We have a unique and diverse cultural heritage and we are lucky to still have many important places which make up the character of our area. Many of our buildings go back to the 1800s. We think that’s worth preserving and encourage sensitive management and conservation of the built and other heritage.

What does heritage mean? What obligations do owners of heritage listed properties have? And what renovations are possible?

We have a unique and diverse cultural heritage and we are lucky to still have many important places which make up the character of our area. Many of our buildings go back to the 1800s. We think that’s worth preserving and encourage sensitive management and conservation of the built and other heritage.

What is heritage and why is it valuable?

Heritage comes from former generations and is part of our community identity. It reflects the past and links it to the future. It doesn’t have to be old, it just has to be worth valuing and protecting for the future.

What is an example of Northern Beaches heritage?

Houses, public buildings, historic gardens, reserves, significant trees, commercial buildings, features of the landscape, pools, memorials, cemeteries, shelters, statues, archaeological remains and Aboriginal places.

Where can I find a list of heritage items?

Schedule 5 is a record of local environmental heritage and includes all protected items. The NSW Department of Environment and Heritage Heritage Division also maintains various databases relating to heritage items. Find out more

What are my obligations as an owner of a heritage item?

There’s no difference between owning a heritage-listed building and any other property. There are no extra maintenance requirements. The only difference is that you need to work with Council if you want to make changes to your building.

What are the implications of being on the Schedule of Environmental Heritage under a Local Environment Plan?

It’s a recognition of the item’s heritage significance and importance to the Northern Beaches. It does not devalue your property or prevent you renovating it. It simply means you need to manage changes so the heritage value is retained.

What is sympathetic development?

This means development must be in keeping with the heritage value of the property. It may mean retaining the form and architectural style of the building, such as the original roof pitch, materials, window placement, setback and colour.  These all play a role in conserving the character of an item.

Are there specific clauses in the LEP which apply to heritage items?

Yes. Owners of heritage buildings or properties within a Conservation Area should read the relevant sections of the LEP and the Development Control Plan before planning any changes to their properties.

Can I make changes to a heritage-listed property?

Most heritage properties can be renovated or modernised if the work respects the heritage significance of the property. If you wish to repair, change or renovate your heritage-listed property you need to lodge a development application. If you are just maintaining gardens or replacing a fence with the same type of fence, no permission is needed.

What if my property is next to a heritage-listed building?

If you are renovating your non-listed property, development needs to respect any nearby heritage item in style, scale, setback, external materials, finishes, colours and setting. Check the LEP for the rules regarding development on sites near heritage-listed items.

What are Conservation Areas?

Areas in which the historical origins, aesthetic character and relationships between various elements create a sense of place that is valued. It is identified by the special characteristics which make up its heritage significance. This may include a subdivision pattern, the consistency of building materials or the common age of its buildings.

Are there any concessions for owners of heritage items?

You can request a “heritage-restricted valuation” through Land and Property Information. If your property is valued less, your rates will be reduced. This may also affect your State land tax. If your heritage property is used for income, you may also be able to claim tax deductions for maintenance and repairs. You can also apply to Council for a small grant for conservation works.

Does a heritage listing apply to the whole building?

Yes. It includes floor plan layouts, internal detailing as well as gardens, fencing and landscaping. 

Can I demolish a heritage-listed building?

Buildings can’t be demolished without Council consent.

Can I ask Council to list a new heritage item?

Yes. Council is open to suggestions for new items or areas which may have heritage significance. Fill out the heritage nomination form provided by the NSW Heritage Office and provide as much information as possible.

A property which should be heritage listed is under threat. What should I do?

Council can make an Interim Heritage Order. This means work must stop for 12 months while Council and the NSW Heritage Council investigate the heritage value of the property.

What about items of Aboriginal Heritage significance?

Some Aboriginal sites are on private land and they must still be protected. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is responsible for the conservation of Aboriginal heritage sites and natural heritage. NPWS maintains a register of sites.The Aboriginal Heritage Office also helps Council and residents to protect Aboriginal sites.

I think my property may contain an Aboriginal relic. What should I do?

If you think you have found an Aboriginal relic there are certain actions you should take. Do not disturb the site. Stop all work, contact the Aboriginal Heritage Office and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

What if I am likely to find or disturb an archaeological relic?

Any item over 50 years old must be investigated and recorded. Some relics are removed for the knowledge they give us. Others are kept in the ground and interpreted. If you know, or expect you may have a relic on your land, you must have an excavation permit to carry out work, usually under the supervision of an archaeologist.

What is a heritage report?

There are several kinds of heritage reports. Two commonly used by Council are a Conservation Management Plan which considers the history and condition of a place to assess its heritage significance and its conservation. A Statement of Heritage Impact considers the potential impact of proposed development on a heritage site.

When do I need a heritage report?

When you are considering changes to a heritage item or to a property near a heritage item, or a site within a conservation area.

Where can I find further information on heritage?

Council’s Heritage Advisor and the Local Studies section of our libraries. This service is also helpful if you are interested in researching local history.