What is a Strategic Community Plan?
The Strategic Community Plan is a long term strategic plan which provides a vision and plan for the future, to guide Council in its endeavours.
Each local government in Western Australia is required to prepare and maintain a Strategic Community Plan under Section 19C of the Local Government (Administration) Regulations 1996. The Regulations state that the plan must cover at least 10 years, and outline the vision and aspirations and objectives of the community.The Strategic Community Plan works in tandem with other strategic documents such as the Long Term Financial Plan, Corporate Business Plan (a 4+year delivery document), and annual budgets and reports. The Strategic Community Plan provides an overarching vision, goals and series of objectives and is supplemented by a number of more detailed 'Informing Strategies' and action plans addressing specific issues (like the Integrated Transport Strategy and Urban Forest Plan).
Tell me about the City's current Strategic Community Plan
The City of Fremantle adopted its current Strategic Community Plan in April 2016. The Plan covers the period 2015-2025. It was prepared following an extensive community visioning exercise in 2013/14 which involved over 800 participants in a series of workshops.
The Plan outlines a vision for Fremantle as a Destination City. It then defines a series of goals, outcomes and objectives based around the following Strategic Focus Areas (or 'themes') which were identified in the community visioning:
1. Economic Development
2. Environmental Responsibility
3. Transport and Connectivity
4. Character, Culture and Heritage
5. Places for People
6. Health and Happiness
7. Capability.A copy of the current document is available under 'Key Council Strategies' on the City's website.
Why is the Council reviewing the Strategic Community Plan?
Although it’s only been three years since Council adopted the Strategic Community Plan, regular review of the document is necessary to make sure that it stays up-to-date, and to keep everyone 'on board'. The Local Government (Administration) Regulations 1996 require that it be reviewed every 4 years (though more regular minor reviews are often recommended).
Apart from keeping the document up-to-date and meeting statutory requirements, review of the document provides a useful form to take stock of where we're at, how far we've come and how to proceed. Keeping aspirations in line with what is realistically achievable is also desirable, though the high level nature of the document also lends itself to longer term, ‘big picture’ thinking.The City of Fremantle has been updating its Long Term Financial Plan and is also preparing a new Corporate Business Plan so review of the Strategic Community Plan to ensure that its direction remains current and relevant is also considered good practice to feed into these 'delivery' documents.
What is the focus of the review?
The focus of this review has been on ensuring that the direction of the Strategic Community Plan remains right and so provides a firm foundation for the update of the Long Term Financial Plan, and new Corporate Business Plan. Because the plan is only 3 years old, and delivery of many elements will take much longer than this, comprehensive review was considered unnecessary. However a fuller review is planned for 2021/22 (which will be about half way through the Plan's horizon).
How is Council going in delivering the Strategic Community Plan?
To match aspirations (what we want) with resources (what we can afford to do), the Strategic Community Plan works in tandem with the Long Term Financial Plan and Corporate Business Plan. Every year, an Annual Report is delivered which outlines progress: you can see these on the City's website under ‘Strategic and key documents’. The new Corporate Business Plan under preparation will more closely align with the terms used in the Strategic Community Plan so it’s clearer how each of the Council's projects and funded activities contribute to the overarching goals.
Progress against each objective has been considered in the review which has shown advancement in most areas. Noteworthy areas include the implementation Kings Square project, attracting new residents and employees to the City, waste reduction, corporate energy reduction as well as tree planting. Council has also been active in advocacy, working with the Western Australian government on areas of focus which are typically controlled by the state, such as the future of port operations. The City has also made strong process in the area of housing diversity, an example of this being the recent gazettal of the ‘Freo Alternative’ amendment to the Local Planning Scheme.
Some of the objectives are more challenging (like reducing commercial vacancy rates in a difficult economic climate). However, keeping focussed on the goals and being clear and detailed about what can be done, such as through the new Destination Marketing Strategy, provide the best opportunities for success. Strategy-specific reports (like those on the One Planet Strategy found here) provide detailed updates on progress of individual initiatives. A simpler, more user-friendly reporting system is being considered as part of this review.
What are the proposed changes?
Proposed revisions to the Plan do not alter its overall direction, but do include some refinements and an updated list of Strategic Projects.
Changes proposed are generally minor in nature and include:
Greater emphasis on Fremantle’s economic strengths in health, education, tourism and the creative industries.
Greater reference to Fremantle’s role as a port.
Acknowledgement of the need to work with the community to achieve environmental sustainability.
Inclusion of reference to innovative technology in pursuing sustainability.
Greater reference to design in achieving balanced (cycle and pedestrian friendly) transport options and combination of some transport measures to reduce overlap.
Replacement of reference to light rail with ‘high frequency fixed route public transport’ to acknowledge the potential for other technologies (for example ‘trackless trams’).
Greater acknowledgement of and reference to pre-European heritage.
Promotion of housing diversity as well as affordability.
Incorporation of reference to recreation nodes (as well as other public spaces) as important ‘places for people’.
Amendment of the health and happiness goal to recognise both physical and social environments.
Grouping of ‘Strategic Projects’ and inclusion of links to key delivery strategies.
Inclusion of reference to redevelopment precincts as important in delivering population-lead revitalisation and other objectives.
How do I get involved?
The current Strategic Community Plan was prepared with extensive community input and the direction set aligns with the feedback received through other engagement exercises such as the biennial Community Perceptions Surveys. The review process provides a further opportunity for community to comment on the Plan and express areas of agreement, concern and priority. Feedback on the review is now invited and will be reported to Council for its consideration before it formally decides what revisions to make.
A database of interested people will also be maintained which can feed into the major review of the document (planned for 2021/22).
If you are interested in getting more involved, attending your local Precinct meeting provides an ongoing and open forum for community participation. Information on Fremantle’s Precinct Groups can be found here. If you are more interested in a specific issue, other groups and forums exist which might meet your needs: the Fremantle Community Directory provides a place to start looking.