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Digital mapping of EPIs to replace PDF maps

05 July 2021

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Spatial Viewer

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is one step closer towards digital mapping of Environmental Planning Instruments (EPIs) in NSW.

Over the past six months, the ePlanning Program has been enhancing both the Online Planning Proposal Service and the Spatial Viewer to support the transition from PDF Maps to the digital mapping of EPIs.

The project aims to ensure that the data collected through the enhanced Online Planning Proposal Service will be the source data for EPI digital mapping on the Spatial Viewer. This will enable the Department to retire PDF maps.

The retiring of PDF maps will improve assessment timeframes, leading to economic benefits for the State, while also contributing to planning reform initiatives.

The Department is currently working with a group of NSW councils to ensure the solution meets the needs of stakeholders.

Project overview

Digital mapping means EPI map data will be managed in a centralised geospatial database. This will be the ‘single source of truth’ for map data, and it will be available to all stakeholders through the NSW Planning Portal, and also for use in an organisation’s own IT and GIS systems.

We are currently in phase two, of this three-phase project. The three phases are:

  1. Enhance and integrate the ePlanning Spatial Viewer with the Online Planning Proposal (PP Online) Service on the NSW Planning Portal. This will enable EPI spatial data to be collected through the Planning Proposal service then presented digitally through the various stages of the plan-making process (agency consultation, public exhibition, post-gazettal). This was completed in May 2021.
  2. Work with an initial group of councils to ensure the solution meets the needs of stakeholders.
  3. Roll out to the remaining councils across NSW. This is planned to commence in the second half of 2021.

The ePlanning team is also working with the Department’s Policy teams to transition SEPPs to digital mapping within the same timeframe.

Once the Spatial Viewer is the single source of truth for maps in NSW, the process of creating PDF maps will be retired.

The Spatial Viewer will contain a historical digital maps feature, which will enable users to access previous digital versions of a map created after the go-live date. Users will also continue to have access to existing PDFs created prior to the go-live date. These PDFs are now hosted on the NSW Planning Portal.

How the transition will occur

Under Section 3.22 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the making of an amending LEP may be expedited where it deals with matters that, in the view of the Minister, do not warrant compliance with the conditions precedent for the making of the LEP because they will not have any significant adverse impact on the environment or adjoining land.  

This initial transition and amendment will facilitate the transition of all current pdf map tiles to digital maps. The zoning, standards and other matters that are mapped and affect the interpretation of the LEP are otherwise unchanged, that is, no change to any controls will be included. Therefore, the Minister may be capable of forming the above view.  The achievement of this process will be facilitated by the use of the Section 3.22 workflow within PP Online.  Any future amendments to the LEP will revert to normal planning proposal processes and requirements.

Who this will benefit

The transition will benefit councils, planners, agencies, industry, and the public. It will increase confidence and trust in the plan-making process. In addition to resolving the inefficiencies associated with PDF maps, it will have the following benefits:

  • Provide cost and time savings for all stakeholders
  • Availability of GIS data to support evidence-based decision-making across the entire Planning Proposal process and multiple jurisdictions.
  • Enable users to conduct more self-service transactions online, which will be cheaper and faster, reducing errors and the need for rework.
  • Provide users with access to better, easier-to-find digital EPI maps with fewer errors.
  • Enable users to get a better understanding of development opportunities and constraints.
  • Better manage citizens’ demand for planning information, by enabling private providers to create new information services (e.g. third-party property intelligence tools and mapping platforms).

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