Photo of an outdoor shopping mall. A large green dinosaur sits in the middle of the street as children play nearby

What is placemaking?

Placemaking is a collaborative process which creates opportunities and re-imagines places people love.

The process of placemaking empowers local communities and stakeholders to shape their own places, solve local problems, help neighbours and colleagues and lead the change they want to see.

Community development, arts, cultural development, urban design, events, activation and economic development are among the many important components of placemaking, but it is people who are central to placemaking because it is people who bring places to life.

Placemaking Grants
Local residents and groups can apply for a grant of up to $4,500 to deliver projects that provide social, economic and cultural benefits in Nillumbik. Applications open in September each year. Find out about the Placemaking Grants and view information about previous Placemaking Grant recipients.

Benefits of placemaking

  • Builds civic pride and social responsibility
  • Creates happier, healthier and more connected citizens
  • Unlocks volunteerism, partnerships and co-contribution of resources
  • Stimulates local economies and supports economic resilience
  • Attracts visitation, entrepreneurs and investment
  • Celebrates sense of belonging and identity

Nillumbik’s Placemaking Principles

Strategic vision

Create a shared vision that builds on local strengths and solves local problems.

Only then can you successfully harness energy, build relationships and work towards a common goal.


Match energy with energy.

Find the people, businesses and organisations with the energy, the spark, the idea and the drive.

Partner with them to build capacity.


Creativity enables alternative, non-linear thinking, builds empathy and opens up new possibilities.

Embed creativity into every-day processes, project teams and outcomes.


Local knowledge provides a strong foundation.

Those who inhabit a place can deeply appreciate its unique heritage, character, culture and strengths.

Tap into local knowledge and actively work to enhance equity within participation and build social capital.


Having fun, with serious intent, will create better outcomes for staff, communities and places.

Maximise opportunities to bring a sense of play and celebration every step of the way.

Types of placemaking

One size does not fit all when working within local people, places and dynamic ecosystems.

Tailored processes may draw on diverse combinations of the following typical project archetypes, from tactical action on the ground to strategic place planning.

Tactical placemaking

Photo of children playing in a playground

Tactical, low cost, pilots to test ideas and solutions, evaluate effectiveness and de-risk change before investing significant funds and making change permanent.

Project examples:

  • Verge gardens and revegetation
  • Street beautification and activation
  • Yarn bombing
  • Pop-up bike path
  • Alternative traffic calming
  • ‘Palette’ seating nodes

Community projects

Photo of a tree covered in yellow and orange yarn and pom poms

Community-led projects and ephemeral activation to build social capital and local networks.

Project examples:

  • Place Shapers program
  • Community grant projects
  • Locally-led events and activations
  • Community festivals
  • Community gardens
  • Neighbourhood street parties and play streets
  • Co-design projects

Creative and cultural placemaking

Photos of an outdoor wall on a street, the wall is covered by a mural of different types of plants

Creative and cultural projects to enhance sense of belonging, identity and purpose.

Project examples:

  • Ephemeral installations
  • Murals - including wall, road and pavement artwork
  • Art classes in public space
  • ‘Learn to speak’ language meet ups in local cafes
  • Cultural gatherings and events
  • Local arts festivals

Economic development

Photo of a fence covered in a promotional banner that reads

Business networks, place management and activation to create sticky places to attract visitation, support economic vitality and resilience.

Project examples:

  • Shopfront improvement and vacancy programs
  • Markets
  • Establishment of and collaboration with local Business Associations
  • Place branding and marketing
  • Place management and activations of activity centres
  • Shop local campaigns

Strategic place planning

Aerial illustration of a piece of land with townhouses

Placemaking strategies and visions for revitalisation, to guide future direction and investment.

Project examples:

  • Shared place visions
  • Placemaking action plans - shared vision, place management/activation, marketing. Two year timeframe.
  • Place plans - shared vision, capital works upgrades, place management/activation and marketing. Five year timeframe.
  • Value adding structure plans, masterplans, streetscape upgrades and capital works projects.

Placemaking Framework

The Nillumbik Placemaking Framework is designed to support Council staff, Councillors, community members, traders, stakeholders, contractors and consultants to plan and deliver placemaking projects.

Framework purpose

  • Establish a shared understanding of placemaking
  • Outline a set of guiding principles that underpin Council's approach to placemaking and place based projects
  • Build the organisation’s confidence and capacity to deliver placemaking outcomes
  • Facilitate enhanced relationships with the community

Download Nillumbik’s Placemaking Framework(PDF, 2MB)

Placemaking spectrum

The Placemaking Spectrum is a tool to provide placemaking project planning guidance for staff, stakeholders and community.

  Provider  Facilitator Enabler
Council's role

Planning, communications, promotions, deliverer, evaluation

Motivator, mentor, advocate, collaborator, promotions, approvals, co-deliverer, co-evaluation Motivator, capacity builder, mentor, grant funder, promotions, advocate, approvals
Promise to the public by Council "We will lead on your behalf, undertake placemaking pilots and projects, evaluate outcomes and keep you informed" "We will work with local communities and stakeholders to understand local problems and identify solutions. We will invite you into placemaking project planning, delivery and evaluation" "We will build your capacity, provide placemaking resources, then get out of the way so you can lead local projects yourself"
Example techniques
  • Pilot tactical urbanism interventions, installations and placemaking projects
  • Undertake social impact measurement and evaluation to understand the effectiveness of interventions
  • If you are not measuring it's just a pop-up
  • Engagement, if included, generally limited to trial outcomes

  • Observational place research to understand use, behaviours and local problems
  • Engagement with communities and stakeholders on placemaking projects to understand problems and identify solutions/opportunities
  • Delivery of placemaking projects that consider social, cultural, economic, environmental ecosystem values
  • Explore opportunities to invite communities and stakeholders into project delivery
  • Undertake demonstration project and evaluate to understand the effectiveness

  • Placemaking grant stream for communities and traders
  • Mentoring system - staff supporting community projects
  • Capture placemaking grant projects via quality photography and videography
  • Marketing program to promote placemaking achievements and inspire/mobilise communities
  • Community training - placemaking projects, event planning/delivery, visual merchandising, social media promotions
  • Grow placemaking volunteer base
  • Train key volunteers to support road closures and event management

Community's role Participant, co-promotion, evaluation, feedback Collaborator, community connector, co-deliverer, co-evaluations, volunteer, promotions, participant Planning, communications, sponsorship, promotions, deliverer, volunteer, evaluation
Community expectations "Council should do it all" "Let's work together, we share responsibility" "Get out of our way, we got this"
IAP2 level Inform Consult, Involve and Collaborate Empower


Community-led placemaking

Want to run your own project in a public space?

Have you considered…

  • Why is this project needed?
  • Priorities identified in the Council Plan, Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plan, Shire Vision?
  • How will you do it?
  • Who is it for?
  • Who will be involved?
  • Where will it be?

Key principles of community-led placemaking

Source: Community-led Placemaking Manual by Co-design Studio 2019

Ready to go?

Before setting out on your community-led placemaking journey, reflect on your readiness to lead the implementation of a project in your community. This includes an honest assessment of the level of support available to you for trying a new way and the appetite for change in your neighbourhood. If you haven’t already, this is a great time to gather a team to assist you in delivering your project. We recommend at least four people.

Take the time to get the support of your community by sharing your ideas. You may also like to reach out to our Placemaking team at Nillumbik Shire Council to let us know you are keen to instigate positive changes in your community. Establishing a relationship with Council will put you in a great place to tackle some of the challenges that you may face during project design and implementation.

The journey

The most important success factor of all is the willingness to learn. Trying something new can be difficult and things don’t always work out as planned. Try to remember this, set realistic expectations and see the stumbling blocks as learning opportunities rather than failure.

Make sure to document this journey. This can be as simple as capturing ‘before’ and ‘after’ images or asking a videographer to capture an event or project installation. Alternatively you can get creative and start a blog, video log or social media account, capturing your experience and sharing it with your community.

Project plan

Each step of this guide is associated with an activity or worksheet. Upon completion, these worksheets will form your project plan. It is important to tick off each item on the checklist before moving on to the next step.

Small steps to start now

Some of the things in the guide can be started today:

  • Interest: speak to others, share your idea and gain an insight into others’ thoughts and the perceived need for your project idea.
  • Research: Make use of the resources that are available online to see what is involved in delivering a placemaking project. Look at examples of what other successful placemaking projects have looked like – these could be in your neighbourhood or elsewhere. Check out Co-design studio as a great starting point!
  • Council: As part of your research reach out to Placemaking Officers or other key staff at Nillumbik Shire Council. This can provide you with an initial idea of the support available, approvals and processes required to make your project happen, or link you to examples of other similar projects and groups in your community.

Big steps to plan ahead for

Some aspects of this guide require some forward thinking to avoid potential roadblocks along the way:

  • Consider what you will need for your project, and what you can commit to. What resources will you need and what do you already have available to you? Who will be supportive? Who may be challenging in delivering your project idea? (e.g. landowners).
  • You will also need to consider things like planned holidays or the season in which you are planning your activation that may make committing to intended timelines difficult. For example, avoid outdoor activities in the middle of winter, planting a community garden in the middle of summer or planning a school activation over school holidays.

Placemaking at Nillumbik

Find out more about current or recent placemaking projects undertaken by Council.


Nillumbik Shire Council joined with Monash University’s gender, design and space specialists, XYX Lab, and digital consultancy, CrowdSpot, to gather perceptions of safety in public space and make real change in our local area.

Residents, workers and visitors to Nillumbik were encouraged to log their perceptions of safety in public places on an interactive map to help make more inclusive space for everyone to enjoy leisure, sport and play. Launched on 27 May 2021, YourGround maps local streets, parks, trails and recreational spaces, sharing the often hidden experiences of safety for women and gender-diverse people.

Statistics show that movement and access is restricted for women and gender-diverse people due to fear, violence and harassment: while 80% of Australian men report feeling safe while walking alone at night, a 2019 Community Council for Australia report notes that only 50% of women say the same. With the implementation of Victoria’s Gender Equality Act 2020, creating inclusive spaces for women and gender-diverse people is a priority state-wide.

YourGround is a proactive tool to help make positive change in our shared public spaces - spaces that should be accessible to everyone. The map crowdsourced data, allowing users to anonymously drop a pin, tell a story or share an experience while out for leisure, sport, exercise or play. After being collated and analysed this data was used to provide insights to make our cities, towns, parks and sporting and community spaces more inclusive and equitable.

The map was made accessible across Victoria and was open to anyone over 18 years identifying as a woman or gender diverse. YourGround project partners include local and state government supporters, including more than 15 Victorian councils and municipalities. Data gathered was managed by XYX Lab and CrowdSpot, and the project has been through Monash University ethics requirements.

The YourGround interactive map is available to view online.

Place Shapers program

The Place Shapers program was first held in 2021. The program was designed to empower local people to help make our community a better place for everyone, providing local people with the resources and skills to implement their own community projects.

In 2022, two successful Council programs joined forces to support rural communities with their bushfire preparedness initiatives. Communities First joined Nillumbik Place Shapers to create a unique program, assisting community members to develop placemaking projects that focus on community preparedness and resilience.

Additional support and resources

View other pages on our website

Contact us

Placemaking Officers
03 9433 3111