Councils in New South Wales who install online systems allowing users to track planning applications and building permit applications are set to receive cash as the state government tries to speed up application processing times and streamline approval processes.

Last week, State Planning Minister Brad Hazzard said the state had allocated $1 million for grants to councils which purchased software that allows property development applicants and community members to monitor the progress of their applications online and view up-to-date information on development applications within their neighbourhood on council websites.

Hazzard said the grants are designed to make the system simpler, smarter and easier to understand.

“Whether you’re putting a second storey on the family home or extending the local surf lifesaving club, ePlanning takes the headache out of planning by making it easy to lodge and track development applications with a click of the mouse,” he said. “It’s about hitting the delete button on the old, cumbersome and time consuming paper system and hitting enter on a fast, simple, online planning system that is available 24 hours.”

The latest announcement follows data released on March 9 showing a slight reduction in overall times taken for local councils to process development applications from 71 days in 2011/12 to 68 days in 2012/13.

With attempts at broader streamlining of the planning system stuck in parliamentary gridlock, the government is pinning its hopes of speeding up development approval processes for new construction and renovations largely upon local councils making greater use of the complying development regime as well as adopting better systems and more efficient practices. Using online systems, the average time taken to process complying developments (those which fit within predetermined community plans and in some local jurisdictions are afforded a streamlined approval process) is just 17 days.

Hazzard said 77 councils do not currently have online tracking software, and these will be the targets of the new grants.

He added that ePlanning makes life easier for all parties involved.

“When applications are submitted back to council with the right information assessments are completed quickly and efficiently saving both residents and councils time and money,” he said.