Heyford Reserve: almost a blank piece of paper
This experience was presented as a candidacy for the 8th IOPD Distinction " Best Practice in Citizen Participation"
Earlier in 2011 an old reserve in the Parafield Garden area of the City of Salisbury, South Australia - which included a playspace, grassed area and 3 hard courts for tennis and netball, was discussed at a Council meeting. The discussion centred on the need to do something with the land as it had fallen in to disrepair. Selling the land to housing developers was one option discussed however one elected member from the ward area where the reserve is located suggested that the community should be consulted on what to do with the reserve as it would be better off remaining in public use. The Council agreed and the Recreation and Open Space Planner was asked to write a report on the timelines and possibilities for engaging the community. No parameters were set for the consultation apart from barriers around the reserves boundary and preservation of certain trees on the reserve. In addition to this a small budget was identified for the overall reserve renewal work.
A Community Engagement plan was developed by the Councilï¿½s Community Engagement Officer in coordination with the Recreation and Open Space Planner and a Landscape Architect. The plan was to engage at a very local level around the reserve and include residents, local shoppers and a local school through using different face to face tools and techniques as well as later in the engagement some online options. The council endorsed the engagement plan and it commenced in November 2012 and was broken in to 3 stages.
In addition the Council also wanted to know if when renewing reserves did the community want to see fruit trees added and would they be used. This question was added as part of the consultation as a test case for future projects.
The consultation subsequently engaged residents at a local level using various tools and techniques across a range of engagement levels. The project team even developed a board game to be played with local school children so their voice would be heard as part of the decision and planning process.
The project ultimately turned became known as the old reserve, a blank piece of paper and no budget project.