9 July 2024

Wagga Council approved for AI development application processing program

| Jarryd Rowley
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Wagga Wagga City Council will look to quicken the process of approving development applications by using AI.

Wagga Wagga City Council will look to quicken the process of approving development applications by using AI. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Wagga Wagga City Council (WWCC) will soon have the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI) when processing development applications.

WWCC has been granted $170,000 by the NSW Government as part of its Early Adopter Program, to implement the new AI program in the hopes of fast-tracking application approvals.

WWCC is one of 16 NSW councils selected for the program after submitting its expression of interest in February.

“The Early Adopter Program is part of the AI in NSW Planning project, which has been established to support and enable councils and the market to refine and scale new technology aimed at improving the pre-lodgement stage of the DA process,” WWCC Chief Operating Officer Scott Gray said.

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“The objectives of the grant are to progressively improve the assessment effort and overall DA processing efficiency through the enhancement of the pre-lodgement stages and enable councils to readily introduce AI technology into their digital environments.

“By improving the DA process for all users, including homeowners, councils and developers, we can provide confidence to the building industry and help achieve annual dwelling targets.”

Mr Gray said Council would aim to streamline the DA process by enabling applicants to use troubleshooting applications before submissions were made, allowing for better quality applications to be lodged in the first instance.

“This will be achieved by implementing a user-friendly interface with 3D generative design capabilities that will digitise and simplify our planning controls, making it easier for both council staff and the public to interpret,” he said.

“Additional chatbot functionality will also be included to assist applicants in reviewing particular property details and constraints, assisting in determining the right pathway.

“The objectives of Council’s project are to decrease the average processing timeframes for DAs, improve the DA submissions to lodgement success rate and create efficiencies in pre-lodgement related activities.”

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Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully highlighted the importance of AI in addressing the housing crisis in NSW, believing a reduction in time spent approving applications would lead to more time building homes.

“Introducing AI into the planning system is about reducing the administrative workload of planners so that they can get on with their main job of planning,” he said.

“It also helps applicants as it reduces delays by making sure all the required information is provided without repeated requests. This will free up their time and help build more homes faster.

“There is no denying that after a decade of confusing planning reforms and a challenging macroeconomic environment, approvals have slowed down.

“As a government, we are examining every way we can to speed up our planning system and build homes for our young people, our families and our workers.”

WWCC will begin to implement the new technology in August.

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Fast tracking applications and even more important for Council’s bottom line is fast tracking more job losses.
Only a General Manager and his/her acolytes in the top level of Council staffing could come up with this idea.
No one will a cent less in their rates though.

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