Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Councils vent frustration with state planning portal

Some Central NSW councils are reporting their frustration with the NSW Planning Portal – saying it’s adding to their workload, rather than assisting with Council planning processes.

“The Portal was designed to ‘deliver a more efficient and optimised planning system for NSW’ and fast track the DA process, but it has become an extra level of administration to navigate through for both the developer and Council,” says Murray River Council Acting Mayor, Frank Crawley.

“Councils are having to employ extra staff to manage the administration burden when the region is already experiencing a significant shortage of Planners and Building Surveyors.”

A/Mayor Craley said Councils want to “get on and assess applications, so that people can get on and build”.

“It is hard enough with rising costs, skills shortages and supply shortages without the significant frustration this Portal is causing,” he said.

‘’The idea of a one-stop streamlined, online system is welcomed – but the portal has not been implemented in that fashion.”

Murray River Council Acting Mayor, Frank Crawley.

Council said one of the major issues with the Portal is that it has limited filtering ability to determine the minimum documentation required depending on the Council area and type of application. This is causing applicants to spend money on documents that Council may not actually need to make a decision, said A/Mayor Crawley.

Currently, an applicant lodging a simple application for a dwelling located within a residential housing estate is given a wide-ranging list of documents to choose from via the Portal instead of a more clearly defined list of the minimum legal documents that are required as a starting point.

“A simple development is creating unprecedented inefficiencies at a time when Councils have received and are processing an unprecedented number of applications,” A/Mayor Crawley said. 

“There is a lot of repetitive, time-consuming processes and a noticeable lag time between information requests. The download and upload capability in the system needs to be increased; this is not a function of individuals or councils’ internet speed, it is a system issue.” 

‘’We are calling for the Department of Planning and Environment to review the system, listen and implement Council’s suggested improvements to the system and adapt it to significantly increase efficiencies and processing times whilst also providing a user friendly, intuitive and streamlined facility that works for all stakeholders.”

Riverina and Murray Councils have contacted the Digital Analytics and Insights section of Department of Planning & Environment NSW seeking an urgent meeting to highlight issues and frustrations being encountered across regional NSW with the Portal. 

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