UTS Library

The Kenmore Bypass Planning Study

Client: 

Department of Main Roads

PR Company: 

The Phillips Group Pty Ltd

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2009 C6 - 20

Year: 

2009

Executive Summary: 

When the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) commenced a planning study to investigate the possibility of constructing a three kilometre road bypass through residential Kenmore, it polarised the community and sparked an intensive ‘anti-bypass’ campaign from some local residents.

Key challenges included: engaging a well-educated, sceptical and mistrusting community; positioning DTMR as the project leader within an environment where the agenda was being dominated by local opinion leaders; and clearly communicating the project scope and purpose to encourage informed feedback that could be used to help shape bypass planning.

The communications goal was to engage all sectors of the community to identify key issues in relation to bypass design. The strategic approach involved a two-staged consultation process focussed on informing and educating stakeholders, and building trust and transparency to ensure a genuine and effective consultation process could occur, untarnished by negative information circulating within the community.

DTMR addressed this challenge through a proactive ‘community tailored’ approach, far exceeding its standard consultation framework. It resulted in the initially outraged community shifting to one that understood the planning process and worked with the project team to ensure planning options reflected community needs.

Situation Analysis: 

The Kenmore Bypass is a three kilometre transport corridor that has been preserved by the State Government since the 1970s. Opening the corridor would significantly reduce traffic on Moggill Road through Kenmore, which is the only major access to the CBD from the western suburbs, and is heavily congested during peak times.

High levels of residential development have occurred directly adjacent to the preserved corridor, which is currently enjoyed as green space in the quiet, leafy suburb of Kenmore. If the bypass proceeds, this perceived green space would become a four-lane road and up to 85 properties could be resumed.

Following preliminary studies that showed a Kenmore Bypass would significantly improve traffic conditions on Moggill Road, DTMR began a planning study to seek community feedback into the development of a preferred bypass planning option.

The study area population is educated, affluent, online-literate and politically-savvy. The consultation plan needed to address high levels of outrage in the immediate bypass vicinity, as well as scepticism and mistrust more broadly within the community. Effective and ‘community tailored’ consultation was integral in uncovering key issues and ensuring community knowledge and concerns could be captured and reflected throughout the planning process.

Research: 

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Target Policies: 

Project stakeholders were defined in four main groups:

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Communication Strategy: 

To guide the community through the planning process and encourage meaningful feedback, an intensive, tailored and highly responsive communications approach was implemented to reduce scepticism and appeal to the needs of the highly educated and online community.

The overarching strategy was implemented through a three-staged consultation process:

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Stage 1 – Raise awareness

 

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Stage 2 – Draft planning options

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Stage 3 – Preferred planning option (not yet completed).

The strategic approach implemented was:

Implementation: 

The key aim of Stage 1 was to inform the community that the project had started and seek general feedback in relation to a Kenmore Bypass. The feedback received could then assist the project team in better understanding the key issues when developing the planning options.

The key aim of Stage 2 was to seek feedback on the draft planning options to ensure community input could be considered in the development of the preferred option.


The original implementation plan can be found in Appendix B1.


New approach:

It was identified early in the process that standard consultation activities would not be adequate for this project. The key approach to be used throughout the program to build trust and transparency was that of online and email communication to ensure speed, spread and accuracy of information distribution and no information void at any time.

The project website was regularly updated and contained an unprecedented level of publicly available information, including detailed maps of the options and technical reports.

Email ‘blasts’ to a growing database of more than 3,200 stakeholders were adopted as a highly effective technique in creating a ‘voice’ for DTMR amongst the hype within the community, and to help proactively manage escalating issues.

This was not a traditional consultation approach for DTMR, but was essential in building the trust of the community and integral to the success of the program.


Targeted issue-specific engagement

Where relevant, engagement was tailored to certain stakeholders based on the project’s potential impact and relevance. For example, information about potential land requirements was only made available to those property owners directly impacted, as it was a sensitive issue and property owners may not want such information released into the public arena. Also, in Stage 2, stakeholders living within the vicinity of a proposed road severance were engaged specifically and directly (see Appendix A1 & A2).

Key achievements in each stage:

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Results: 

The key achievement of the consultation was building trust and educating the community about the planning process to ensure meaningful feedback that could be used in the development of planning options. The initially sceptical and mistrusting community eventually began to understand that regardless of their position on the project, this was an opportunity to have their say and ensure that, if the project did proceed, they could influence the outcome in some way.

 

There was a drastic shift in the nature of feedback received in Stage 1 compared to Stage 2. In Stage 1, due to activities of local opinion leaders, there was a perception people could ‘vote’ on whether a bypass should proceed. The vast majority of feedback received was simply opinion-based – i.e. supporting or opposing the project. More than 6,000 submissions were received in a six-week timeframe. While important to understand community sentiment, such feedback was not useful in uncovering specific issues in relation to bypass design.

 

In Stage 2, through dedicated actions of the project team to educate the community, feedback received was significantly more informed and focussed on design-related outcomes. This is evidenced by number of submissions which decreased dramatically, from 6,150 in Stage 1, reflecting pent-up frustration built up over many years, to 1,067 in Stage 2, where people were more willing and able to effectively participate in the consultation process (see Appendix B3 for a breakdown of key issues in Stages 1 and 2).

Evaluation: 

The success of the entire campaign has been ranked as

 

High.  During the consultation program, the shift in community attitudes and willingness to participate in the consultation process changed dramatically. Through a dedicated and genuine effort to engage and educate the community about the study process, feedback received shifted from simply opinions on the bypass, to being highly informed and educated about the planning options and therefore, extremely valuable in ensuring the final option will reflect community needs.


Measurable evaluation was achieved through feedback recording in Consultation Manager.


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