COVID-safe engagement to inform the future of Oxford Street

City of Sydney

Oxford Street Strategic Review consultation

Despite significant work to revitalise the Oxford Street corridor, local residents and businesses remain concerned that the vibrancy once felt in the area has been lost and there is a strong desire to see the area enhanced and protected as a cultural and creative hub.

In March 2020, we were engaged by the City of Sydney to design and deliver community and stakeholder engagement to support the City’s strategic review of planning controls for the project area, with a view to changing them to better support the development of a cultural and creative precinct.

Cred, in partnership with the City, undertook a range of consultation with the community to inform the Strategic Review. With the project impacted by Sydney’s first pandemic lockdown, the engagement program was completely re-designed by Cred to be delivered either online, or in a COVID-safe manner.

How we did it

Our engagement program consisted of the following:

  • an online survey, designed with the City and Micromex Research, and analysed by Micromex
  • an online interactive walking tour
  • an online ‘love letter’ to Oxford Street
  • an unstaffed ‘chalk to us’ chalk board at the National Arts School
  • four online community workshops
  • ‘leave a message’ telephone number
  • footpath decals
  • consultation collateral, including a flyer and a poster.

Strategic communications to engage local pedestrians to have their say

Citizens were invited to write an online ‘Love Letter’ to Oxford Street. (Image source: Cred).
Elise discussing aims, needs and challenges with locals
Elise discussing aims, needs and challenges with locals
Cred’s community consultation with residents, businesses, landowners and targeted groups will inform the City of Sydney’s Oxford Street Strategic Review. (Source: Cred).
Elise talking through ideas on board with community members on Oxford Street
Night time engagement

The outcome

While having to pivot the engagement program through the challenges of lockdowns, the timing inspired a series of creative, fun and innovative engagement initiatives, including ‘digital love letters to Oxford Street.’ More than 1,700 people completed the online survey – 22 love letters were submitted, and 119 completed or partly-completed walking tours were taken.

The results of our program of community consultation with residents, businesses, landowners and targeted groups – including the LGBTQIA+ community – presents an exciting opportunity for the City to address the concerns raised about the area through the planning process.

The City’s Oxford Street Strategic Review will consider land-use planning approaches and controls to grow the cultural and creative sectors, protect heritage and character, and support the day and night-time economies for the local community and visitors repositioning Oxford Street as a vibrant cultural and creative precinct.

This project won the 2021 PIA Award for Planning Excellence in the Stakeholder Engagement category, recognising the targeted and creative engagement process led by Cred. The judges were impressed with Cred’s inspirational and inclusive approach to stakeholder engagement, which has played a critical role in informing and enhancing the planning review process for Oxford Street.