policies can be categorised into three sections: Land Planning, Built Form and Guidelines.

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage is also investigating the potential to develop a Community Engagement Guide and Toolkit that will guide the engagement process in each community to inform urban and built design.

Research showed that cities which have planned successfully for growth are those which included an effective community engagement processes.

Creating Communities was engaged to undertake research on best practice community engagement processes in urban design and built form from across Australia and internationally. Creating Communities also provided guidance and recommend approaches and tools to plan, deliver and participate in the community engagement process and the potential contents of a community and stakeholder engagement toolkit.

The outcomes

To create a successful engagement model, we consulted with key stakeholders and thought leaders through interviews and online surveys to understand the needs of communities around the State.

We then completed a comprehensive research phase, understanding the relevant data both locally and internationally.

We compiled the work into a report with a comprehensive context analysis (research phase), needs analysis (informed by the engagement phase) and detailed recommendations.

The report was provided to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage to inform the potential development of the Community Engagement Toolkit and will provide guidance on how to achieve quality design outcomes through robust community engagement across the various contexts within Western Australia.

If implemented as part of the Design WA policy suite, the policies resulting from our recommendations should ensure quality community engagement requirements which are clear to all stakeholders, while being flexible enough to be tailored to a specific project.

 It’s been a pleasure working with you and your team and we really appreciate the amount of work that has gone into Stage 1 of the project. I think the outcome is a very thorough and informative report to progress the development of a State-level community engagement guide. 

— Planning Officer, Strategy and Engagement


  • Needs Analysis
  • Context Analysis
  • Strategy + Policy recommendations


Anthony Duckworth – Collaborative Place Design

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