Community Event Planning

Community Events form an essential part of our vibrant city - find out what is required to make your event a sucess.

Community Event Planning

We understand that planning an event can seem complicated so we've put together some resources to help make your event a success.

On this page you'll find:

  • Information to consider when planning your event
  • Information on compliance with council bylaws
  • Things to think about before, during and after your event
  • An events planning checklist

The information in this guide is suitable for small to medium sized events. For large events (300+attendees), please reach out to our Engagement Team ( for dedicated advice.

Summary Checklist

Summary checklist link here


If you have choice of venue, consider accessibility as part of the decision making process for where to hold the event.

Many access issues can be overcome, but some venues are easier than others to make accessible.

Deciding on a venue for your event

  • See council venue information on our website
  • To use one of council’s venues (e.g., community hall), you can request a booking here
  • If you want to use one of council’s sports grounds, you can request a booking here (Tip: You need permission to run a commercial activity or sell things at a sportsground, contact council for more info)
  • If you want to use one of council’s parks or reserves, you can request a booking here
  • If you want to use Dowse Square, you can request a booking here
  • If you're using a managed venue like Lower Hutt Events Centre or Ricoh Sports Centre then you should contact the venue directly and follow the instructions of venue staff

Venue considerations

  • Review potential venues early so you have time to put in place what is needed.
  • Take a detailed walk-through of the venue from the perspective of all the relevant groups. E.g. participants, competitors, performers, artists, spectators, supporters, crew, volunteers, etc.
  • Plan your signage to make is easy for guests to find their way around.
  • Seek expert advice. E.g. a wheelchair user will be able to explain any potential issues with a site.
  • Document the accessibility of each venue.


  • Check if you may qualify for community funding by checking out opportunities here
  • Check accessibility requirements set by your funders or sponsors. E.g. Hutt City Council may have requirements which they will discuss with you.
  • Check accessibility costs. E.g. accessible Portaloo, ramps and/or sign language interpreters.
  • Check for funding available for accessibility from your funders or others.
  • Plan how you will show your funders that your event has been accessible.

Costs to event attendees

  • Consider the costs that will be incurred by event attendees as part of deciding on a venue.  Cost can be a barrier for many.
  • Ensure the costs of this venue are going to result in an affordable event.

Disability access policy

  • Develop a policy that describes the event’s commitment to accessibility and inclusion and how the event will achieve this.


  • Do you have enough rubbish and recycling bins for your event? Don’t rely on public bins for your event, these are not designed to cater for the additional capacity that events bring.
  • If your event will have 1000 people or more attending, you must create a waste minimisation plan.

Food/kai and alcohol

  • Is there power if your suppliers need it for their food service?
  • If you’re preparing food to sell or give away make sure you follow these guidelines
  • We’d like you to use recyclable service ware as much as possible
  • If alcohol is available at your event please follow these liquor license guidelines

Health and Safety

Prepare a Health and safety plan, no matter how small your event is!

Parades (e.g. Christmas, Anzac Day)

  • If you are planning an event that will occupy space on a road, for safety you will need to close the road. To do this, you must submit a Traffic Management Plan to us here (Important: this must be done at least 90 days prior to your event date)
  • If there are road closures, there is a requirement for you to ensure all households impacted receive notice of the closure. The recommended approach is via a letter drop.


  • Have multiple options for getting to the event. The more the better.
  • Check for roadworks in the vicinity that may affect travel.
  • Bus travel

  • Easy access by bus.
  • Ensure buses are wheelchair accessible.
  • Know how far the venue is from the bus stop.
  • Offer the ability to wait undercover.
  • Promote the nearest bus routes and how/where to find the bus schedule.
  • Check real-time information such as road/route changes.
  • Check if you need extra buses.
  • Car travel

  • Provide directions on how to get there.
  • Offer a drop-off and pick-up point near the main entrance so a person with a disability can get close to the entrance and the car can be parked elsewhere.
  • Designated and ample mobility car parking.
  • Ability to extend mobility car parking as needed when people arrive.
  • Sign-posted accessible route from car parks to the event entrance.
  • If parking is not available, confirm where the nearest place people can park (including nearest mobility car parks).
  • Consider allowing parking to be booked or reserved.
  • Taxis

  • Designated taxi drop-off and pick-up point. Covered for those waiting is best.
  • Some people may use maxi taxis, which have a hoist and require space to lower and raise this.
  • Confirm the distance from the nearest taxi stand to the venue.
  • Entry and exit to the venue

  • Provide a site layout/map showing entry and exit points and other key features such as ramps.
  • Ramps to be compliant with the Building Code with respect to slope steepness and turns and have handrails and slip-resistant flooring.
  • If the accessible entrance is not the main entrance, confirm it be unlocked and unobscured and have good signage.
  • Automatic doors are preferred to turn-style entries or doors which are difficult to open.
  • Consider having an event staff member at the entry to assist.
  • Consider how people will exit the event in emergency situations:
    • Accessible emergency exits location.
    • Systems of allocating staff to assist people with disabilities.
    • Both visual and auditory signals.

Information about an event is essential to both the organisers and the attendees and communicating effectively with people with disabilities is fundamental.  If a potential attendee has a disability or would go to the event with a disabled person, this information is even more important.

From the attendee perspective, there are three key stages when information makes a difference: deciding whether to attend, putting in place any necessary arrangements and participating fully and positively in the event.

Promotional materials

  • Consider the format you will use to promote your event.
  • Have a range of formats to reach people with disabilities. E.g. printed material, large print, audio, website.
  • Printed material is large enough to read easily and has adequate colour contrast.
  • Website accessibility guidelines are met (e.g. readable by screen readers).

Contact information

  • Include contact email address, phone number and website address on promotional material.
  • Offer a method for people to ask questions, i.e. Contact us at….. if you have a question.
  • Ensure your event booking service know/can find answers to accessibility questions, or provide them with contact details for someone who can assist.

Event venue details

  • Clarity regarding the location of the event is important – street address, plus nearest landmarks, cross streets etc.
  • Maps are great, especially if they have accessibility features marked, e.g. mobility parking, accessible toilets.
  • Maps should be uncluttered with large font and good colour contrast. Web-based maps that enable size adjustments can be helpful.
  • Provide information about the type of venue, i.e. indoors or outdoors:
    • If outdoor, include ground surfaces that are easy for a person using a wheelchair to move over, e.g. even, firm, free of hazards.
    • If indoor, including if there is full access to all aspects of the event, i.e. level, ramps or steps.

Event timing

  • Include event start and end times to help with the planning of transport or care arrangements.
  • Include when the venue opens and closes.


  • Provide clear information on cost, including any costs beyond the entry fee.
  • Let people know about any concessions for carers, Community Services Card holders, KiwiAble Cardholders, or by age.
  • Include how to pay and who to contact for more information about costs.

    An event that is easy to move around is more enjoyable for everyone.

    Safe and usable

  • If your event is not level, ensure there are safe ramps or lift entry to all aspects of the event.
  • If there are barriers for people with mobility impairments, it is very important that this is made known so people can decide if they want to attend.
  • If seating location is restricted – people generally prefer to have a choice - this may deter attendees.
  • Have reception/information/payments desk height easily accessible to people in a wheelchair.
  • All ramps are compliant with the Building Code with respect to slope steepness and turns.
  • All ramps have handrails.
  • All ramps, stairs and other surfaces are slip-resistant.
  • Amenities

  • Include accessible EFTPOS and ATM machines.
  • A direct taxi phone line.
  • A hearing loop or other hearing assist device.
  • Getting around

  • Good signage – clear, legible, contrasting background, adequate size lettering.
  • Passageways are clear of obstacles.
  • Seating

  • Designated areas where people with disabilities may sit to best enjoy the event. This should be an option and not mandated seating.
  • Rest sitting is available throughout public spaces during the event.
  • Seating that is easy to get up from.
  • Furniture and fittings that are free of hazards.
  • Toilets

  • Ample accessible toilets, which may be permanent or portable.
  • Good signage to the accessible toilets.
  • An accessible family room.
  • Enough room for a person using a wheelchair to turn 360 degrees, and room for a companion.
  • Service dogs

  • A policy allowing access for a service dog.
  • Amenities for service dogs.

The confidence of staff and event personnel is fundamental to access.  Investing in improving the knowledge and skills of event staff and volunteers can have a positive payback.

Accessibility and inclusion are more likely if you have experienced staff and volunteers assisting disabled people, who understand their requirements and have the right skills and attitudes.

Assistance from event staff

  • Convey a willingness to listen and help.
  • Train staff on disability and access matters. This is often known as Disability Awareness, and might include definitions, etiquette, labels.
  • Have designated event staff or volunteers who can assist a person with a disability. Know where will the designated personnel be located.
  • All staff should know what to do when alerted to the potential need for assistance.
  • Consider location of staff, e.g. car park, entrance, to assist with seating
  • Ensure enough marshalls/volunteers.
  • Confirm if any staff/volunteers know sign language.
  • Do not assume a person in a wheelchair can get out of it (or if they can, that they want to)– everyone is an individual.
  • Not all disabilities are visible.


Audio description makes performances more accessible to people with visual impairments.   It is an additional narration track intended primarily for blind and visually impaired consumers of visual media (including television and film, dance, opera, and visual art).

A major goal of any event is for the participants to have their expectations met or exceeded.

We encourage you to identify whether there are any access and inclusion issues in your evaluation. You may find that funding is increasingly dependent on the evaluation of previous events, and being able to take a disability focus shows you take accessibility and inclusion seriously.

Evaluate your event

  • Find out if you met your event objectives
  • Find out how people heard about the event
  • Find out what participants liked and didn’t like, so you can make any changes for next time
  • Get an idea of how many people took part
  • Get information to help with planning the event next time
  • Get information for funders and sponsors


  • A survey should ask questions about access and other factors that affected access and inclusion.
  • If you have an online registration process, ask permission to contact participants after your event. This will enable you to send out a post-event survey.
  • You may offer a prize to those who return surveys online or at the event itself.
  • Your survey can ask a question about disability status so you can analyse the results for people with and without a disability (the same way you might analyse results by age group, gender, etc).

Additional options for evaluation

  • Observing participants on the day.
  • Chatting informally during the event, to participants, staff, sponsors, stallholders, etc.
  • Having a complaints and comments process.
  • Focus groups.
  • Collect anecdotes.
  • An event debrief.
  • Photo or video to capture accessibility successes and challenges.
  • Try to find out what the event meant to attendees, what difference it made to them.
  • Note that the Be Welcome programme includes events – you can engage them to work with you to improve access and inclusion – contact details are below.


  • Collect negative feedback before, during or after the event.
  • Instruct everyone associated with the event to be alert for complaints and to note these.
  • Encourage the person to put their concerns in writing so the event organisers can respond formally.
  • Respond to all complaints.
  • Be aware that people can complain to the Human Rights Commission if their rights have been breached due to their disability.
  • Non-attenders

    Evaluation approaches often include only those who participated in an event.  However, it may be that people with disabilities did not attend your event for some reason that you could have addressed.  Did they miss out on event information?  Were they unable to find out who to ask for information?  Not get good answers to their questions?  Was travel too difficult or the venue inaccessible or a lack of interpreters?

    Consider finding a way to meet with non-attendees and/or organisations that understand the access needs of people with disabilities who would have attended if something was different. This can be part of ongoing relationship-building and improvement for future events.

Contact us