Designing neighbourhoods with residents is good for community cohesion

Residents are empowered to connect with each other on the decisions that shape their communities, and are more likely to pull together in good times and bad.

Current partnerships

We’re working with multi-disciplinary teams to showcase the benefits of community decision-making for developments in inner, middle and outer Melbourne. 


393 Macaulay Road


Urban Coup




Beveridge North West Precinct Structure Plan

We are partnering with multi-disciplinary teams to test collaborative decision-making methods that create opportunities for communities to be more cohesive and equitable.
Teams include property developers, community engagement experts, local councils and academics. The teams will apply collaborative decision-making to the following developments:

  • Urban Coup’s Near and Tall
  • 393 Macaulay Road in Kensington
  • Beveridge North West Precinct Structure Plan
  • Olivine

  • Background

    During the development of our resilience strategy, we consulted with property company representatives, local government and place making and urban development experts. At these consultations, participants identified a link between connected communities and people being better prepared to cope in times of acute shock or chronic stress.
    Following consultations, we launched our Resilient Communities initiative in September 2017, inviting expressions of interest from applicants with a residential or mixed-use development underway in metropolitan Melbourne to work with us to test participatory approaches or models that engage communities in the decision-making process. We were interested in:

  • multi-unit buildings
  • urban renewal areas
  • neighbourhood or activity centres
  • greenfield precinct developments.

  • An Advisory Panel, including members from the Victorian Government, local government, the property sector, the University of Melbourne and RMIT assessed the expressions of interest received and selected a diverse set of sites to participate in the initiative.

    What is our role?

    We will:

  • work with partners to test innovative methodologies of positive engagement with future residents and surrounding communities to generate mutually beneficial community and commercial outcomes.
  • promote capacity-building within different types of communities to enable meaningful participation from diverse representatives in the development process.
  • contribute to research, learning and knowledge-sharing to inform emerging practices in collaborative and participatory development, design and decision-making. This will provide a critical point of reference nationally and internationally.

    Academic research

    Academic research will be central to the initiative in order to rigourously capture and share lessons from the projects. We are in discussion with a number of researchers from multiple academic institutions who are advising the best approach to undertake practical and applied research on the development projects.

  • Shocks
    Cohesive communities pull together and support one another in times of shock. These projects will address all shocks included in our resilience strategy.


  • Urban growth pressures
  • Disconnected communities
  • Lack of social cohesion
  • Lack of essential services and infrastructure
  • Social inequality
  • Lack of affordable housing

  • Participatory development uses various methods to empower citizens to engage in decision-making processes that shape neighbourhoods. Participatory development models exist on a spectrum from those that are completely community-led, such as the Baugruppen model, through to community engagement processes that incorporate community feedback into developer or architect-led projects, such as the 6 Star Communities approach.

    The Victorian Government’s Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 emphasises the importance of participatory development models, including new policies to strengthen community participation in planning. For example, this is central to Action 52, “Community participation in planning”.

    Resilient communities know their neighbours. Resilient communities are informed and empowered. Members of these communities self-organise and understand how to access resources and capabilities within and outside their community, in good times as well as in bad. They understand their own limitations and are integrated into other social networks that help them to adapt, survive and thrive.

    Participatory development contributes to building community resilience in two ways. First, it encourages and supports the development of strong community networks and leadership. It enables environments where community members can learn how to work in partnership with others.

    Second, neighbourhoods that are designed through collaboration with communities are more likely to meet residents’ needs. Their design can encourage social cohesion, liveability and wellbeing well beyond the timeframe of explicit community engagement efforts.

    Contact us

    Natalie McGlone, Resilient Communities Portfolio Manager

    Share this