As I mentioned in my book, the lodgement of Development Applications in NSW has historically been a very paper-based process which has generally involved:
- A developer printing out hard copies of their plans and documents and taking these in person to the Council chambers and lodging them over the front counter.
- A developer printing out hard copies of their plans and documents and posting them to Council.
Some Councils, in the best interests of the environment, for applications lodged in person or via mail are now accepting a CD or USB drive with electronic copies as an alternative to paper-based applications.
The old system has many inadequacies including:
- Time spent in visiting Council or a post office to lodge an application
- Reprinting plans and documents often multiple times if an application is rejected by Council
- The environmental impact of large numbers of paper documents needing to be discarded
Over recent years, it has become possible in some areas to lodge an application electronically rather than in person or via post. For example, Blue Mountains City Council and Lake Macquarie City Council have online systems via their websites that enable online lodgement of applications. Similarly, there are a few Councils that allow submission of Development Applications via email.
The NSW Planning Portal, an online system managed by the NSW Government also now provides for the online lodgement of Development Applications in a total of 24 Council areas.
I have used this system on a number of occasions now and I am pleased to advise that it offers many advantages compared to the older system of posting or lodging an application in-person.
The system involves uploading plans and documents to an online system and filling out forms online. Council then decides whether to accept the application electronically and fees are generally paid over the phone via credit card.
The NSW Government deserves to be commended for establishing this system and it's rollout to cover more Council areas and hopefully the entire state will offer a lot of benefits for those lodging Development Applications. It should also provide benefits to Councils in reducing wastage of paper and postage costs.