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Undertaking alterations to a heritage building

You should understand the regulations and guidelines in place before you undertake any alterations to heritage buildings in NSW.

When do I need development consent?

Did you know there are some building works that can be carried out to heritage items or buildings within a conservation area without development consent? 

The relevant local environmental plan will have a clause (in most cases, Clause 5.10(3) based on the Standard Instrument) that covers certain minor works that do not require formal approval from council. 

In most cases, a written notice to the council will suffice. The details of the standard clause are below: 

(3) When consent not required 

However, development consent under this clause is not required if: 

    (a) the applicant has notified the consent authority of the proposed development and the consent authority has advised the applicant in writing before any work is carried out that it is satisfied that the proposed development: 


      (i) is of a minor nature or is for the maintenance of the heritage item, Aboriginal object, Aboriginal place of heritage significance or archaeological site or a building, work, relic, tree or place within the heritage conservation area, and 
      (ii) would not adversely affect the heritage significance of the heritage item, Aboriginal object, Aboriginal place, archaeological site or heritage conservation area.

What are considered minor works?

Minor works may include: 

  • replacement or renovation of a non-original bathroom or kitchen 
  • replacement or renovation of a doorway, cupboard, wardrobe or shelving 
  • external works could include replacement of non-traditional windows and doors with windows 
    and doors of a traditional size and materials 

reinstatement of a palisade fence, gate or masonry plinth using traditional proportions, size and 

The above list are examples only and the main consideration is that you need to demonstrate that the works are of a minor nature or for the maintenance of the building and will not adversely affect the significance of the building or conservation area. 

Before undertaking any work, it is important to check the Local Environment Plan (LEP) for the council area you are working in to ensure this clause does apply. 

It is appropriate to discuss any plans with the local council before commencing any works and it is important to note that approval cannot be given if works have commenced. 

To find out more, contact HIA’s Planning and Environment team.

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