Another first for the ‘first village in the hills’

Article image - Another first for the ‘first village in the hills’ The development of the Crafers Village Design Guidelines was led by Adelaide Hills Council staff James Szabo, Sarah Hill [pictured] with Marc Salver and Jennifer Blake, in conjunction with WAX Design.

Genuine community engagement remains vital during COVID-19 restrictions, so Adelaide Hills Council, South Australia, applied innovative thinking, transferring recent important community consultation online using a range of digital tools.

The community embraced the interactive opportunities to help develop a strategic direction for the historic and picturesque Crafers Village.

Initial plans for community consultation included walking tours, face-to-face focus groups and workshops but when social distancing restrictions disrupted this approach Council pivoted, developing targeted digital opportunities including a video virtual walking tour led by design consultant Warwick Keates.

Community Engagement Coordinator, Sarah Hill said the use of digital tools, including video, Zoom and online forums, ensured that all interested community members could contribute to consultation events safely. 

“Moving the collaboration process online allowed people to ask questions through the feedback portal, place pins on a digital map to identify areas for improvement and have the chance to join four virtual project meetings.

“These conversations really brought to life their feedback and contribution to the project, so much more than we could have ever got from just a survey.

“The success of the online process proves that people do care and want to take part in community engagement, and the flexibility of being able to stay in their own homes, especially in winter, was a huge bonus.”

Senior Strategic and Policy Planner, James Szabo said the innovative engagement process demonstrated the shared passion among the participants to create a ‘better Crafers’. 

“The online discussions provided an intimate setting for people to share their stories about Crafers which gave us a wealth of insight and truly genuine solutions that we fed into the final design guidelines.

“We were thrilled with the contributions made by the community project group who have significantly shaped the strategic direction for the Crafers Village Design Guidelines expected to be officially endorsed by Council in September.”