Webinar – Queries from participants

This document is derived from the questions posed to the department during the Regional Precincts and Partnerships Program (rPPP) webinar on 19 September 2023. Due to the volume of questions received during the webinar, we have themed the relevant topics to provide attendees and potential applicants with further information addressing all questions raised. If you asked a specific question that you do not believe has been addressed, please send your query to regionalprecincts@industry.gov.au.

Grants for the rPPP are intended to support a broader commitment of partners to the precinct concept. All applications will be assessed on merit against the guidelines. Demonstration of co-contributions from both the applicant and partners (or intended partners) are part of the assessment process (see Assessment Criterion 4).

Co-contribution is required for an application to either Stream One or Stream Two. There is no requirement for the co-contribution to be cash. Contributions can be in-kind (goods or services) which will benefit the precinct, for example, office space for partnership meetings, staff time or materials for the project.

There is no set amount or percentage of co-contribution required by applicants or partners, rather applicants should provide a detailed project budget, governance structures and partnership documents which outline contributions for the proposal. Examples of the types of evidence applicants can provide to demonstrate cash co-contributions can include, but are not limited to: loan approvals and agreements, letters of offer from financial institutions, letters of commitment from funding partners, grant funding confirmation letters or agreements etc.

The grant funding requested may be for 100 percent of the eligible expenditure, but you are also required to demonstrate how your contributions will assist with the successful delivery of the project. This could include some of the ineligible expenditure items to facilitate the projects delivery. Any partner contributions and other funding for your project can come from other sources including state, territory and local government grants. There may be organisations in the partnership that do not make financial or other co-contributions to the proposal.

Please note, for Stream One other Commonwealth funding cannot be used for the project.  For Stream Two other Commonwealth funding cannot be used for the project, however other parts of the broader precinct can be Commonwealth funded.

The program guidelines provide in detail the funding available across the two streams. Each stream has its own set of guidelines with its own set of assessment criteria. Applicants should ensure that they are using the correct set of guidelines for their application. In summary:

  • Stream One: Precinct development and planning. Grants between $500,000 and $5 million will be available for master planning, consultation, design, business cases and partnership establishment.
  • Stream Two: Precinct delivery. Grants between $5 million and $50 million will be available to help deliver one or more elements of a precinct. This could be enabling infrastructure (roads, pathways, underground infrastructure), public infrastructure, or open spaces between elements or a particular building that activates other investment.

There is no grant amount preferred for an application, as long as it remains within the parameters outlined in the Grant Opportunity Guidelines. Grants for the rPPP Stream One start at a minimum of $500,000. The Department understands in the current economic climate that rising inflation has affected project costs and as such believes that the minimum grant funding amount is depictive of an entire scoping or planning process to deliver a shovel-ready precinct proposal. Applications for smaller amounts will not be considered.

Stream One does not require that procurement has been completed, and eligible activities include scoping, business case development and feasibility studies.

The assessment process requires estimated costs, you may be required to provide evidence such as quotes for major costs.

Eligible expenditure must focus on the delivery of the precinct project/ proposal. The Grant Opportunity Guidelines provide further detail (Appendix A and Appendix B). Should the precinct project require refurbishing a historic building or renovating existing spaces to make them fit-for-purpose within the precinct, this expenditure would be considered eligible.

Further information on eligibility of expenditure is provided in Appendix A and Appendix B of the Grant Opportunity Guidelines. If specific queries are not answered in the Guidelines, we would encourage applicants to contact the Business Grants Hub to discuss the project including eligibility, circumstances and activities.

Partnerships are intended to bring together entities with a shared or aligned interest in developing a precinct. This can include (but is not limited to):

  • State and territory government
  • Local government
  • Regional universities
  • Not-for-profit entities
  • First Nations groups
  • Regional Development Australia Committees
  • Community organisations
  • Private enterprise
  • Australian Government agencies that have policy/program interests or responsibilities.

The applicant does not need to be the lead delivery partner, nor do all partners need to be local – as long as the applicant meets the eligibility criteria (Section 4 of the Grant Opportunity Guidelines). The intention behind a partnership is to ensure the precinct is well-considered and meeting community priorities. It also allows an opportunity for relevant parties to identify and work through any challenges, and to consult effectively and catalyse investment. Where a partnership already exists, evidence of an existing, ongoing governance arrangement and the willingness of the partnership to support the project would be sufficient.

There is no requirement for a particular organisation that must form part of the partnership. Each set of guidelines outlines in detail the requirements for applicants to show that certain organisations, including state or territory and local governments, relevant Regional Development Australia Committee, as well as First Nations Groups have been contacted to either form part of the partnership and/or support the precinct.

Support for the precinct means demonstrated commitment to the project and its success. It can, but does not necessarily mean financial support or planning approval.

The Commonwealth has not applied any procurement requirements to this Grant Opportunity. However, you must comply with all relevant laws, regulations and Australian Government sanctions in undertaking your project. You must also comply with all relevant legislation, policies and industry standards that follow.

Applicants are required to demonstrate that they have authority or are close to seeking authority for use of the land or infrastructure required to undertake the proposed project. If the applicant is not the landowner, a signed letter from the land owner/s declaring ownership of the project location and providing consent for the project would serve as sufficient evidence for the purposes of the application. Further evidence of land ownership may be provided if the applicant deems it prudent to demonstrating authority.

Planning authority is not required for Stream One applications.

Proposed projects must be in a regional, rural or remote location, delineated as entirely outside the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSA) (refer to the Mapping Tool). The application process requires that a physical site/s for project delivery be identified.

A project can span two geographical areas, as long as it is viewed as a regional precinct or a ‘place with a purpose’ that is a user-defined geographic area with a specific shared need or theme. A ‘hub and spoke’ model could be considered a precinct, however would need to meet location eligibility criteria.

Should an application propose a precinct that crosses the boundary into the GCCSA, its eligibility for funding under the rPPP will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If this applies, you are encouraged to contact the Business Grants Hub to discuss the specifics of the project site locations.  As a general rule, the main precinct should be located outside the GCCSA. For applications to Stream Two, the project site should be located outside the GCCSA.

If your project is deemed ineligible for the rPPP on the basis of location, you are encouraged to consider applying to the urban Precincts and Partnerships Program which will be for projects within GCCSA.

As the program is an open grants program, applications can be submitted at any time.

Applicants can submit multiple applications for different projects under Stream One and Stream Two. Each application will be assessed separately. If a proposal is not deemed meritorious, an applicant may submit a revised application for the same project while the grant opportunity remains open. If an application is deemed meritorious but not successful, there will be an opportunity to discuss the outcome with Business Grants Hub (BGH), and a future, refined application may be submitted.

There is no limit to the number of applications an applicant can submit but as stated above they must be for different precincts. If the applicant has multiple projects or components which make up the broader precinct or precinct proposal, these should be bundled into the one application. Applicants can consider bundling works to form a single project – for example construction, landscaping, footpaths and lighting could be combined works for a single project application.

An applicant that has received funding under Stream One to complete their precinct development and planning can, subject to aligning with program timelines, later apply under Stream Two seeking funding for delivery of the precinct.

All applicants must provide evidence that the relevant entities (as outlined in section 4.2 of the Grant Opportunity Guidelines) have been invited to participate in the partnership and/or have been contacted to seek support for the concept or project. For Stream Two, where an invitation has been declined and support not obtained, reasoning should be provided in the application. This is not a requirement for Stream One. This grant opportunity is always open to allow applicants the time needed to gather required documents including letters of support.

When drafting their application in the portal, applicants are encouraged to regularly save their progress using the Save or Save and Continue buttons. Users can navigate between pages and modify responses until the application form is submitted. Applicants requiring further assistance when completing the application.

The program’s non-competitive grant process means that applications will be assessed against the assessment criteria, rather than in comparison to other applications.

Following the batching of applications, the Business Grants Hub will review applications against the eligibility criteria. Ineligible applications will be notified and may reapply with a new application that meets eligibility criteria while the grant opportunity remains open.

Eligible applications will be assessed against the assessment criteria by the Independent Expert Panel who will consider each proposal’s alignment to the program’s objectives and outcomes (outlined in the Grant Opportunity Guidelines).

DITRDCA will then make recommendations on meritorious proposals. The assessment process for this is outlined in the Grant Opportunities (section 8), and includes a range of considerations including alignment to the Regional Investment Framework, the balance of projects between each Stream, across budget allocation, geographic area, Government’s policy priorities and types of precincts.

The number of batches and the timing of each batch will vary depending on the volume and quality of applications received. As the rPPP is an open, non-competitive program, it is an always open process and does not have open and closed rounds. It is intended that applications will be batched a minimum of twice a year.

If you are successful, it is expected you will be able to commence your project within 3 months of receiving the offer of grant funding. The end date of grant commitment is 30 June 2026 and projects must be completed by 31 March 2026.

Eligible precincts

The definition of precinct is purposefully broad to allow a variety of projects based on local need. The Grant Opportunity Guidelines define regional precincts or ‘places with a purpose’ as user defined geographic areas with a specific shared need or theme.

Regional precincts can exist at a variety of scales and may include business districts, neighbourhoods, activity centres, renewal areas, growth areas in regional centres, regional cities, smaller town centres that serve as service hubs in rural or remote communities, commercial hubs or community and recreational areas. This list is by no means exhaustive, and applications should reflect local community needs.

Eligible activities

Stream One eligible activities must directly relate to the project and may include:

  • scoping, planning, design and consultation activities for the proposed precinct
  • development, formalisation and operation of partnership relationships and responsibilities
  • business cases and feasibility studies.

Under Stream One, other Commonwealth funding cannot be used for the project.

Stream Two projects must be ready to commence construction with a business case, design and consultation already completed. Eligible activities must directly relate to the project and may include:

  • projects that will develop or improve a regional precinct including:
    • upgrade or extension of existing infrastructure to enhance a precinct
    • construction of new infrastructure
    • procurement of suitable equipment and infrastructure.

We may also approve other activities which are linked to the objectives and outcomes of the program.

Under Stream Two other parts of the broader precinct can be Commonwealth funded, however other sources of Commonwealth funding cannot be used for the project.

The purchase of land is not an eligible activity under this grant program. Digital infrastructure projects would be considered against the relevant criteria.

The amount of detail and supporting evidence you provide in your application should be relative to the project size, complexity and grant amount requested. The level to which design of a project is detailed at the time of application is up to the applicant, however will be considered with respect to the Grant's required completion date of 31 March 2026.

Consultation on the design of the urban Precincts and Partnership Program will occur in early October. Details will be made available via the department’s website. Following consultation, information on the program guidelines, eligibility criteria and the application process will be provided also on the department’s website in due course. Please continue to monitor the department’s website.

Building Better Regions Fund and the regional Partnerships and Precincts are distinct grant programs and will not be amalgamated.

For more information, please refer to the Grant Opportunity Guidelines or the Frequently Asked Questions available on the website. If you have a query that remains unanswered please contact the Business Grants Hub at regionalprecincts@industry.gov.au or by calling 13 28 46.