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The new grants funding was created as part of the 10-year plan adopted by the council.
It involves $300,000 being set aside for each of the next three years to support local community development and strengthening.
''The new grants recognise the importance of communities being able to make their own decisions and do projects that benefit their residents,'' DCC place-based community adviser Nick Orbell said.
The fund was open to geographic (or place-based) community groups and neighbourhood and community groups of any size which took a whole-of-community approach.
Applications were expected to vary in scope, depending on the stage of development of the group and the activities planned, Mr Orbell said.
Some already established community groups might apply for assistance from the new grants fund, community development and events manager Joy Gunn said yesterday.
Funding existing groups had received from Internal Affairs had been ''time-framed'' and the DCC had supported the groups through its existing system of community grants.
The only restriction for an application for new grants funding was the group had to be place-based as opposed to interest-based.
Because the place-based grant was a new one, Mr Orbell was encouraging groups to get in touch with him before submitting an application.
The grants were open to new groups, and they need not be formally incorporated.
''Groups considering work in the same or overlapping areas are encouraged to consider working together,'' Mr Orbell said.