Heritage Listings and Conservation Areas
Australian items thought to be of cultural significance are investigated and assessed as being of value at one or more of several levels. The level of significance then determines the list(s) on which the item is to be included and therefore the government body responsible for the management of the site.
Sites can be listed individually (for example a single house), as part of a multiple listing (for example one of a row of terraces) or as a part of a conservation area (where a specific heritage zone is listed in its entirety, protecting the overall heritage significance of that area).
Statutory Heritage List: Local Environment Plan (LEP)
Government Body: Local Council
Heritage places or objects that are important for the community in a local government area are listed on the local environmental plan (LEP) and managed by the local council. Local heritage items are usually identified through heritage studies, often with extensive community involvement. All local councils are required to identify items of local heritage significance in a heritage schedule to the local environmental plan. A local environmental plan is a planning instrument that councils prepare under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
There are over 20,000 individual local heritage items listed in local environmental plans and many more in the 183 local conservation areas located across the State.
Statutory Heritage List: State Heritage Register
Government Body: Heritage Division, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
Heritage places and items of particular importance to the people of NSW are listed on the State Heritage Register. The key to listing on the State Register is the level of significance. Only those items that are of state significance are listed on the Register.
Listing on the State Heritage Register does not mean that owners cannot make changes to their property. It does mean, however, that for certain kinds of work approval is needed from the Heritage Council of NSW. The Heritage Council will usually approve changes that do not compromise the heritage significance of the listed property.
Formal approval is not needed for routine maintenance such as guttering and roofing repairs. However, the Heritage Division recommends checking with them before making
Listing gives owners access to heritage grants through the Heritage Division, and also enables owners to enter into heritage agreements, which can attract land tax, stamp duty and local council rates concessions.
Interim Heritage Orders
If there is a threat to demolish or harm a place of potential State significance, interim heritage orders can be made by the Minister on the recommendation of the Heritage Council. In addition, the Minister has authorised some local councils to make interim orders for items of local heritage significance.
Statutory Heritage List: National Heritage List
Government Body: Australian Dept of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Growth
Nationally significant items are listed on the National Heritage List by the Australian Government Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Water through a similar process as that used for listing state items.
Statutory Heritage List: World Heritage List
Government Body: UNESCO
The World Heritage List includes over 980 sites, forming part of the cultural and natural heritage, which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value. Australia is home to 19 World Heritage sites, including natural sites such as Great Barrier Reef and the Blue Mountains, and cultural sites such as Sydney Opera House.
Other Heritage Registers
There are also many non-statutory registers, which play an important role in alerting the community to the potential heritage value of particular items. Such lists include: