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Difference between state and local heritage

Heritage listings and protections can be confusing, so it’s important to understand the different levels of heritage listing and protection in NSW.

The levels and types of heritage listing are detailed in Heritage listing explained and Levels of Heritage Significance. 

In NSW there are different levels of statutory listing, i.e. listings under NSW legislation that provide formal recognition by your local council or the State Government that an item, place or precinct has heritage significance and that the community wants to keep it for future generations. Please be aware a heritage item may be protected under more than one of these statutory lists.

Local heritage items and heritage conservation areas are listed on a local council's Local Environment Plan (LEP) heritage schedule. This covers most of the 20,000 heritage items in NSW and are listed on the State Heritage Inventory. These are managed by local councils in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 

Owners of local heritage-listed properties need to seek approval from the local council if they wish to make changes which may affect the heritage significance of the place. Please contact your local council to discuss with the Heritage Advisor or Strategic Planner.

State heritage items are listed on the State Heritage Register. This list includes only those items which have been identified as having particular importance to the people of NSW, which meet the NSW Heritage Council’s assessment criteria and are managed in accordance with the Heritage Act 1977.

Owners of state heritage-listed properties need to seek approval from the Heritage Council of NSW if they wish to make changes which may affect the heritage significance of the place, that are not eligible for an exemption. For more information see Permits and approvals.

Heritage and conservation register items are managed by NSW government agencies (e.g. Transport, Education, Health departments) under section 170 of the Heritage Act 1977. These items are also listed on the State Heritage Inventory. You may wish to contact Heritage NSW for clarification of any such items and the state agency responsible for them.

Natural heritage is generally identified and protected through national or state parks legislation. Many Indigenous cultural heritage places are protected by other specific state legislation. For more information see the Legislation page.

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.