What does heritage protection mean for me

Heritage controls generally have little impact upon the daily lives of the affected property owners. The application of the Heritage Overlay does not require the landowner to do anything. It simply triggers the need for a planning permit for certain types of buildings and works. 

What is the Heritage Overlay?

The Heritage Overlay is a statutory planning tool that identifies places which are of heritage importance. Its provisions are set out in clause 43.01 of all planning schemes in Victoria.

The overlay seeks to conserve and enhance places of natural and cultural significance, and ensure that new development does not adversely affect the significance of the heritage place. The Heritage Overlay includes a schedule which lists the properties affected by the Heritage Overlay and any additional controls that may apply.

What requires a planning permit?

The Heritage Overlay will usually require a planning permit for:

  • demolition or relocation of buildings
  • subdivision or consolidation of land
  • construction or extension of buildings
  • external alterations
  • signage and advertising
  • tree removal (in some cases)

The fact that a planning permit is required under the Heritage Overlay does not mean that the works will not be permitted. It simply ensures that the heritage impacts of the proposal are considered before a planning permit is issued. This helps to make sure that new developments do not negatively impact on the heritage significance of the place or precinct.

We will always work with any affected property owner to try to achieve a mutually beneficial solution. This includes the availability of free heritage advice through our Heritage Advisor.

However, there is always a possibility that some development proposals may be refused if they do not respect the heritage significance of the area. If a planning permit is refused, an applicant can seek to have the decision reviewed by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Is a planning permit required for repairs and maintenance?

Under the Heritage Overlay, a planning permit is not required to carry out routine maintenance and repairs which do not change the appearance of the heritage place.

For example, a rusty iron roof could be replaced with a new iron roof without the need for a planning permit. However, if the roof were to be replaced with a different material (eg. terracotta tiles) then a planning permit would be required.

Can I demolish a building in the Heritage Overlay?

Being able to demolish a house or building in the Heritage Overlay depends on a number of factors including the extent of demolition and the significance of the property. If the heritage place is individually significant, or if the building contributes to the significance of an area, a permit for demolition is unlikely to be supported.

If a building is non-contributory (eg. a 1970s era home within a precinct valued for its Edwardian heritage) demolition may be supported. However, the design of any replacement building would need to consider its impacts on the heritage significance of surrounding properties.

Property owners and developers are strongly encouraged to discuss proposals with us prior to committing to a project.

Do I always need a planning permit? 

For any properties identified within the Heritage Overlay, planning permits will not be required in the following instances:

  • General maintenance and repairs
  • Water tanks, air conditioning units or other dwelling services not visible from the street
  • Repainting or repairing the building in the same materials and colours
  • Internal alterations of buildings

The Permit Exemptions Policy sets out permit exemptions for minor building and works in Heritage Overlay precincts, and maps the heritage status of properties within precincts. 

In all instances it is recommended that property owners seek advice from us as to whether a permit is required.

How do I get a planning permit for my heritage place?

Owners of properties within the Heritage Overlay must apply for a planning permit from us for external changes; including the construction of extensions, garages and front fences. In addition a planning permit is sometimes required for painting, internal alterations and removing or pruning trees.

The planning permit process allows us to assess how the proposed works will impact on the heritage significance of the place, and protect these properties from inappropriate development.

Before you can apply for a permit, you must complete a pre-application meeting form (pdf, 415KB)  and have a meeting with a member from the Statutory Planning team. This meeting will help ensure that what you are proposing seems reasonable and that you are applying for the correct permit/s.

For more information about what requires a planning permit in the Heritage Overlay, please see Planning Scheme Clause 43.01 (Heritage Overlay) (pdf, 53.6KB).

Do I have to restore my house to its original appearance?

No. The Heritage Overlay does not require an owner to restore or return a property to its original appearance. However, if an owner is interested in restoring a property, our Heritage Advisor is available to provide guidance and advice.

How will heritage controls affect the value of my property?

The general experience with heritage controls is that the special qualities of identified heritage areas, when preserved over time through planning controls, are enhanced. Heritage areas often become highly sought after locations by people who value historical character and by people who know this character is protected by planning scheme controls.

There may be some circumstances, however, where future development of a heritage site may be limited. This may affect a person’s decision to purchase a property.

The introduction of heritage controls will help ensure that the rate of change in an area is consistent with heritage values, reducing the likelihood of unsuitable developments. This increased certainty may support property values.

Will the Heritage Overlay affect my insurance premiums or Council rates?

For any properties identified within the Heritage Overlay, the application of a Heritage Overlay would have no impact on Council rates.

We are not aware of any evidence to suggest that the application of a Heritage Overlay would have any impact on insurance premiums.

Are there different types of heritage significance?

When preparing a heritage study it will be determined whether a place is significant in its own right, or perhaps it is significant as part of an overall group of buildings.

A place that is significant in its own right is called ‘individually significant’.

A place that is significant as part of a larger group of places would be part of a ‘heritage precinct’. Within a heritage precinct, some places are considered to ‘contribute’ towards the significance of the precinct, and others are considered ‘non-contributory’.

What is a precinct in heritage terms?

A heritage precinct is an area containing a number of heritage places (such as buildings, structures, trees or other features) that are historically related or share some common characteristics. They are commonly a group of houses or shopping strip.

My place is part of a precinct, and it’s called ‘contributory’ – what does this mean?

Within a heritage precinct, the main objective is to ensure conservation of elements that contribute to the significance of the precinct. Most of the places within heritage precincts contribute to the significance of the precinct and are referred to as ‘contributory’ places.

My place is part of a precinct, and it’s called ‘non-contributory’ – what does this mean?

Within a heritage precinct, the main objective is to ensure conservation of elements that contribute to the significance of the precinct. Not every building or landscape element will be significant, and these are referred to as ‘non-contributory’.

Removing or altering non-contributory elements is not usually a major concern. However it is important where development occurs, it is in a manner appropriate to the significance, character and appearance of the heritage area.

Information for owners of heritage places included in the Victorian Heritage Register

Heritage Victoria have released a new brochure outlining guidelines for owners of heritage places included in the Victorian Heritage Register (pdf, 1.03MB).


Last updated: Sunday, 16 June 2019, 2:08 AM