Conservation management plans

Here you'll find help on how conservation management plans and conservation management strategies are used for heritage management and how best to prepare them.

In July 2019, the Heritage Council of NSW commenced a review of NSW current conservation management plan practice, tools and processes. The review is currently due to be completed by mid-2020. 

What is a Conservation Management Plan?

Conservation management plans (CMP) are the main guiding document for the conservation and management of State listed heritage places.

A CMP has been defined in Jim Kerr’s The Conservation Plan as “a document which sets out what is significant about a place and consequently what policies are appropriate which enable that significance to be retained in its future use and development. For most places it deals with the management of change.” (Kerr, J.S. 2013, Conservation Plan, 7th edn)

The Heritage Council’s CMP Strategy 2005 provides guidance on the current processes for dealing with CMPs.

When is it useful to have a CMP?

A CMP may be useful to accompany an application for approval under the Heritage Act.

The CMP should provide information to help assess the application, including a clear statement of the significance of the item, clear identification of the constraints and opportunities that affect the item (including the owner's needs), and clear policies as to which fabric, or elements, of the item need to be conserved. It should also outline what can be changed, if and where any new development occurs, and the parameters for such development or the degree of change that is permissible.

A CMP is also useful as a framework for an agreed-upon conservation and management approach to a heritage item, particularly in the decision-making process.

A CMP can support an application for additional site-specific exemptions from Heritage Act approval, pending endorsement by the Heritage Council.

A good understanding of the significance and values of a heritage item is important in such cases.

Site-specific exemptions can be developed in addition to the standard exemptions automatically granted to all State Heritage Register-listed heritage items. Schedule of Standard Exemptions

Are there alternatives to a CMP?

Yes. The purpose of a conservation planning exercise must be clear from the beginning, so that the appropriate type of planning document can be developed.

Alternatives could include a CMS (see below), a statement of heritage impact, an asset maintenance plan, a condition report, an archaeological assessment or some combination of these documents.

Where there is any uncertainty, it is important that options are discussed with us before preparing a conservation planning document.

Will CMPs be reviewed by Heritage NSW?

Not as a general rule. CMPs will only be reviewed if requested and the purpose of the review is clear. The appropriate fees must also be paid.

The review may be undertaken by an independent peer reviewer engaged by Heritage NSW for this purpose. The reviewer will use a checklist to prepare the review.

CMPs can be reviewed to provide comments or feedback, or for endorsement by the Heritage Council.

A Conservation Management Plan assessment checklist is available online for your reference. This checklist should be completed and included in your submission.

Are there fees or charges for reviewing a CMP?

Yes. CMPs are accepted for review on a fee-for-service basis. Fees are calculated on the complexity of the review:

  • $2000 + GST for a desk-top review;
  • $4000 + GST for a review that involves site visits; and/or
  • a negotiated fee for a large or complex CMP, or where the review will involve matters additional to the usual review process.

What are the timeframes involved?

CMP submitted for standard review: 4 - 6 weeks (timeframes may vary if changes and/or additional information is required)

CMP submitted for endorsement: 4 - 6 weeks for the review (not including the time it takes for the applicant to satisfactorily address any comments). Then allow 4-6 weeks for the CMP to be considered for endorsement by the Heritage Council.

How do I prepare a CMP?

A CMP consists of three main parts: investigation, assessment and management policies.

The preparation of a CMP needs to be guided by an appropriate brief. A model brief has been developed for this purpose.

Vary this to suit the characteristics of a particular heritage item and the requirements of a particular client or consultant. A suggested table of contents has also been developed to provide some guidance on the content of a CMP. Again, this needs to be varied to suit the heritage item and client or consultant.

Download these useful documents to guide the preparation of your CMP:

What is a Conservation Management Strategy (CMS)?

An alternative to a full CMP is a conservation management strategy (CMS). A CMS is a briefer version of a CMP that will provide a broad overview of conservation approaches and management guidance.

A CMS may be useful in the following situations:

  • as an interim conservation and management document for SHR items pending the preparation of a standard conservation management plan.
  • for use with items of local significance;
  • for a range of heritage items of similar form and function (such as State agency owned infrastructure items)

How do I prepare a CMS?

The process for preparing a CMS is similar to that for a CMP. Download the following documents to guide the development of your CMS:

Is a CMS approach useful for multiple items?

It can be. A type-specific or theme-specific CMS can be developed for groups of similar types or categories of items or items that demonstrate a particular theme. This approach could be discussed with Heritage NSW beforehand.

It may involve building upon a common history or type examples applicable to all the items in the group, with the item-specific CMS then focusing on the characteristics and requirements of each item in the group.

Type examples might be repetitive electricity or water pumping stations, linear infrastructure assets like rail lines and which might have an overarching CMP documenting the asset class and key significance values.