A NSW government flying squad meant to assist councils deal with a backlog of development applications has been labelled "far more of a hindrance than a help".
Federation Council's development and environmental services director Susan Appleyard related her experience of the squad at a council meeting on Tuesday.
"The flying squad were far more of a hindrance than a help," Ms Appleyard said.
"We ended up using more resources in-house to service the applications through, that could be forwarded through, given that they would only take residential and new dwellings or subdivision or multi-unit developments through the flying squad."
Only four applications ended up being referred to the outside team with just one ultimately determined by the squad over a 10-week period.
The then Coalition NSW government announced in October 2022 it was spending $11.5 million to address planning delays.
Then Deputy Premier Paul Toole said: "This is about overcoming that with a flying squad of experts who can help councils review development applications faster and move projects into construction.
Ms Appleyard indicated delays are likely to be exacerbated with the need to submit online applications to the NSW Planning Portal and the system being difficult to navigate.
"(As of) the 1st of July we have to issue all consents online, instead of taking say half-a-hour they're now taking three to four hours to do one consent for a simple shed," she said.
"The portal has been horrific, the implementation and the continuing changes to that has meant there has been confusion on all sides."
Ms Appleyard added applicants were getting frustrated by the process and not uploading all required information.
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"The other big change with that is that you used to be able to lodge, what we call our section 68, so your plumbing, your drainage, wood heaters, storm water - they could all be lodged with your DA or your complying development or your construction certificate," she said.
"They now all have to be lodged as separate applications, which is causing more administration work not only for the applicants but for council as well."
Ms Appleyard said the planning department had an immediate need for four more staff and would benefit from a further eight to 10 hands to hasten applications.
There is now a manager, two building surveyors and a planner who can access the portal.
The council will now send its review of planning and building assistance between April and June to the Department of Planning and Environment along with a request for financial support for planners and building surveyors at Federation and across NSW councils.
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