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|Editions > 2007 > September||Monday May 20, 2013 - Melbourne Time: 22:37:10|
Taking the pain out of DA processing
Located on Sydney’s northern beaches, Pittwater Council has made lodging and tracking a development application (DA) much easier. In what is believed to be a first for Australian Local Government, Council now has a complete suite of web based tools to assist applicants and Council officers.
The tools both streamline and speed up the development assessment process through an online DA tracking and lodgement service, interactive guides to planning controls and online assessment capabilities.
Developed in conjunction with Council’s technology partner InfoMaster, the system is made up of three software tools: MasterView, MasterPlan and APPLICANT.
MasterView allows the public to monitor a DA’s progress online, from when it is first lodged to when it is determined. It allocates each development application a unique reference number. Users then log onto the system using the number and can track milestones associated with the DA.
The system now holds data on every DA lodged in Pittwater since July 2003, including associated documents such as architects’ drawings, consultants’ reports and public comments.
The second tool, MasterPlan, is an interactive portal allowing members of the public and Council staff to view development controls and any other special requirements for specific sites in Pittwater.
Council’s Planning and Assessment Manager, Lindsay Dyce, said this feature is helping to iron out some of the common problems associated with the lodgement of DAs.
“Often people will try and lodge a proposal that is unsuitable for the site they are building on,” he said. “Referring them to the system before they get to the point of lodging a DA makes them more aware of what they can and can’t do, and saves them money and time on amendments to plans.”
Council planning staff can access the system in the field using mobile tablets and broadband access. This means that several officers can work on an application at the same time and, if needed, resolve issues concerning local planning controls as they arise on site.
MasterPlan also provides staff with an online quality assurance system for assessing DAs, which automatically generates standard reports and documents, further streamlining the assessment process.
The third tool in Council’s web based development assessment system is APPLICANT.
Introduced at the end of 2006, APPLICANT is fully integrated with the MasterView and MasterPlan tools, meaning the public can lodge DAs in Pittwater online.
The program leads applicants through a process of data entry and self assessment questions, providing a checklist type approach to each stage of the lodgement process.
It has a built in quality assurance, which eliminates the usual delays associated with missing documentation or incomplete paperwork.
Pittwater Council’s General Manager, Mark Ferguson, said the suite of online tools is part of Council’s longterm commitment to interactive web based communication with the community.
“There’s no doubt that from an organisational point of view, this is where real cost savings and efficiencies can be achieved,” he said.“These tools ultimately make staff more productive, with less time taken up with customer inquiries and more time spent assessing applications.
“The quality of advice to the public has also improved, since decision making automatically becomes more consistent.”
Mark Ferguson said the Council will now focus on finetuning and making further improvements to each of the software tools, including revising MasterPlan to accommodate the New South Wales Government’s new Local Environmental Plans template, which aims to reduce planning red tape.
Lindsay Dyce said Council’s interactive tools could be expanded to include online applications for Section 149 Certificates (the certificates of sale issued by Councils when a property passes from one owner to another) and Tree Preservation Orders.
“In theory, there’s no standard process in Local Government that these tools couldn’t be applied to,” he said.
For further information contact Sally Williams, Council’s Corporate Communications Officer, on (02) 9970 1119.
© Eryl Morgan Publications Pty Ltd