Listing heritage

How places are heritage listed

Ku-ring-gai Council progressively reviews its local historic places to identify local heritage, worthy of heritage listing. This strategic process begins with undertaking heritage studies or heritage assessments prepared by qualified and experienced heritage consultants. It is the same process for de-listing or changes to existing heritage listings.

Listing merit

A place is worthy of local heritage listing when it has local heritage significance. It’s not just old, beautiful or rare places that are heritage listed. The local significance of a place is measured against seven criteria set by the NSW Heritage Council criteria for:

  • Aesthetic or technical value.
  • Historic value.
  • Associations with important people or events.
  • Social or community value.
  • Research value.
  • Rarity.
  • Representative value.

The Heritage NSW guideline, Assessing Heritage Significance, sets out the steps and considerations for this assessment. For instance, places are not considered significant to the community if only valued in preference to a proposed alternative. Existing listing of other places with similar characteristics does not disqualify a place from listing, as set out in this guide, because each place has its own history and contribution.

The heritage significance of a place is assessed by the government authority through the listing process in accordance with these NSW standards. The heritage significance of a place is confirmed when it is listed on the heritage schedule of a local environmental plan by the local council or on the State Heritage Register by the NSW Heritage Council.

Listing process

For Council to consider listing or de-listing a place, this requires an amendment to the local environmental plan through a planning proposal. This planning process is directed by planning law, involving many steps that typically take at least a year to complete. It is during this process that Council invites and considers owner and public comments on the proposed listing or de-listing.

If supported in principle by Council staff and/or the Heritage Reference Committee for proposal to Council, the listing or de-listing process requires Council to:

  • Approve the planning proposal to amend the heritage schedule for public exhibition.
  • Consult the owner, public and government agencies about the proposed listing or change through a public exhibition.
  • Consider submissions received during the public exhibition.
  • Approve the final listing or de-listing following public exhibition.

A listing request or proposal has no legal effect or protection until it is exhibited as a proposed amendment to the local environmental plan with Council’s approval. If approved by Council after the exhibition, the listing or de-listing takes effect when the local environmental plan amendment is made through publication on the NSW legislation website.

Requests for listing or de-listing

Heritage lists are reviewed strategically by Council from time to time according to its work program, such as through a heritage study. Council does not review or assess sites for listing or de-listing, individually, on request. These matters were considered through the completed listing process or are considered through a new planning proposal, as outlined above.

If you wish to ask Council to consider a place for heritage listing or de-listing individually, outside of Council’s strategic work program, you will need to submit the following information:

  1. A heritage assessment to justify the listing or de-listing merit, as set out in the Heritage NSW guideline at: Assessing Heritage Significance(PDF, 767KB); and
  2. A planning proposal to amend the local plan as described further here.

These reports need to be prepared by appropriately qualified and experienced professionals.

To ask Council to change or remove an existing listing, your submitted information would need to demonstrate how the circumstances have substantially changed since the listing was approved, such as through an approved building demolition.

The following steps may be required for Council to consider your request and submitted information:

  1. A pre-planning proposal meeting and associated fees.
  2. Referral to Council’s Heritage Reference Committee to advise Council on the merit of the proposal.

There is no guarantee Council will support these proposals.

Are trees individually heritage listed?

Trees and natural features may be heritage listed collectively as part of a park, avenue, landscape or setting to a heritage item or within a heritage conservation area. Ku-ring-gai Council does not generally heritage list stand-along trees or natural features.

Heritage listing does not protect the ecological values of trees or living things, such as biodiversity. Heritage listing instead protects cultural heritage values like historic, aesthetic or rarity value when works are proposed.

Individual trees and their ecological values are protected by tree preservation controls in Council's development control plan and biodiversity mapping in Council's local environmental plan. These protect flora and fauna without the need to amend the local environmental plan for heritage listing. The tree preservation development controls replace the former Tree Protection Orders.

The State and Federal government also protect trees and threatened species under separate laws including the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 and the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

For more information on tree protection, see:

Updating heritage inventories

Information on the significance of listed places is added to the heritage inventory for the place; either online on the State Heritage Inventory or held in Council’s records. This inventory information is non-statutory, meaning it does not define or alter a heritage listing or its legal effect. Essentially a summary, the inventory does not provide a comprehensive assessment or guidance for listed places like a conservation management plan. Standards for inventories have changed over time from the early days when they only contained identifying information like an address and a photograph and were not digital or online.

Council is progressively updating the inventory information for its listed places, as new information becomes available, such as building alterations or further research. For listed places, you may submit new or updated information for Council to consider including in the heritage inventory, where this does not seek to alter the listing. No formal planning process is required for this type of inventory update.

Researching a place

Investigating a place’s history and physical features are the first steps towards assessing its heritage significance. This involves searching for and reviewing available historic records. The purpose of this research is to write a referenced history and description for the place. By preparing this history and description, you can help others to better understand the place.

Anyone can begin to research a property history by reviewing the local history records at Gordon Library.

For more information or assistance with researching local history at Gordon Library, contact or 9424 0120.

Other useful research sources