Digital survey plans

placeholder image

Digital survey plans reform, NSW

The NSW Government is committed to digital reforms to enhance the customer experience and service delivery for the people and businesses of New South Wales.

With this in mind, last year, the Department of Customer Service and NSW Land Registry Services (NSW LRS) revisited our approach to transitioning from ‘paper’ to digital survey plans in NSW.

A move to intelligent digital survey plans will support a more efficient, accurate and accessible land title system. It will deliver benefits back to industry—and be tailored to recognise a monument-based cadastre. For example, it will allow for:

  • simpler, user friendly survey plans
  • significant improvement in timeframes between final survey and plan registration—from months to weeks
  • prepopulating documents and moving away from wet signatures
  • eliminating or very few errors
  • parallel approvals
  • closing the gap between subdivision works and construction of new homes commencing

Of course, this is a big change—the surveying profession is probably NSW’s oldest dating back over two centuries—and this is an industry-wide transformation. Along with eConveyancing, this is a critical part of making NSW land title system fully digital.

Independent report – ‘The Grosvenor review’

Part of testing our new approach is to understand why we haven’t been able to move more quickly to digital survey plans before. Take-up of the current form of digital plans in NSW has been stubbornly low—at around 5 per cent—for years.

To this end, in 2019, the Office of the Registrar General and the Surveyor General commissioned an independent ‘Digital Survey Plans Review’ by Grosvenor. The three main objectives of the review were to:

  • explore and explain why uptake of digital plans has remained low
  • identify what opportunities exist for digitalisation of plans
  • provide recommendations on the best way to progress digital plans such that benefits to surveyors, Government and other plan users are maximised.

Grosvenor spent several months consulting with surveyors, councils, utilities, developers, software vendors, Spatial Services, Transport for NSW, and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. Grosvenor also considered approaches in other jurisdictions, and reviewed the eConveyancing reform to identify applicable lessons for digital survey plans in NSW.

As a result, Grosvenor identified a number of ‘pain points’ that hampered our move to digital plans in the past, and how our approach now must deal with these directly.

Grosvenor has now delivered its final report. They’ve made suggestions on how we can reframe our approach to work with industry on a successful transition to paperless digital survey plans. In particular, Grosvenor concluded the current approach:

  • does not provide sufficient incentives for industry to justify the additional effort of preparing LandXML files
  • failed to deliver the purported benefits for industry, such as the automatic rendering of plan images
  • is perceived as part of a move away from the current monument-based approach and favours ‘data’ over ‘decisions’.

Grosvenor recommended a four-step high-level roadmap to progress digitalisation:

  1. Confirm outcomes with stakeholders to guide design of digital plans—with a focus on efficiency, accuracy and customer service
  2. Agree on governance with clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for Government, NSW LRS and industry for design and implementation
  3. Design solutions for three main areas: deposited plans, strata plans and approvals and associated documents—engaging with surveyors and other industry stakeholders throughout the solution design phase
  4. Implement solutions in close consideration of impacts on stakeholder groups, with continued stakeholder engagement; and in the case of mandating, an appropriate notice period should be given with the timing designed with, and agreed upon, by industry representatives.

Next steps

Our governance framework is now in place to drive this reform forward. We have an established Steering Committee with the Registrar General, Surveyor General, CEO of NSW LRS, and representatives from each of their teams and the Department of Customer Services to lead this reform.

We have a Consultative Committee, of industry representatives, to provide deep expertise to this process. This Committee will continue to assist with stakeholder consultation across NSW—critical to the success of digital survey plans in NSW.  We’d like to thank this Committee, made up of all relevant peak bodies, for its input to this work so far.

NSW Land Registry Services is preparing an implementation roadmap to deliver, with industry input, a revised approach to digital survey plans. This includes consulting extensively on the design solutions. The aim is to have a concept design endorsed by mid-year, with NSW LRS investment in new digital platforms commencing in the second half of 2020, and some new services available by the end of the year.

To start with, over the coming months NSW LRS will be conducting a ‘requirements gathering’ exercise to identify from you what is needed in a plan. NSW LRS will continue to work closely with the industry Consultative Committee.

For more information on the digital survey plans program, please see the links below:

For further information, please contact the Digital Survey Plans Program.

Registrar General, Surveyor General, NSW Land Registry Services CEO.