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Heritage listing explained

What is meant by a 'heritage listing'?

In NSW there are different types of statutory lists for local, state and national heritage items. An place or property is a heritage item if it is:

  • listed in the heritage schedule of a local council's local environmental plan (LEP) or a regional environmental plan (REP);
  • listed on the State Heritage Register, a register of places and items of particular importance to the people of NSW;
  • listed on the National Heritage List established by the Australian Government to list places of outstanding heritage significance to Australia.

In NSW the principle laws which deal with Aboriginal heritage are the Heritage Act 1977, the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Shipwrecks come under the protection of the Heritage Act and also the Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018.

Statutory registers provide legal protection for heritage items. In NSW legal protection generally comes from the Heritage Act 1977 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Places on the National Heritage List are protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

To find out more about the benefits and effects of listing for owners and the community, the facts versus the myths, and for a practical insight into how to make sympathetic changes, download Heritage listing explained - What it means for you .

Other statutory listings

Other statutory listings which have effect in NSW are:

For more information on items listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List contact the Australian Heritage Council.

How to find out if a place is heritage listed

To find out if an item or place is heritage listed, search the State Heritage Inventory

The inventory includes over 30,000 items listed on the State Heritage Register and local council Local Environmental Plans. 

How to get certification of heritage status for a property

If you need to determine the heritage status of a site for legal purposes (e.g. conveyancing), you can apply for a section 167 certificate to identify the current status of the property. The certificate will tell you if the property is listed on the State Heritage Register or if the place is being considered for nomination.

Other registers of heritage items

These other registers tell us about places which have heritage significance, but they do not provide legal protection.

  • The National Trust Register maintained by the National Trust of Australia is one of the most comprehensive of the non-statutory registers. It was first established nearly fifty years ago and is a reference for the compilation of statutory registers, particularly local government heritage studies.
  • The Royal Australian Institute of Architects Register of 20th Century Buildings which is an important resource in assessing the heritage of our own time.
  • The Art Deco Society Register which lists important buildings from the interwar (1918-39) period.
  • The Geological Society Register which lists important geological sites.
  • The Australian Institution of Engineers Australia lists sites or objects of engineering significance.
  • The Professional Historians Association (NSW) Register of Historic Places and Objects lists sites and objects of historical significance.
  • Australian Museums Online for information on moveable heritage.