5 February 2024

Wagga Council turns to AI to speed up development applications

| Jarryd Rowley
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WWCC is in the running to trial a new AI program that could fast track development applications/.

WWCC is in the running to trial a new AI program that could fast-track development applications. Image: ChatGPT (AI generated).

Wagga Wagga City Council has thrown its hat in the ring to be part of an AI trial that aims to reduce the time taken to process development applications.

The trial was brought to the attention of WWCC at its January council meeting by Councillor Richard Foley, who believes the new technology will help the city sort through its backlog of applications.

“As the biggest regional city council in the state we need to be on the front foot and try to get some technology that can assist us to grow this city most progressively,” Cr Foley said.

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The meeting saw councillors vote unanimously in favour of Cr Foley’s proposal to have council reach out to the NSW Government and request a trial of the technology.

Since the meeting council has written to the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully and expects to hear back from him within the next couple of weeks.

WWCC’s city development manager, Paul O’Brien, explained that the NSW Government had set aside $5.6 million for the trial, which is planned to commence in the second quarter of the year.

“Council is very much attuned to increasing the throughput with our building application process,” he said.

“This specific AI project is focusing on helping people to get their application in the correct format and containing the correct information so that when it comes to the council for assessment, they’re going to get a better idea of the projects.

“Currently we try to educate regular clients as to what needs to go in with their applications, and for the most part, regular clients understand what needs to happen.

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“The AI education piece really is with the people who may only enter an application once or twice in their lifetime. For them, it can be really confusing, so having an AI presence that can step them through it is something I believe is a step forward.”

WWCC hopes the potential increase of the rate at which applications are approved could see a growth in the number of houses being built or renovated in the region.

While there are high hopes for the trial, WWCC is still awaiting confirmation from the NSW Government as to whether it will be a part of it.

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