How Heritage places are protected

Heritage is protected through a regulatory framework at Commonwealth, State and local level. There are both statutory obligations and industry standards for protecting and managing cultural heritage including The Burra Charter: The Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance. Apart from Aboriginal heritage, the level of significance of a place —national, state, local — determines which legislative framework governs its protection.

Aboriginal Victoria is the State Government Agency for all matters concerned with the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage. Heritage Victoria is the State Government Agency for historic heritage. The Commonwealth Government department with responsibility for Australia’s heritage is the Department of the Environment and Energy

One of the objectives of planning in Victoria is:

“to conserve and enhance those buildings, areas or other places which are of scientific, aesthetic, architectural or historical interest, or otherwise of special cultural value.” (Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic) s. 4(1)(d))

It is also State planning policy that:

“Planning should ensure all new land use and development appropriately responds to its landscape, valued built form and cultural context, and protect places and sites with significant heritage, architectural, aesthetic, scientific and cultural value.” (State Planning Policy Framework 2018, Clause 15)

It is Council policy:

“To protect places of natural and cultural heritage.” (Municipal Strategic Statement, Objective 4, Clause 21.05-3).

The Heritage Overlay

The main method of protecting local heritage places is the Heritage Overlay. This planning control is established by the State Government and has two parts: the general provisions incorporating the purpose, scope, permit requirements and decision guidelines and the schedule.

The provisions in Clause 43.1 Heritage Overlay cannot be altered by Council. While the Clause itself is standard across Victoria and cannot be altered, the schedule can be amended by a local planning authority in limited ways.

The schedule lists individual places of significance and can include some additional requirements for permits eg paint controls.

The purpose of the Heritage Overlay is:

  • To implement the State Planning Policy Framework and the Local Planning Policy Framework, including the Municipal Strategic Statement and local planning policies.
  • To conserve and enhance heritage places of natural or cultural significance.
  • To conserve and enhance those elements which contribute to the significance of heritage places.
  • To ensure that development does not adversely affect the significance of heritage places.
  • To conserve specifically identified heritage places by allowing a use that would otherwise be prohibited if this will demonstrably assist with the conservation of the significance of the heritage place.

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

All aboriginal heritage in Victoria, known or otherwise, is protected by the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic).

It is Council Policy:

  • To provide for the identification of sites of Aboriginal cultural significance and the appropriate level of management in consultation with the local Aboriginal community
  • To ensure new uses, developments and works do not impede on or detract from sites and features of Aboriginal cultural heritage and archaeological significance. (Local Planning Policy Framework, Clause 22.05)

Council has completed four studies into Aboriginal heritage. The content of the studies is not available to the public as it identifies known sites of Aboriginal Heritage.

  • Ellender, I., 1989, The Plenty Valley Corridor: The Archaeological Survey of Aboriginal Sites
  • Ellender, I, 1994, The Aboriginal Heritage of the Shire of Eltham
  • Du Cros and Associates, 1996, Nillumbik Shire Council Aboriginal Heritage Study
  • Tardis Enterprises, 2006, Nillumbik Shire Heritage Review