Culture and heritage


Role of the Heritage Council

The role and functions of the Heritage Council of NSW are created by the Heritage Act 1977 (NSW). Its membership reflects a cross-section of community, government and conservation expertise.

The Heritage Council is appointed by the NSW Government to:
  • provide advice on heritage matters to the Minister for Heritage
  • recommend items of State significance for listing on the State Heritage Register
  • recommend the interim protection of potential heritage items so that an assessment of their significance can be made
  • determine proposed changes to items on the State Heritage Register to retain the items' heritage significance
  • advise the community on heritage.

State Heritage Register

The State Heritage Register is a list of heritage items of particular importance to the people of NSW. It includes items of particular importance to specific groups in the community, such as Aboriginal communities, religious groups or people with a common ethnic background. An item is listed on the Register when the Minister for Heritage agrees to the Heritage Council's recommendation that it is of State heritage significance.

The Heritage Council has developed criteria to assess items to be included on the Register and it advises the community on how to apply them.

More information is available on the State Heritage Register page.

Development approvals

Once an item is listed on the State Heritage Register, major changes to it require the Heritage Council's approval. When considering applications the Heritage Council ensures that the proposed changes retain the item's heritage significance.

The Heritage Council has three different functions in relation to development approvals:
  1. Consent Authority
    Managing change to heritage items involves choices between those changes that are likely to retain their heritage significance and those which could diminish it.

    The Heritage Council is the joint consent authority with the local council (and sometimes with other State agencies) for approving changes to items on the State Heritage Register.

    Recognising that unused heritage items can quickly decay through neglect or vandalism, the Heritage Council aims to encourage new uses and practical changes. This maintains the continuing life of heritage items and places.

  2. Advice to Other Consent Authorities
    Other agencies, particularly local councils and the NSW Department of Planning & Infrastructure, regularly refer matters to the Heritage Council. The Heritage Council's advice on these matters is confined to heritage impacts and related issues, while recognising that the other authority may need to take other factors into account to achieve a practical solution.
  3. Participation in Committees
    Heritage Council members are involved in public and private sector committees set up to find solutions for development proposals involving heritage items. The contribution of Heritage Council representatives is directed to retaining heritage significance and to continuing the effective use of heritage places.

More information is available on the Development page.

Heritage Council meetings

The full Heritage Council meets eleven times each year. These meetings deal primarily with major policy issues.

There are also major working committees to which the Heritage Council has delegated its functions. The committees consider proposed State Heritage Register listings, approvals for changes to listed items and strategic issues.

More information is available on the Meetings and Committees and panels pages.

Page last updated: 24 October 2012