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Mixed response to new state ePlanning portal

Katrina Condie29 June 2021
Darren Lalor and Renee Johnston at Eurobodalla Shire Council office

Eurobodalla Shire Council duty development officers Darren Lalor and Renee Johnston can continue to provide advice on development applications pre-lodgement, however all DAs must be submitted through the NSW Government’s Planning Portal from 1 July, 2021. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

From Thursday, 1 July, all development applications and post-consent certificates across NSW must be submitted via the NSW Government’s Planning Portal.

However, not all councils are happy with the move.

The NSW Government mandated the change, meaning council planning teams are no longer permitted by law to accept development applications and post-consent certificates, however they still must assess them.

NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes says the ePlanning platform offers an “online tool where people can access planning services and lodge and track the progress of applications from anywhere, at any time”.

“Most things are done digitally now – the days of paper-based transactions that can only take place during business hours are behind us,” he said.

Some councils have welcomed the change, while others, such as Eurobodalla Shire Council, claim it is an added inconvenience for customers and council staff.

“We’ve been accepting e-lodgement without any additional charges since 2019 so this change is simply adding additional costs and inconvenience to our customers,” said Eurobodalla Shire Council’s planning director, Lindsay Usher.

“We know it’s going to be particularly challenging for people who still submit hardcopy DAs [development applications] which is still around one-third of our customers.

“We lobbied long and hard against this change, however our frustrations went unheard.

“What we’d like to see is for councils to be able to ‘opt in’ to this service, rather than being forced by the change in legislation.”

However, a Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council spokesperson said the online portal will simplify the development and planning process for submitting applications, providing a single and consistent point of access for all applicants across NSW.

“Council has been using the NSW Planning Portal since November 2020 to accept the lodgement of development applications, modifications, reviews, construction certificates, subdivision certificates and subdivision works certificates in preparation for the mandatory introduction of the online portal,” said the spokesperson.

“Prior to this, council had an online e-services platform for a number of years for a limited number of application types.

“Additional planning applications including Section 68 applications, occupation certificates, notice to commence applications and information on certificates and approvals issued by private certifiers will also be lodged through the NSW Planning Portal.”

From Thursday, 1 July, anyone wanting to submit a DA must go to the NSW Government Planning Portal, create an account and upload digital files, which will then be made available to council’s planning staff to assess. The NSW Government is also charging a fee for using the portal to lodge an application.

A Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council spokesperson said council staff are unable to edit the information provided in applications so it is critical that customers take the time to ensure they have all the required information in suitable file formats before they sit down to lodge their applications, otherwise they may be returned to the applicant and will need to be resubmitted.

Applications that must be submitted through the NSW Planning Portal from 1 July, 2021, include:

  • Development Applications
  • Section 4.55 Modification Applications
  • Complying Development Certificates
  • Construction Certificates
  • Occupation Certificates
  • Subdivision Certificates
  • Subdivision Works Certificates
  • Appointment of Principal Certifying Authority.

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