An initiative by the Rand Town Improvement Committee with the assistance of Regional Design Service, PLAN RAND established a strategic vision for the rural township towards its centenary in 2026. The purpose of PLAN RAND was to collate and articulate the communities’ vision, whilst proposing ongoing placemaking projects.
A small town of approximately 200 people in the Riverina district of NSW, Rand was the terminus of the Rand railway line from Henty, which closed in 1975. As with many rural towns, locals have slowly moved away, and community funding is generally reactive to local problems. Government funding rounds are haphazard, and applications are authored by community members in isolation of other applications across the community.
The brief was to develop a reference document for community members, in turn assisting with their capacity to justify project outcomes against other community aims and objectives.
The primary outcome was the creation of a strategic vision for community members to refer to when applying for government grants. It would also be used when communicating with Government representatives so they could effectively understand the context of Rand, and why small projects could build towards larger Placemaking Strategies.
Engagement with PLAN RAND has been a success - In addition to securing grants and appointing professional services, in less than 12 months since delivery of PLAN RAND, the community has nearly completed amenities upgrades in two venues, engaged a landscape architect for new parklands, and finished various other town improvements.
PLAN RAND equipped the local community with the tools to self-initiate ongoing investment and development in their township. Further to this, there has been a noticeable increase in local volunteerism, awareness of their built and natural environment and a commitment to seeing the township turn around population decline.
From a commercial perspective, the community was awarded almost 25% of the Federation Council regions $1M Drought Funding in 2019. Projects funded were all recommendations of PLAN RAND, which included the delivery of accessible amenities and improvements to encourage overnight tourist visits.
PLAN RAND was co-designed by the Rand Town Improvement Committee and Regional Design Service on a pro-bono basis. Whilst the initiative aimed to deliver better built outcomes for this community specifically, it can also now act as a crucial reference piece for other small rural communities to work towards enhancing outcomes in their own context.
While community planning is generally coordinated by local councils, this project provides a case study for direct engagement between the community and design specialists.
Our aim as a practice is to further explore how the rural community planning process can define the community as the ‘Client’ and local Council as a ‘Stakeholder’.