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.

Update on Conservation Management Plans

The Heritage Council of NSW has completed a review of conservation management plan (CMP) practices in NSW and how the practice, tools and processes can be improved.

After careful consideration, and following detailed stakeholder consultation, the Heritage Council has ceased reviewing and endorsing CMPs. This change brings NSW into line with other jurisdictions in Australia, which do not have a CMP endorsement process.

The Heritage Council of NSW is:

  • still recommending the preparation of CMPs as best practice heritage management guidelines/documents. CMPs are important documents that should be attached with works applications for State Heritage Register (SHR) items to help determine heritage impacts and manage change.
  • supporting consultants, local government, and owners/ managers SHR listed items to develop functional CMPs that adopt best practice heritage conservation principles in line with The Burra Charter
  • considering suitable exemptions from approval through both the SHR listing process, or in response to owner/manager needs.

Watch this space for more details coming soon

We have developed new guidelines and are now planning webinars to support the preparation of high quality CMPs. This includes clarifying where shorter conservation management documents will be appropriate. 

The aim of these changes is to streamline the preparation of best practice CMPs and reduce costs to property owners. 

What is a Conservation Management Plan?

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

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. This will be updated. 

When is it useful to have a CMP?

A CMP may be useful to accompany an application for approval under the Heritage Act 1977.

A CMP should provide information to help assess the application, including clear:

  • statement of the significance of the item
  • identification of the constraints and opportunities that affect the item (including the owner's needs)
  • 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 could occur, 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 conservation and management approach to a heritage item, particularly in the decision-making process.

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

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 site-specific and tailored to managing the heritage values of the item. The CMP needs to provide succinct, robust and effective guidance for making the important decisions to ensure the future of the heritage item.

A good CMP is guided by an appropriate brief. A model brief has been developed for this purpose. This will be updated shortly.

The brief can be varied to suit the site-specific characteristics of a 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. This will be updated shortly. Again, this will need to be varied to suit the heritage item and client or consultant

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

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 document can be developed.

Alternatives could include a conservation management strategy (CMS) (see below for more information), a statement of heritage impact (SoHI), an asset maintenance plan, a condition report, an archaeological assessment or a combination of these documents.

The documentation required will reflect the significance, heritage values and complexity of the item being managed, and its conservation needs. 

Options can be discussed with Heritage NSW before preparing a conservation planning document.

What is a Conservation Management Strategy (CMS)?

An alternative to a full CMP is a conservation management strategy (CMS). A CMS is a shorter 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 State Heritage Register 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 these documents to guide the development of your CMS. These documents will be updated shortly.

Is a CMS approach useful for multiple items?

It can be a useful approach. 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.

Site specific exemptions

Site specific exemptions can no longer be developed via CMP endorsement. Site specific exemptions can still be considered through the State Heritage Register listing process, or in response to owners/manager’s needs.

Refer to the Standard Exemptions automatically granted to all State Heritage Register listed items.