Brick wall

The Association of Australian Certifiers has called for the NSW planning department to work with existing software providers and web systems to reconfigure its planning portal amid accusations of waste and inefficiencies.

Last year we published a scathing opinion piece by (written by an architect) all about the “bureaucratic nightmare” of the NSW department of planning, industry and environment (DPIE’s) “user-unfriendly and un-forgiving” ePlanning Portal. 

You can read our here: DPIE’s new planning portal a bureaucratic nightmare

The portal is a centralised digital planning service used by building practitioners and consumers that amalgamates all plans, big or small, under the roof of the NSW state planning body, sidestepping the local authority.

Our writer Nigel Bell of Ecodesign Architects wrote of the portal: “Whether you’re submitting to council for a minor home alteration or a massive billion dollar development, you have to apply through the same DPIE website (ePlanning Portal)”. 

Now, a survey of registered certifiers in NSW has found overwhelmingly agreement with Bell’s opinion. 

The Association of Australian Certifiers (AAC) surveyed 194 of its members in NSW and found that building practitioners and their clients are facing difficulties with the planning portal, leaving consumers frustrated with delays on stalled planning applications “tied up in unnecessary red tape and technical glitches”. 

“The Planning Portal is adding significant red tape and administrative burden to the entire planning process,” AAC chief executive officer Jill Brookfield said.

“Despite constant feedback provided to the government on a range of issues, they have failed to adequately address them.”

These results bear out the frustration and show the portal looks to be wasting unnecessary amounts of time and resources compared with the previous lodgement process: 

  • 76 per cent have not noticed an improved user experience with the portal
  • 69 per cent of registered certifiers rated it as either poor or very poor
  • 66 per cent described the portal as “clunky”
  • 42 per cent are having to devote more than eight hours per week to managing the Portal, compared with the previous lodgement process
  • 45 per cent have had to hire additional staff just to manage the portal

Ms Brookfield said the Department of Planning needed to overhaul the portal to improve the process by working with existing web systems. 

“The system has been plagued by technical glitches and unnecessary red tape and duplications, and the government should suspend its operation until these issues are fixed,” Ms Brookfield said. 

“The department should also be working more closely with the existing software providers, which have proven systems in place that the construction industry relies on.

“If these matters are not addressed, the public will ultimately pay the price for this clunky system through higher housing construction costs and unnecessary delays.”

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  1. Have tried for 3 days to submit an application for a pool removal in Dubbo and you guessed it keep getting told incorrect info and after several attempts to rectify the site tells you an error has occurred and to try later. Absolute joke