What is a Heritage Listing?
In NSW there are different types of statutory listings for local, state and national heritage items. A 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.
Statutory registers provide legal protection for heritage items. In NSW legal protection generally comes from the Heritage Act, 1977 (amended 1998) 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.
Benefits and effects
The heritage places of NSW not only reveal the story of Australia's past; they safeguard and enrich our present and future.
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 (PDF 2.5MB).
Other statutory listings
Other statutory listings which have effect in NSW are:
- Commonwealth heritage list, a list of places owned or leased by the Commonwealth which have heritage value;
- Aboriginal sites register
- Australian national shipwreck database, a list of all known shipwrecks in Australian waters.
- Section 170 Registers, list items under the care, control and management of NSW state agencies.
In NSW there are also community registers, for example registers compiled by the National Trust or the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. Community registers are an alerting device. They tell us which places have heritage significance, but they do not provide legal protection.
In NSW the principle laws which deal with Aboriginal heritage are the Heritage Act, 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.
To find further information on items listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List contact the Australian Heritage Council.
To find further information on items listed on the Aboriginal Sites Register contact NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service in the Department of Environment and Conservation.
How to find if a place is listed
To find out if a place is listed, search the online heritage databases.
The online databases include over 27,000 items listed on local council's local environmental plans (LEPs) or on the State Heritage Register.
How to get Legal Verification of a Listing
If you need information on a heritage listing when buying or selling a property, or in other circumstances where documents with legal standing are required, you will need to apply for a certificate:
- For items listed on a local council's local environmental plan (LEP) - contact the local council for a section 149 certificate;
- For items listed on the State Heritage Register or subject to an order under the NSW Heritage Act 1977 - you will need to undertake a property enquiry and apply for a s167 certificate.
Community registers and listings
Community registers and listings tell us about places which have heritage significance, but they do not provide legal protection. They include:
- 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.
- Information on moveable heritage can also be found in database format at the Australian Museums Online site.