Cessnock City Council locks in to NSW e-planning portal

Cessnock is the first and only Council to have near realtime integration with the NSW Planning Portal via an API and according to Cessnock Council’s Business Support and Customer Relations Manager, Roslyn Ashton, “it will provide significant productivity savings for Council along with further improvements in application processing times”.

Cessnock City Council initially formed an e-Planning project team setting the foundations for the implementation of the NSW Planning Portal. After 12 months of the using the Portal, full systems integration went into live production on July 1.

The commitment to improving the customers experience was the key focus for Council, and the NSW Planning Portal was to provide a tool that allowed the community, stakeholders and government agencies to work together.

In order to improve efficiencies in relation to Council’s operational needs, Australian software developer CIBIS was engaged in October 2019 as a consultant to develop a middleware solution that supports the integration between the NSW Planning Portal and Council’s operating systems via application programming interfaces (API’s).
Tony Heitmeyer, CIBIS General Manager said “It’s one thing working through planning rules, regulations, determinations and compliance issues, but it’s another to ensure that the various IT systems work together including that from NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), Local Government systems and other private enterprise vendors.”
CIBIS successfully worked with Council’s corporate vendor, Civica, and the DPIE to develop the solution. The integration includes the management of documents, lodgement and determination of applications and will also extend to other portal functionality, such as certificates, when further API’s are made available.

CIBIS has provided a configurable middle ware component to integrate the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Planning portal with local government back end information systems.

The systems involved are:

1. DPIE Planning Portal APIs

These APIs push development application data to the middleware platform and allow the middleware platform to update the application as it progresses through the approval process within the council systems. Interaction is via secured REST based APIs with inbound and outbound que systems. It’s all done in near realtime, with back up and re-try logic to support intermittent failure of either end, and recoverable error handling.

2. Council Back End Systems

DA Management System. Civica’s Authority Enterprise Solution (one of the major local government platforms). Civica have provided a REST API layer into their system that allows the middleware to interact with the relevant system modules.

3. Enterprise Content Management Systems: 3 Options are currently provided. An option to push DPIE attachments into Microfocus Content Manager (Trim), TechOne ECM or via the Civica authority API for other Civica supported content management scenarios.

The broad outline of the integration is:

  • The Applicant submits the application via the NSW DPIE portal. The benefit to the applicant is that the DPIE portal provides a consistent state-wide application process standardising across multiple councils (and even adjoining boundaries).
  • The submitted application is then sent to the middleware which then loads the application into Authority. This process involves identifying and potentially creating CRM records for the applicant, identifying the property, mapping the application data into an Authority application and uploading the attached documents into the configured content management system.
  • Throughout the approval process, further information submissions are processed updating the documentation in the council systems.
  • Once the application has been determined by the council, the middleware initiates the process to upload the determination documentation back into the DPIE portal and close the DPIE portal case with the outcome.


CIBIS middleware supports a modular adaptor approach including online Forms (e.g. www.formlify.com) and will be expanded to support new digital transformation initiatives around IOT system as well.

CIBIS is now in the process of rolling out the middleware solutions to other Councils using Civica’s Authority Enterprise Application.