With Victoria’s population expected to almost double by 2050, an efficient and transparent planning process is critical. The Victorian Government’s Smart Planning program at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) was introduced in July 2016 to overhaul an increasingly cumbersome planning system.

By deploying modern, digital tools, the Smart Planning program aims to make the planning of critical infrastructure and natural and heritage resources more efficient and easier to access. The program also aims to simplify planning rules and develop more open and collaborative processes.

Managing complex and extensive documents

Planning schemes are legal documents that regulate the use and development of land in Victoria. The local council prepares and administers the planning scheme for the Minister for Planning, who approves the scheme.

DELWP supports the Minister for Planning to make decisions about amendments to planning schemes. Once an amendment is gazetted, DELWP updates the master planning schemes. Around 400 amendments are gazetted each year, with 800 live amendments in the system at any given time.

Before the introduction of the Smart Planning program, planning schemes were on average around 800 pages in length but could be as large as 1,800 pages. The schemes are available to the public via the DELWP website. The planning schemes receive around 1 million page views and 1.2 million downloads per year.

The need to go digital

Victoria’s 82 planning schemes were stored across 8,000 Microsoft Word files in a complicated folder structure, which included approximately 65,000 pages of documents. Manually maintaining the documents was contributing to inefficient processing and excessive overheads. There was also a higher risk of poor document control and an absence of automated quality checks.

With such large documents and more than 80 contributors, DELWP needed a management solution that included a centralised, faster and more efficient web-based digital tool that could generate accurate inbuilt workflows and quality checks.

Increasing transparency and efficiency

As part of the digital transformation, DELWP implemented Objective Keystone. This enables DELWP to:

  • efficiently and accurately manage collaborative authoring
  • store planning provisions and schemes digitally
  • provide a single source of truth and audit trail
  • replace 65,000 plus pages of documents with a single, centralised data base.

DELWP has already experienced several benefits:

Time savings. Since introducing Objective Keystone, document production times have dramatically reduced. Under the previous manual process, some extensive state-wide amendments with relevance across all planning schemes would take 5 days to gazette. With Objective Keystone, the process now takes only 5 hours.

Enhanced service delivery. Public access is now easier through a new user-friendly website that better complies with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

More rigorous governance. With a greater focus on governance, achievable with the Objective Keystone product, there is increased transparency of planning rules and in-built quality assurance. Version control mechanisms include a warning system when an amendment is using outdated content.

Digitisation of outdated, cumbersome systems is becoming increasingly critical for efficiency and public accountability. The Objective Keystone collaboration tool can be seamlessly incorporated with existing information management systems for faster processing and more rigorous governance.

Download the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Solution Snapshot to learn more.

To find out how Objective Keystone can create processing efficiencies at your organisation, please visit our website to request a demo or pricing information.

Visit the Victorian Planning Website for more information on planning services.