Advocacy NSWFrequently Asked Questions

The National Trust of Australia (NSW) is a community based, non government heritage conservation organisation.

Listing on the Trust Register does not have legal force.  It is however, recognised as an authoritative statement of the heritage significance of a building, site, item or area and, by listing such items in the Register, the Trust hopes to advise the public of the value of Australia’s national heritage.

Local council Heritage Listings are statutory listings under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act, 1979 and appear in Schedules of Environmental Heritage (usually Schedule 5) in Local Environmental Plans.

Following are some of the frequently asked questions about local council Heritage Listings.

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A heritage conservation area is a locality defined by a Council in its Local Environmental Plan (LEP) as having cultural significance.

Heritage provisions do not prevent change, but are intended to guide how changes should occur.

Councils play an important role in heritage management by identifying, assessing and managing heritage places and objects in their area. Councils usually prepare community based heritage studies which identify heritage items that should be included in their Draft LEP. Councils follow the steps that the State Government requires to identify, assess and update their LEPs. Councils utilise the rigorous criteria set by the NSW Heritage Council to determine heritage significance. Under the NSW Heritage Council guidelines, an item must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as significant:

a. an item is important in the course, or pattern, of NSW’s cultural or natural history;

b. an item has strong or special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in NSW’s cultural or natural history;

c. an item is important in demonstrating aesthetic characteristics and/or a high degree of creative or technical achievement in NSW;

d. an item has strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group in NSW for social, cultural or spiritual reasons;

e. an item has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of NSW’s cultural or natural history;

f. an item possesses uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of NSW’s cultural or natural history;

g. an item is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of NSW’s cultural or natural places; or cultural or natural environments

No. Being listed does not dictate the use of a place. It does not freeze it in time or oblige owners to open the property to the general public. Normal maintenance and building safety standards are required for any listed item, as is the case for all properties in a local government area.

No. Heritage does not change common law – that is, a person must ask permission to enter private land, unless authorised by a State or Local Government agency.

Day-to-day ‘maintenance’ including gardening, cleaning and the painting of interiors are permissible. An advantage of heritage listing is that it can provide access to a range of grants and free advice for renovations and beautification. Council Heritage Advisors may be available to draw up an agreed table of exemptions that would apply under the guidelines for up to five years without needing a development application.

Properties can be subdivided after being entered in the heritage schedule of Local Environmental Plans. In these cases, all of the new titles remain entered until such time as the entry is amended to remove all or part of any title to reflect this change in status. An application for this could occur at the same time as assessment of a subdivision application.

Development potential varies for all sites. Zoning, physical site constraints, impact on neighbours and the environment can all contribute to development potential. Heritage concerns can still be raised by Council, Councillors and the community for unlisted places when development is proposed. Prior identification of these issues can help make the development process smoother. All development application enquiries should be made to Councils to determine what is permissible for your property.