Heritage approvals

We can help you navigate development approvals in Victoria.

We offer free-of-charge specialist advice on the development approvals process. We can help you understand the development approvals process in Victoria and provide specific advice on licence and permit requirements for your project.

For a confidential discussion regarding your project please contact us.

The Victorian Heritage Register protects heritage buildings and places whilst ensuring development can occur.

The Victorian Heritage Register is established under the Heritage Act 2017.  It provides for the heritage permit process, whilst the Planning and Environment Act 1987 establishes the heritage overlay under Victorian Planning Provisions.

What is a heritage permit?

A heritage permit is required when changes are made to a building or place that is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.  Heritage permits are issued to protect the features of heritage places, objects, archaeological sites and historic shipwrecks that are significant to Victoria.

Heritage Victoria is the agency responsible for heritage permits. Heritage Victoria’s main role is to assist in identifying, protecting and interpreting Victoria's most significant cultural heritage resources. Heritage Victoria advises private owners, local and State government, industry and the general community on heritage matters and aims to make heritage identification, protection and management accessible and easily understood.

Is my property on the Heritage Register?

Only a small percentage of important places and objects in Victoria meet the criteria for inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register. Places of State-level cultural heritage significance are listed in the Victorian Heritage Database.

To identify the current status of your property you can apply for a heritage certificate from Heritage Victoria. The certificate will tell you if the property is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, if the place is being considered for nomination and if the place is included on the Victorian Heritage Inventory.

Will I need a heritage permit?

Heritage permits are required for any activity that alters a place or object listed on the Heritage Register, unless specifically exempt under the registration. The triggers for a heritage permit may include:

  • Building extensions, constructions, interior works, demolition or relocation of buildings and structures;
  • Changes of colour schemes and signage;
  • Subdivision and construction of new buildings and garden structures such as fences or decks, pathways and driveways, and change of materials;
  • Works to registered trees and gardens which are not regular maintenance work;

An application for consent is required to undertake any works or activities at archaeological sites listed on the Heritage Inventory.

Where any doubt exists, confirmation from Heritage Victoria must be sought prior to undertaking works as Parliament has determined that it is a criminal offence to undertake works without a heritage permit.

How do I apply for a heritage permit?

Applying for a heritage permit is done through Heritage Victoria. Fees for permits vary.  A  schedule is available on their website (www.heritage.vic.gov.au)

A current Certificate of Title for the heritage place must be provided with the application. To be considered current, the Certificate of Title must be dated within 30 days of the date that the application is lodged.

To expedite the processing of a permit application, it is strongly recommended that applicants consider having relevant support documentation produced by an appropriate professional. We can provide you with a list of qualified consultants.

Permits must be processed by the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria within 60 days unless an extension is granted by the Heritage Council. Previous experience has shown that most minor matters are dealt with in less than 30 days.  Complex matters may involve public advertisement and further information requests which are not included in the 60 days time frame.

The Executive Director of Heritage Victoria may determine whether an application for a heritage permit is advertised to enable interested parties to make submissions. Usually only those applications involving major alterations and contentious matters require advertising for a period of 14 days.

A flow chart outlining the process for obtaining a heritage permit can be found at www.heritage.vic.gov.au/permits/apply-for-a-permit

Can I appeal against a decision?

Applicants or owners, who are dissatisfied with a permit refusal, or the conditions applied to a permit, may appeal to the Heritage Council within 60 days of the permit issue date. There are otherwise no third party appeal rights.

An appeal must be lodged with the Heritage Council in writing in the form “Permit to Appeal to Heritage Council”. The Heritage Council must conduct a hearing requested by the applicant or the relevant responsible authority, and determine a review within 60 days.

The Heritage Council must consider the issues set out in S.73(1)of the Heritage Act 1995.

Can I commence work without a valid heritage permit?

Works to heritage places can only occur in accordance with a valid permit. A new permit or an amendment to a permit is required whenever it is proposed to undertake works beyond those specified in a permit.

Applicants are considered responsible for the actions of any person they engage to do works to a heritage place and must ensure adequate steps are taken to prevent works being undertaken other than in accordance with a permit.

How are heritage values recognised under Victorian Planning Provisions?

Heritage places are also protected under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 through the Victorian Planning Provisions’ Heritage Overlay. The purpose of the heritage overlay is to:

  • conserve and enhance heritage places of natural or cultural significance and those elements which contribute to the significance of heritage places;
  • ensure that development does not adversely affect the significance of heritage places; and
  • 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.

If a property is covered by a heritage overlay under the local Planning Scheme, a planning permit may be required. We can help you to find out whether your property is covered by a heritage overlay.

When do I require a planning permit under the Heritage Overlay?

A permit is likely to be required to undertake any of the following activities on a site covered by a Heritage Overlay:

  • subdivide land;
  • demolish or remove a building;
  • construct a building or construct or carry out works;
  • externally alter a building by structural work, rendering, sandblasting or in any other way (including painting and adding signage);
  • internally alter a building if the schedule to the Heritage Overlay indicates that internal alteration controls apply;
  • carry out any works which change the appearance of a heritage place; or
  • remove, destroy or lop a tree if the schedule to the Heritage Overlay identifies the heritage place as one where tree controls apply.

How do I apply for a planning permit under the Heritage Overlay?

Please see our Planning Approvals page for detailed information on the planning permit application process.

Will the application be subject to notice and review?

The responsible authority (usually local Council) may determine that the planning permit application is exempt from notice and review provisions for a number of these activities.

Source: Heritage Victoria
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning – Victorian Planning Provisions