Victorian Government Upbeat About Land Exchange Program

Victorian Government Upbeat About Land Exchange Program

Land Victoria is pushing ahead with the next stage of SPEAR (Streamlined Planning through Electronic Applications and Referrals), its ground-breaking subdivision online project, amidst positive feedback from surveying firms and referral authorities.

Land Exchange Program Manager Fiona Delahunt says subject to funding, the Government will begin a wider rollout of SPEAR starting in March, after feedback that using the system has significantly reduced the time paperwork takes "to get from A to B."

The first release of the $24 million dollar Land Exchange project - designed to bring Victoria's conveyancing and planning processes into the electronic age - comprises Electronic Conveyancing (EC) as well as SPEAR.

EC means conveyancers, solicitors and financial institutions no longer need to physically meet to complete a property settlement, while SPEAR is intended to streamline applications and referrals for surveyors, local councils, referral authorities and the Land Registry by making it possible to lodge, track and approve subdivision applications online. The Government has plans to expand later releases to support other development approvals.

Planning Minster Mary Delahunty has described the online service as the most significant change to property law in 100 years, estimated to deliver potential savings of around $100 million per year, and making Victoria an even better place to invest.

"The time-honoured convention of conveyancers, solicitors and bank staff meeting in one room, to complete a property settlement will be no more,'' Ms Delahunty said.

The first application to be run through SPEAR was a subdivision for a 47 storey building to be made into shops, apartments and parking on the Queen Victoria.

"We were really thrilled by this very first application. We only expected to have relatively simple applications go through during the early stage. The majority of subdivision applications are for dual occupancies. The sheer size of this application, a massive 467 lots, shows the confidence people have in the SPEAR system," says Land Exchange project director Fiona Delahunt.

Max Braid Surveyors with the City of Melbourne lodged the application, comprising 59 pages, each of which would need to have been copied 15 times to go through the manual system.

"The City of Melbourne also dealt with the application a few hours after receiving it too so both our client and the company are thrilled to be the first and to have saved so much time and administration," says Mary Rabling of Max Braid and Associates.

"SPEAR makes quite a lot of difference in tracking down with referral authorities whether they have got the plan and what they require because everything is loaded up onto the system. It means we're not having to constantly chase whether they have got (the plan) and what they need to do next. Very often they will come back to pretty quickly where in the past it might have been five or six weeks before you even knew whether they had got the plan."

Rabling says not only are turnaround times significantly faster, surveyors need to spend less time sitting on the phone chasing up contacts.

Currently SPEAR is available for limited use with a group of six councils, seven surveying firms and 30 referral authorities who are participating in the program's pilot program. Most of the group has been involved with the project since its inception in August 2002.

Delahunt says during the next two phases additional metro surveyors, and then further councils and their associated referral authorities will be bought online.

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