The NSW Government will invest $10 million to upgrade its decade-old ePlanning platform under moves to streamline planning, development, and approvals processes and enable real-time tracking of applications.
The upgrade will deliver a significant expansion of the state planning department’s digital services offering, with backend enhancements to its analytics and reporting functions, as well as an array of frontend systems to enable online payments processing and digital document lodgements.
Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello said the upgrade will help prepare the Department for an expected surge in demand for ePlanning services, with the state’s 128 councils mandated to migrate to the new platform by July 2021.
Currently, just 37 councils use the Government’s online planning portal to process development applications.
The new platform will also support further integration between councils’ online planning and approvals processes with the state’s development authorities and relevant courts, Dominello said.
By 1 July 2020, all councils across Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast and Illawarra will be required to start accepting and processing development applications, complying development certificates, and post-consent certificates via the new Planning Portal.
Digital space for planning & approvals
The Government has pitched its portal upgrade as an all-in-one digital space to help communities, industry, and government better understand and meet their obligations under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
First launched in 2009, the revised ePlanning platform will seek greater integration and data-sharing between councils, state agencies, and the Department of Customer Services.
Once fully upgraded, applicants will be able to lodge planning proposals as well as track and pay for their development applications through its one-stop-shop portal.
New reporting and analytics tools will enable real-time tracking of applications involving the public, councils, development authorities, or courts processing submissions.
The Land and Environment Court also gains access to the ePlanning system to assess and determine applications before the court.
All greater metropolitan councils will be required to process all applications via ePlanning by the end of 2020, with remaining regional councils expected to process all applications through the
NSW Planning Portal by 1 July 2021.
Additional guidance, training, and technical support will be provided for councils to help them migrate to the ePlanning system.
Slashing process turnaround times
Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said ePlanning will play an important role in supporting council’s push to “keep the economy moving and construction workers in jobs” through the Covid-19 shutdowns.
“ePlanning is already helping councils slash processing times by up to 50 per cent and its rollout will help new projects get through the system faster,” Stokes said.
Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said ePlanning provides a valuable tool for councils and the community to “safely” lodge their applications from home.
“Neighbours can see in real-time what development is proposed in their areas. Councils will have up-to-date data to plan, track, and improve their assessment processes,” she added.