Councils in New South Wales will soon be able to access cash in order to trial the use of artificial intelligence to speed up local planning decisions.

The New South Wales Government has announced that three technologies will be available for councils to trial through the state’s AI Solutions Panel and Early Adopter Grant Program.

The three technologies are:

  • The Development Assessment Intelligence System (DAISY) created by Adaptovate Pty Ltd
  • The Archistar property research platform, and
  • The PropCode CDC analysis platform.

The latest announcement comes as New South Wales is seeking to use artificial intelligence to simplify planning assessments and to reduce development assessment timeframes in order to help unlock greater levels of housing supply across the state.

Of particular importance are local councils, whose staff determine around 85 percent of development applications for new homes across the state.

Under the program, single local councils will be able to access grants up of to $200,000 in order to trial one or more of the identified technologies.

This amount increases to $500,000 in cases where councils collaborate and submit joint applications.

The grants are available under the trial program for three weeks and will close on May 22nd.

The programs aim to reduce average development assessment times by quickly identifying administration and data input errors.

In particular, it is envisaged that use of the technologies will reduce the number of errors which are made by applicants in development submissions.

This will enable councils to assess applications more quickly and more efficiently.

The Archistar platform, for example, aims to digitally evaluate development submissions based on local city codes and regulations.

The platform then provides applicants with a ‘pass’ or fail’ based on a standardised report. This enables applicants to correct any errors and resubmit their applications.

Meanwhile, the PropCode platform enables users from across the property industry to research town planning queries and to better understand town planning rules prior to submitting applications.

NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said that the program will encourage councils to trial AI and to identify products which can help meet their needs.

“This is about modernising the NSW planning system by making it more efficient,” Scully said.

“We can achieve this by giving our talented planners the best tools possible.

“The delivery of new homes will only happen if the planning system is working at full capacity.

I am confident AI can help accelerate DA assessments and reduce the administrative burden on planners.”

Gavin Melvin, Acting CEO of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) NSW, welcomed the announcement.

Melvin said that a slow planning system in New South Wales has acted as an impediment to new housing delivery.

This has driven up costs which are associated with new house construction.

“AI is here to stay, and is being embraced widely in other sectors, so it makes sense that we use it to help councils speed up their planning approval processes,” Melvin said.

“The use of these technologies has the potential to slash planning approvals times and free up scarce planning resources by letting them focus on more complex assessments.

“We congratulate the Government on today’s announcement and encourage Councils to take up this trial. If the trial is successful, we encourage the Government to consider mandating the use of this technology across the state to help modernise the NSW planning system.”