Land use planning

The New South Wales and Federal Governments have invested more than $11 million into a world-first land-use technology platform, Land iQ, in order to support its current work identifying excess and underutilised public land for housing, and to potentially enhance the platform for use in other areas. 

The platform, which won the Australian Property Institute Innovation in Property Award, brings more than 40 land use data types together, making it easy to search more than 8 million lots and properties and quickly test different scenarios for land use.

Land iQ is currently being used by the New South Wales Government departments and nine local councils, helping to reduce time, cost and duplication.

The platform played a key role in flood response planning in northern New South Wales in 2022 and is now focused on supporting the State Government’s audit of publicly owned land for housing.

Land iQ makes it easier to identify and assess land for housing and related uses by putting vast amounts of data and analysis into the hands of land and property managers.

It means the work and time required by government and the private sector to assess land size, location and zoning constraints can be cut from weeks or months to days or less, delivering outcomes faster for the benefit of local communities.

The New South Wales Government is committing a further $9.3 million to develop Land iQ over the next two years, in addition to $1.8 million already invested to develop the pilot version of the tool. The Federal Government is also investing $1.8 million under Round One of the Disaster Ready Fund.

The funding will allow Land iQ to be upgraded from a pilot to a more mature tool that can be licensed for use by other sectors that deal in land.

This could include private industry, local councils, universities and other researchers, or organisations like Local Aboriginal Land Councils.

New South Wales Minister for Lands and Property, Stephen Kamper, said that the State Government is deploying the technology to support one of its top priorities – more housing for the people of New South Wales.

“We are using every lever at our disposal to speed up the planning process and get more people in New South Wales into homes sooner,” Mr Kamper said. 

“Agencies can bring together more than 200 data sources to find sites that meet development requirements, then virtually test different planning scenarios in specific locations.”

Land iQ was recommended by the independent 2022 NSW Flood Inquiry as a key tool to consolidate land use risk data to support strategic planning.

The federal funding lines up with this recommendation and will allow for natural disaster risk and resilience analysis to be built into Land iQ so it can consider a site’s vulnerability to hazards including bushfires, droughts and floods.

The federal funding will also enable the opportunity for Land iQ’s capabilities to be used by other jurisdictions across Australia once the tool has fully matured.

The platform was built by WSP Australia and New South Wales start-up Giraffe, with high-resolution maps provided by Aerometrex.

WSP Australia Acting Director Digital, Damien Cutcliffe, said the company was delighted to be working with the government and its partners in helping fast-track planning and housing solutions.

“It’s exciting to be playing a role in getting people into homes quicker.”

Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt said that through the Disaster Ready Fund, the Federal Government is taking serious action to support initiatives that improve community resilience and reduce the risk of natural disasters right across the nation.

“Initiatives like Land iQ will enable the New South Wales Government to make faster, smarter land use decisions to support emergency response, recovery and long-term resilience,” Mr Watt said. 

“We’re proud to back this, and another 18 projects worth more than $70 million in New South Wales alone.”

New South Wales Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Paul Scully, said the State Government has wasted no time to focus on ways to modernise the planning and approvals system, remove the chaos, confusion and delay to help address the housing crisis.

“We’re backing this vital platform with more funding to support our ongoing work to improve assessment times, help improve assessment quality and support the audit of surplus public land that could be rezoned for housing,” Mr Scully said. 

New South Wales Minister for Housing, Rose Jackson, said that the state needs more housing as quickly as possible, and that this platform speeds up the time to get to a formal proposal or development application.

“All government agencies and councils using a shared platform with shared data means time and money that would otherwise be wasted will be going towards fixing the housing crisis,” Ms Jackson said. 

“We are rebuilding our housing system after over a decade of neglect. This will help streamline planning to ensure our focus is on fast tracking the delivery of more homes, and not on bureaucratic barriers.”

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