How Heritage is identified and assessed

Most local heritage places are identified through a municipal heritage study, carried out by an experienced heritage consultant.

Heritage studies begin, generally, with a brief history of the physical development of a particular area written by an historian. This history is known as a ‘thematic history’ and identifies themes such as the development of towns, farming and agriculture, education and so on.

It identifies broad locations for potential heritage sites and provides a context for the comparative assessment of places of heritage significance.

The next stage is fieldwork and identifies places which illustrate the themes of the history. The history is also reviewed in the light of what is found during fieldwork.

During the initial stages of the heritage study, the community and local historical societies are encouraged to nominate sites and places of potential heritage significance.

A nominated place then undergoes a heritage assessment in order to determine whether it is significant and warrants heritage protection at either a state or local level. Council currently has the following heritage studies completed between 1992 and 2009:

  • Gould, Megan, 1992, Shire of Whittlesea Heritage Study
  • Bick, David, 1992, Shire of Eltham Heritage Study
  • Butler, Graeme and associates, 1996, Nillumbik Shire Heritage Study Stage 1, Review, Heritage Survey and Environmental History
  • Butler, Graeme, and associates, 1997, Nillumbik Shire Heritage Study Stage 2, Significant Places
  • Butler, Graeme and associates, 2001, Nillumbik Shire Heritage Study Stage 2 Shire of Eltham Heritage Study 1992 Revision
  • Butler, Graeme and associates, 2006, Heritage Assessments Shire of Nillumbik C13
  • HLCD Pty Ltd, 2009, Shire of Nillumbik Heritage Gap Study Framework – a framework for the assessment of places of potential significance in the Shire of Nillumbik

How heritage assessments are undertaken 

Heritage assessments are generally carried out by qualified and experienced professionals following the principles and process set out in the Burra Charter relating to the identification of values: aesthetic, historic, scientific, social and spiritual and relating them to a set of criteria.

In August 2008, the Heritage Council of Victoria adopted a set of criteria (last updated June 2014) to be used in assessing places for the Victorian Heritage Register. For consistency and best practice, these (and any updates made by Heritage Victoria) will be used for all heritage assessments in Nillumbik for all assessments.

Using the criteria, places are assessed as being of national, state or local significance and, depending on their level of significance, are managed through a mix of legislation, policies, strategies and best practice guidelines on three government levels: Commonwealth, State and local. In other words, apart from Aboriginal heritage, the level of significance of a place determines which legislative framework governs its protection.