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The annual Operational Plan is a detailed sub-set of the Delivery Program, adopted before the beginning of each financial year, and listing the individual actions (projects and activities) that will be undertaken (plus Council's Revenue Policy).

a) Generating specific four and one year actions from broad Community Strategic Plan strategies 

In accordance with the logic of the IP&R framework, the broad strategies in the Community Strategic Plan can be used to generate a list of key activities and actions for possible inclusion in their Delivery Program and Operational Plan (as shown in the tables below) and through the reality check of the Resourcing Strategy.

Active living objective: A physically active community

Broad strategiesPossible activities/ actions

Provide quality open space, sporting and recreation facilities accessible for all ages, ethnicities, ability-levels and socio-economic groups 

  • Provide an appropriate range of high quality passive and active open spaces
  • Manage and maintain sporting and recreation facilities for maximum community use and value
  • Create new open spaces as opportunities arise

Ensure a range of physical activities is available for all ages, ethnicities, ability-levels and socio-economic groups 

  • Provide and promote physical activity-based community development programs and activities

Ensure active travel options (such as walking, cycling and public transport) are readily available, between home, centres and attractions. 

  • Encourage walking and cycling: a network of safe and convenient walking paths and cycleways linking major land uses and recreation opportunities
  • Provide sustainable and accessible transport choices and improved interaction between modes
  • Promote public transport and infrastructure improvements
  • Implement appropriate traffic management methods
  • Plan and develop higher density land uses in and around town centres
  • Manage car parking, to balance convenience with reduced car reliance
  • Inform, educate and encourage the community to use sustainable transport
  • Demonstrate leadership in active travel implementation

Ensure that localities are walkable 

  • Require subdivisions to embody strong physical connections and walkability
  • Prepare and implement Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plans (PAMPs)
  • Implement ongoing works and maintenance programs

Provide streets are attractive and safe 

  • Prepare and implement public domain plans/ street planting master plans
  • Develop Asset Management Plans for streetscape assets
  • Adopt CPTED principles and practices as Council policy 

Provide town centres and other key destinations that are safe, vibrant and attractive, day and night

  • Encourag appropriate land uses in Town Centres
  • Prepare and implementing public domain plans
  • Provide and promote activities within Centres (day and night)

Require private developments to address the street and be well connected to movement systems 

  • Ensure that local environments are permeable, encouraging walking to key destinations
  • Require active street frontages in Town Centres
  • Require private developments to contribute to the street
  • Require signposting to movement networks for major developments 

Undertake education activities to promote active living

  • Provide and promoting community education programs on the virtues of active living
  • Provide ongoing opportunities for dialogue
  • Provide information about active living related events

Healthy eating objective: Implement measures that support and promote healthy eating

Broad strategiesPossible activities/ actions

Undertake education activities and provide information to promote healthy food options 

Promote sustainable food practices 

  • Support training and mentoring of local producers
  • Provide coverage in State of the Environment Report
  • Implement Council procurement policy on sustainable food practices

Increase community access to healthy food options

  • Ensure that healthy food outlets are easily accessible by active travel
  • Promote the availability of healthy food outlets and community markets with a variety of healthy, accessible and culturally appropriate foods.
  • Support and promote healthier choices in food outlets eg. community supermarkets
  • Consider adopting the Healthier Oils Initiative to reduce saturated and trans fat intake in the community (eg Cessnock City Council)
  • Provide fresh drinking water in public places
  • Promote regional cooperation and outlets
  • Implement a Council procurement policy on healthy food options
  • Promote healthy food options in Council-operated and leased premises

Maintain and extend participation in local and regional food production and exchange

  • Provide a directory of local/ regional producers
  • Develop Council policies on local food production
  • Enable planting on community land (open space, schools and verges)
  • Require communal gardens to be options in within private development proposals

Protect and utilise land appropriate for local and regional food production; a robust approach, promoting future innovation.

  • Protecting prime agricultural land and increasing its take-up for food production.  
  • Increasing the percentage of locally grown food that is sold locally.
  • Promoting urban agriculture.
  • Supporting and resourcing for school and community gardens.
  • Participating in regional food security networks and encouraging regional food-based events.
  • Exercising care with reclassification of community land.

Provide local technical input into the preparation and implementation of District Plans and Regional Growth Plans on the location and nature of food related land uses.

  • In collaboration with the State Government, facilitating the masterplanning of Centres and Redevelopment Areas, including preferred location and siting of food-related production/processing industries and retail outlets (such as supermarkets, shops and food and drink premises).
  • Promoting revitalisation of existing Main Streets (where applicable)
  • Developing local policy and procedures for non-traditional food-related uses such as community gardens, farmer's markets, roadside stalls, verge planting and vertical planting.

Promote private investment and innovation in healthy food 

  • Grow reputation as a regional food destination
  • Support production and sale of local/ regional produce

Ensure food preparation and handling are clean and safe 

  • Carry out ngoing monitoring of food shops
  • Provide training to support local producers/ suppliers

Minimise food waste to landfill and link initiatives with healthy eating practices

  • “Waste Not” guidelines
  • Promote food redistribution services
  • Promote healthy fresh food options and home preparation of healthy food (eg Love Food Hate Waste
  • Install drinking fountains to reduce waste from beverage containers

b) The role of existing and future strategy documents    

The IP&R Manual (2013) acknowledges the possible role of free-standing ‘other strategic plans’ in elaborating on the broad strategies listed in the Community Strategic Plan – a way to break down broad matters covered in the vision and assist in prioritising matters for coverage at the implementation stage (via the specific Delivery Program and Operational Plan). In many circumstances these strategies/plans already exist, and in some case study councils they are being reviewed, refined and consolidated.

Some of the plans and policies cited in the case study councils are directly relevant to active living and healthy eating.  These include:

  • Health Plan
  • Food Plan
  • Structure Plans
  • Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan (PAMP)
  • Bike Plan
  • Disability action plans and access policy
  • Social Plan
  • CBD Strategy/ Masterplan
  • Environmental Management Strategy
  • Plans of Management for Community Land
  • Section 94 contribution plan(s)
  • Multicultural/ diversity plan

If community health and well-being is seen to be a community priority, then Council could prepare a “Community Health and Well-being Strategy”, and include coverage of active living and healthy eating.

c) Options for moving from the Community Strategic Plan to the Delivery Program and Operational Plan

Four options are available to local councils to elaborate on the Community Strategic Plan provisions: 

  1. As activities detailed in a broad Community Health and Wellbeing Strategy, the progress of which would be listed in the Delivery Program, with specific priority actions in the Operational Plan. Such a strategy could address other matters such as social connectivity.
  2. As free-standing Active Living and Healthy Food Strategies, the progress of which would be listed in the Delivery Program with specific actions in the Operational Plan.
  3. As specific activities and actions in the Delivery Program and Operational Plan.
  4. A combination of the above options eg. progress of the Strategy (broad or free-standing) as a Delivery Program “activity” plus specific Delivery Program and Operational Plan actions.

Some suggest that having a generalised, non-specific Delivery Program (reliant on detailed strategies) provides flexibility, enabling reaction to windfalls (such as grant funding success) and shifts in priority (from Councillors or staff). 

In the absence of a Strategy document, local councils could pursue specific "activities" and "actions" in their Delivery Program and Operational Plan.  Sample "action tables" for active living and healthy eating that suggest how specific activities and actions could be pursued are provided. In the tables links are provided to case studies. For example, the Foodlinks “Toolkit” provides model policies, application forms, guidelines and case studies.

d) Allocation of responsibilities and priorities 

It is at the Delivery Program/Operational Plan stage that specific responsibilities are allocated for activities, and for monitoring their success. Some local councils include such matters in their Delivery Program in matrix form.

StrategiesDelivery ProgramOperational planResponsible ManagerPerformance indicators
         

It should also be reiterated that it is not local councils' responsibility to deliver every aspect of their Community Strategic Plan. Some community ambitions are State (or Federal) government responsibilities eg. a new hospital. In such cases local councils could adopt an advocacy and/or a partnership role. Other external partners within the broad community (including volunteer groups) could also be included. The matrix format could be used to identify such actions. 

Some larger local councils with extensive Works Programs and Project Schedules hive off the specific detailed listings into separate working documents or “business plans” operating at the ground level. In such cases the Operational Plan (and the Delivery Program) could be summary versions (eg. ‘…as per the Strategic Planner’s Works program’).

The procedures for generating priorities will depend upon individual local councils’ corporate structures and management regimes. Ideally, community-based priorities will result from the community engagement processunderpinning the Community Strategic Plan. Final lists of four and one year actions will be the subject of ‘normal’ budgetary negotiations and political priorities. 

e) Incorporating current activities and services: flowing up the framework and meeting at the Delivery Program

Local councils consulted during the development of this Guide indicated that specific actions listed in the Delivery Program and prioritised in the Operational Plan often reflect existing (and perhaps long standing) principal activities/services. Initiatives introduced in previous Management Plans, based on previous community engagement processes and consistent with current community views, would continue through into new Delivery Programs.

In other words, as well as cascading down the hierarchy, details also flow up from existing actions and services to meet at the Delivery Program (see Figure 2). In some local councils, the balance may be in favour of existing services and activities (with responsibility to single functional areas/ departments) but, over time, the balance should shift. Case study councils with the benefit of previous strategic planning processes were adamant that the higher order objectives and strategies in the Community Strategic Plan (generated by community engagement) predominate, and that allocation of tasks and coordination across functional areas is achieved (through the Workforce Plan).

IPR Framework graphic

Figure 2: Up and down the IPR hierarchy

One large rural council purposely specifies ‘new initiatives’ in their Delivery Program, distinguishing such proposed actions from current or ongoing activities. While such initiatives should be part of the overall Delivery Program, specifically highlighting them is a positive action.

(f) Key players and drivers 

The significance of “drivers”/ champions to work within the local council hierarchy (and externally) is one way to promote objectives and strategies and act as principal contacts. For instance, when local councils’ organisational structure requires action across divisions and in circumstances where council does not favour a freestanding Community Health and Wellbeing Strategy. This could be a dedicated staff person or a Councillor. For example, Kiama’s groundbreaking Health Plan was championed by their previous, long-standing Mayor (and a dedicated staff member).

Key staff players are found in the following functional areas (departmental names will vary between local councils):

  • Community Services on active living and healthy eating promotion and programs and connections to relevant community based organisations.
  • Parks and Reserves (usually within Engineering/ Technical Services) on open space management (via Plans of Management). Also, volunteers under Bushcare/ Parkcare policies.
  • Council Transport Planners/ Engineers, Road Safety Officers and Local Traffic Committees on Integrated Transport Planning and traffic management plans and actions.
  • State Agencies on agricultural land and food production/ distribution.
  • State Agencies on legal requirements and grant funding.
  • Strategic Land-use Planners for managing growth (eg. new release areas) and urban renewal programs.
  • Development Assessment Planners for implementing Development Control Plan provisions and development contributions.

As most physical activity (and some food events/ planting) takes place in the public domain, local councils’ Works Division (Engineers) should be targeted for support. In another two roles they are also responsible for traffic planning/ management and local council reserves.

Coordination of staff, ideally through Workforce Plans, would be a Corporate Services responsibility. Specific examples would be:

  • Multi-disciplinary teams to deal with particular key issues (or places)
  • Regular coordination meetings
  • Place Managers, in some local councils, for coordinating day-to-day activities in Centres – educating, briefing, negotiation with key stakeholders (eg. food outlets); arranging public domain events

Last, and certainly not least, are the elected Councillors who ratify the budget and set priority actions. Local elected representatives can introduce actions to works programs and set priorities. Organising briefing sessions for Councillors (and involvement in committees) can also be useful. If these matters are a significant goal, a formal Council Committee could be formed.

In the negotiation of annual priorities, identification and ongoing representations/ contact with relevant key players would assist in promoting discussion and, hopefully, inclusion on one year Operational Plan and four year Delivery Program lists.

(g) Reviewing Delivery Program and Operational Plan priorities: flexibility in the system 

The list of priorities in the local council’s Operational Plan (as a sub-set of the four year Delivery Program) should be adjusted in response to changing local and broader circumstances. As a result, promotion of active living and healthy eating initiatives should be ongoing in the negotiation process.

As indicated above, such flexibility takes into account major developments such as changes in the economic climate but, in a positive sense, also enables local councils to respond to opportunities that arise. In relation to active living, this could be the opportunity to purchase strategically located lands (eg. to enhance local pedestrian connections or embellish open space) or to utilise bequests and other financial windfalls.