Aboriginal cultural heritage

Integrated Development relating to Aboriginal cultural heritage is an efficient way for Heritage NSW and a local council to both assess proposals that will harm known Aboriginal objects or Aboriginal Places.

Integrated Development and the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974

If you lodge a Development Application (DA) with a local council for development that will harm known Aboriginal objects or an Aboriginal Place, that application will become an Integrated Development Application (IDA).

If the proposed works are approved, local councils issue development consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act). Your next step is to apply to Heritage NSW to issue an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP) under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act).

What are the benefits of an Integrated Development Application?

The IDA process enables a local council and all approval bodies (including Heritage NSW) to assess a DA at the same time. This allows heritage issues to be identified and resolved before you lodge an application for an AHIP. If Heritage NSW advises the local council we will grant approval for the development under the NPW Act, we must grant the AHIP when you apply. If Heritage NSW advises the local council we will not issue an approval under the NPW Act, council must refuse the application.

What is the IDA process?

The main steps in this process are:

1. The IDA is lodged with the local council.

The council must refer the IDA to Heritage NSW via the NSW Planning Portal. Heritage NSW can request additional information.

2. Some IDAs are placed on public exhibition.

The local council decides if the IDA involving the NPW Act will be exhibited.

3. Heritage NSW considers the IDA.

If the IDA is exhibited, copies of submissions received are sent to Heritage NSW. Heritage NSW then has 21 days to complete its assessment and advise council if it will grant approval under the NPW Act. For IDAs that are not advertised, once the required fee is received Heritage NSW has 40 days to advise council if it will grant approval.

4. The IDA is determined under the EP&A Act.

If the local council grants consent for the IDA under the EP&A Act, you must then apply for an AHIP with Heritage NSW. Attach council’s notice of determination and a copy of the approved plans along with the other essential supporting documents.

What supporting documents are required?  

Before an AHIP is issued by Heritage NSW we need to understand:

  • what objects and cultural values are within the project area, and their significance
  • what harm will occur to those objects and cultural values
  • the proposed mitigation measures to reduce harm.

If any of these are unknown or the application includes insufficient information, an assessment cannot be completed, or an approval recommended.

To enable an assessment of an IDA in advance of an AHIP we require:

  • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment Report
  • Statement of Environmental Effects
  • Drawings and drawing table
  • any other supporting reports e.g. archaeological technical report

Refer to the 'Essential supporting documents' tab on the Concurrence and referral page for further information on how to prepare, label and submit these documents.  

The Aboriginal cultural heritage assessment process allows for a limited amount of sub-surface testing to take place if required. Once issued, the AHIP may require further archaeological excavations as mitigation for the harm that will be caused by the development.

When will an IDA be rejected?

If there are no known Aboriginal objects or an Aboriginal Place in the project area that would be harmed by the proposal, no heritage comment is required. Heritage NSW will reject the referral of the IDA via the NSW Planning Portal.

Note: If there is potential for Aboriginal objects to be present within the project area (i.e. a potential archaeological deposit (PAD)), the applicant must conduct test excavation to establish whether Aboriginal objects are actually present. This must be done before submitting a DA. Refer to the Code of Practice for Archaeological Investigation of Aboriginal Objects in NSW for more information.

More information

For general information on the IDA process, contact your local council.

To discuss how the IDA process interacts with the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 contact Heritage NSW by phone 02 9873 8500 or email heritagemailbox@environment.nsw.gov.au

See also more information about Aboriginal cultural heritage assessments and AHIPs