Frequently Asked Questions

We have broken our heritage frequently asked questions down into multiple categories should you want to develop your property.

Frequently Asked Questions

Heritage Items

In a planning context, heritage refers to things in our built and natural environment that we want to conserve for future generations to enjoy. Environmental heritage are those places, buildings, works, archaeological relics, moveable objects and precincts of State or local heritage significance.

Heritage significance means buildings and places that have special historical, scientific, cultural, social, archaeological, architectural, natural or aesthetic value.

Heritage sites are classified as either a heritage item or a heritage conservation area (HCA). If land has been identified as either containing a heritage item or located within a HCA, then special heritage planning controls will apply to all development on that land.

A heritage item can be a building, work, place, relic, tree, object or archaeological site. They can include private houses, public buildings, churches and schools, public gardens, trees, shops, bridges, natural areas and memorials.

The level of heritage significance indicates the context in which a heritage item is valued.

Each level of significance is granted statutory recognition and protection by listing the item on a heritage register. In the Newcastle Local Government Area, a heritage item can be listed on one or more of the heritage registers below.

  • Local Significance - listed on Newcastle’s Local Environmental Plan (NLEP). Further information can be found here.
     
  • State Significance - listed on the State Heritage Register (SHR). Further information can be found on Heritage NSW’s website which can be found here.

The State Heritage Inventory (SHI) is an online database of heritage items in NSW. Each heritage item and heritage conservation area will have a listing sheet on the State Heritage Inventory which provides a clear statement of its heritage significance. This inventory is subject to ongoing updates as information becomes available.

Each listing sheet has been prepared in accordance with guidelines provided by Heritage NSW. The NSW Heritage Inventory can be found here.

Heritage items are listed on Schedule 5 of the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan 2012.

To check if your property is a heritage item, use the NSW Planning Portal online mapping tool ePlanning Spatial Viewer.

Most heritage items are listed on the NSW Heritage Inventory, which can be found here.

Get a Section 10.7 Planning Certificate from City of Newcastle for confirmation.

We follow a process developed by the NSW Heritage Council published as the Assessing Heritage Significance Guideline, the standard criteria used for heritage significance assessment in New South Wales. The process pulls together the supporting evidence to determine if a place meets the thresholds for heritage listing, typically in the form of a heritage study. Heritage studies are publicly exhibited to allow the community to decide which items and places are eventually heritage listed. 

Determining heritage significance is a complex and lengthy process by professionals with expertise in heritage conservation. Only when there is clear evidence of heritage significance can a place be considered for heritage listing. 

The decision to list is not taken lightly. Over the last 30 years, we have conducted many heritage studies to help us identify the best examples of important heritage places - places considered special because they reflect our history and cultural identity. We did a heritage study in 1997 and many of the places identified are now listed as heritage items. 

Heritage items are granted statutory recognition and protection through listing on the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan (NLEP). The listing boundaries are shown on the Heritage Maps. The statutory listing provides an effective mechanism for managing change to the property. Listing on the NLEP generally means that internal and external structural alterations, demolition and subdivision to a heritage listed property need to be approved by City of Newcastle so that the impacts on the heritage item can be considered.

City of Newcastle (CN) values feedback from the community on what local residents regard as their local heritage.

To nominate your property to be included in one of CN’s Heritage Reviews for a detailed heritage assessment, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the property of local heritage significance to the people of Newcastle?
  • Have you research which meets at least one of seven NSW heritage assessment criteria set by the Heritage Council of NSW?
  • Have you completed the Local Heritage Listing Nomination or Amendment application form with adequate and sufficient information?

Use this Local Heritage Listing Nomination or Amendment application form to nominate a new local heritage item listing on the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan. Though CN welcomes nominations for new heritage items from anyone, submitting a nomination does not guarantee listing on the local environmental plan.

Interim Heritage Orders protect items (places and objects) potentially of heritage significance that are under immediate threat.

Items under an interim heritage order cannot be harmed. This provides time for an in-depth heritage assessment to be carried out.

Items can only be placed under an Interim Heritage Order by the Minister responsible for administering the Heritage Act 1977 on recommendation of the Heritage Council, or by local councils under delegation (such as City of Newcastle).

Interim heritage orders last for six months from the date of granting.

Heritage Conservation Areas

A Heritage Conservation Area (HCA)  is an area of land recognised and valued for the collective nature of buildings and elements in that area that contribute to an overall heritage significance that is worth protecting. It can include a group of buildings, landscape or whole suburbs with particular heritage values that give it a distinct identity. The heritage values can include historical origins, subdivision patterns, and consistency of building materials or the common age of its building stock.

Newcastle has a rich portfolio of dedicated HCAs that are recognised for their character and heritage significance. We manage them to reinforce our cultural identity and sense of pride in our heritage places.

The City of Newcastle lists eight Heritage Conservation Areas for their distinctive character and features. Please read each of the suburbs listed below to view the map and its respective inventory listing sheet.

Cooks Hill

Cooks Hill has a distinctive village character that is evocative of another time.

  1. Cooks Hill Map (PDF)
  2. Cooks Hill Heritage Inventory Listing Sheet (PDF)

Glebe Road Federation Cottages

The area is important at the local level in demonstrating the principal characteristics of the Federation period and the nature of residential building construction in Newcastle between 1909 and 1915.

  1. Glebe Road Federation Cottages Map (PDF)
  2. Glebe Road Federation Cottages Heritage Inventory Listing Sheet (PDF)

Hamilton Business Centre (Beaumont Street)

The Hamilton Business Centre (Beaumont Street) contains many examples of two storey shops and commercial premises that serve to reflect the various periods of economic growth and social history. The area is representative of the waves of immigration during the 20th century and the eastern European immigrants who came to Newcastle established businesses in the street.

  1. Hamilton Business Centre Map (PDF)
  2. Hamilton Business Centre Heritage Inventory Listing Sheet (PDF)

Hamilton Residential Precinct

The Hamilton Residential Precinct Heritage Conservation Area is a low scale, residential area typified by small lot housing of generally one or two storeys, with the character of the area and its streetscapes representative of the late Victorian, Federation and Inter-war periods of Australian urban development.

  1. Hamilton Residential Precinct Map (PDF)
  2. Hamilton Residential Precinct Heritage Inventory Listing Sheet (PDF)

Hamilton South 'Garden Suburb'

This area was designed as a 'garden suburb' where houses were built in the single storey bungalow form in a garden setting. Parkway Avenue is a strong visual legacy of the town plan by the architects Sulman and Hennessey.

  1. Hamilton South 'Garden Suburb' Map (PDF)
  2. Hamilton South Garden Suburb Heritage Inventory Listing Sheet (PDF)

Newcastle City Centre

Newcastle is the second oldest city in NSW. It features a special blend of old and new architecture, archaeological sites and a places of historical interest. It is listed as a heritage conservation area as we acknowledge that the future of the city is embedded in its human scaled streetscapes, its unique history and cultural heritage.

  1. CBD Map (PDF)
  2. Heritage Inventory Listing Sheet - Newcastle City Centre (PDF)

Newcastle East

Newcastle East has long been a focus of industrial and residential activity. The East End is characterised by two and three storey terrace houses on narrow lots, with some important examples of workers' cottages.

  1. Newcastle East Map (PDF)
  2. Newcastle East Heritage Inventory Listing Sheet (PDF)

The Hill

First known as Church Hill - then Prospect Hill - this area is the historic heart of Newcastle with a 'San Franciscan' feel with streets running down the hill to the harbour.

  1. The Hill Map (PDF)
  2. The Hill Heritage Inventory Listing Sheet (PDF)

Heritage Conservation Areas (HCAs) are listed on Schedule 5 of the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan 2012.

To check if your property is in an HCA, use the NSW Planning Portal online mapping tool ePlanning Spatial Viewer.

HCAs are listed on the NSW Heritage Inventory, which can be found here.

Get a Section 10.7 Planning Certificate from City of Newcastle for confirmation.

We follow a process developed by the NSW Heritage Council published as the Assessing Heritage Significance Guideline, the standard criteria used for heritage significance assessment in New South Wales. The process determines why the heritage conservation areas (HCAs) are valued by the community and which elements are worthy of conservation. These key elements generally include the urban grain; the formal appearance of buildings; the way individual buildings relate to each other and to their context, both natural and by humans; the historical uses within the HCA; and the intangible values embodied in those tangible aspects.

The Heritage Conservation Areas (HCAs) are granted statutory recognition and protection through listing on the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan (NLEP). The listing boundaries are shown on the Heritage Maps. The statutory listing provides an effective mechanism for managing change on an areawide basis. Listing on the NLEP generally means that external and structural alterations, demolition and subdivision within a HCA need to be approved by City of Newcastle so that the impacts on the HCA as a whole can be considered.

The Newcastle Development Control Plan (NDCP) and the accompanying Heritage Technical Manual supplement the heritage controls contained in the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan (NLEP) and provide more detailed guidance for new development within the heritage conservation areas (HCAs).

City of Newcastle (CN) is able to approve a range of works to a property in a HCA, including the demolition of buildings that do not contribute to the significance of the HCA.

Non-contributory buildings offer important opportunities for appropriately designed redevelopment within the HCAs. CN would generally allow the removal of intrusive elements that detract from the overall character of the HCA (although buildings that are uncharacteristic are not necessarily intrusive and might warrant retention and statutory protection). Demolition of contributory buildings is not supported, and it is preferable to retain and restore buildings that have a neutral effect on the HCA.

Contributory buildings are buildings that contribute to the character of the heritage conservation area (HCA). It includes heritage items as well as buildings that have been altered since their original construction but still contribute to the HCA character.

Heritage Conservation Areas (HCAs) contain groups of buildings or whole suburbs where the place and its setting has been found to have heritage significance. The level of contribution that each building makes to a HCA has been assessed and identified as either contributory, neutral or non-contributory. The contribution of any particular building to the area or streetscape’s character and heritage significance, based on the Contribution Buildings Map, guides the approach to development in HCAs. Please refer to the Contributory Buildings Maps provided in the Heritage Technical Manual for further details. 

New design in a heritage conservation area (HCA) does not mean an imitation but a careful analysis of surrounding contributory elements (’Contributory’ refers to the contribution that the element makes to the significance of the HCA as a whole). The NSW Heritage Office/RAIA (NSW), Design in Context: Guidelines for Infill Development in the Historic Environment, 2005, outlines the design criteria for new development in a HCA. Having regard to this, City of Newcastle (CN) would generally allow new development that is appropriate to its context in terms siting, scale, external form, materials/finishes and detailing. CN would generally allow the construction of infill buildings that are a contemporary interpretation of the elements that are characteristic in the HCA. However, contemporary does not necessarily mean it is appropriate. What this means is that new development should be identifiable as the product of its own time but should also be compatible. To help understand what gives a HCA its overall visual quality consider the place the building has in the streetscape. View corridors, focal points and land uses are integral to the HCAs. Consider the setbacks, landscape elements, the shape, the roof and roof features, fenestration and projections, and the exterior materials. Close range visual aspects include the surface quality of the materials such as their colour, texture, craftsmanship, detailing and other subtle aspects that cannot be perceived from distance.

City of Newcastle (CN) would generally allow additions to contributory buildings that are not visible from the street and that are smaller in height and size than the existing building (’Contributory buildings’ are buildings that contribute to the character of the heritage conservation area). Upgrades to kitchens, bathrooms and services to meet contemporary standards are also generally acceptable. CN would generally not allow alterations and/or additions to the front elevation of a contributory building nor modifications where substantial changes such as roof additions or facade remodelling that would alter the style of the building, are involved. CN would allow restoration works that follow the principles contained in the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter. CN’s approval is not required for minor external works to a contributory building such as ‘like for like’ repairs and periodic maintenance.

Across the Newcastle local government area, building height and density is set by the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan (NLEP) and shown on the Height of Building maps and the Floor Space Ratio (FSR) maps that accompany the NLEP. However, most residential properties within the heritage conservation areas (HCAs) are not included in the Height of Building maps or the FSR maps because these areas do not have a prescribed height limit or FSR. The purpose of excluding LEP building height and FSR controls in HCAs is to encourage new development to be more responsive to existing character and encourage the conservation and protection of contributory buildings in HCAs. 

Heritage conservation requires a careful process of analysis and a range of skills. For further assistance, please discuss your heritage enquiry or proposed works with City of Newcastle’s in-house Duty Officer. This free advisory service is provided either over the phone or in person at City of Newcastle's Offices. We encourage you to make an appointment with the Duty Officer by phoning (02) 4974 2000.

It is recommended that prospective applicant’s also visit the Heritage NSW website. Contact Heritage NSW on 9873 8500 or at heritagemailbox@environment.nsw.gov.au for any enquiries regarding a State Heritage policy or proposed works potentially affecting State listed heritage items, archaeology and Aboriginal heritage sites.

Works and maintenance design guidelines

Regular maintenance is essential for all buildings and is more cost effective in the long term than large scale work every 20-30 years. Attending to a minor problem can prevent the problem causing more extensive building defects.

Appropriate techniques should be used to ensure maintenance does not create other problems with the building fabric.

Heritage NSW has prepared a number of publications that provide comprehensive technical advice and information on maintenance of buildings with such subjects as commercial limewashes, repointing lime mortar joints, treating biological growths on historic masonry, cracking of buildings in clay soils, rising damp, corrugated roofing, timber repairs, and removing paint from old buildings. They are free to download from the Publications and Resources page of the  Heritage NSW website and are found under the heading 'Maintenance Series.' These documents are not a substitute for professional advice. Employing a conservation specialist is usually the easiest and often, in the long run, the most economical way of ensuring the job is done well.

In all cases, you should follow a logical progression in carrying out conservation work:

1. Investigate the physical and documentary evidence of the place;
2. Assess the heritage significance of the place;
3. Develop a conservation and management approach based on the importance of the place;
4. Ensure you have obtained approvals (where necessary);
5. Carry out the work;
6. Record what you have done.

You should seek advice on whether consent is required or not prior to commencing any works. If you are uncertain which approval you require please talk to City of Newcastle’s Duty Officer by phoning (02) 4974 2000. The three types of approval for heritage item and heritage conservation area properties are:

  1. Development application.
  2. Heritage Minor Works or Maintenance Notification.
  3. Exempt development.

Yes. You may have just bought an old house and would like to know more about it, would like to restore your property or find out about who lived in it. Researching your property can assist you in understanding it and what it important about it. Please go to our Heritage Research and Publications page for details of some of our favourite local, NSW and Australian resources to visit, many of which are online.

Heritage Council Victoria has produced an excellent online resource showcasing the common types of historic houses found throughout Victoria and Australia. What House is That? contains links to heritage blogs, photographs of heritage buildings and an exciting array of information produced for owners of historic buildings.

It makes good sense to use building and design professionals who have experience in heritage conservation work. Heritage consultants, and some specialist builders and architects are trained to offer a high degree of expertise in historic buildings and traditional construction. This is an especially important consideration if the building you are altering is a heritage item.

Heritage NSW provides a Heritage Consultants Directory containing heritage professionals offering a range of consultancy services across NSW metropolitan and regional areas.

Before engaging a consultant, you should always check their suitability for your project requirements. Check their qualifications, membership/s and accreditation, ask about relevant experience and examples of previous work, as well as references from previous clients. Australia International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) is the peak body for professionals with appropriate conservation experience in Australia.

A comprehensive Products & Services Directory has been put together by the NSW Heritage Council to assist people in finding heritage tradespeople and products.

Maitland City Council's Heritage Group has produced a list of heritage tradespeople and suppliers in the Hunter region which is published as the Maitland Heritage Trades Directory and Maitland House Style Guide. This is a terrific resource for use in Newcastle as well.

Scale and character

  • Additions should be designed to respect the form and style of the existing building. They should not visually dominate the existing building.
  • Materials should generally match, but new materials should appear as later work, not part of the original building. For example, window material should be the same as the existing building but mortar replaced by new mortar of similar strength and colour.
  • Details can differ from the existing building but generally complement those used in the architectural period. For example, Federation details should not be used on a Californian bungalow style.

Roof and chimneys

  • Roofs should match existing form and massing, not dominate and not involve more elaborate detail.
  • Cladding materials should match the existing ones.
  • Chimneys should be retained as traditional elements.

Verandahs

  • Verandas are appropriate for the majority of building styles in Newcastle.
  • Verandas and porches should be retained and not infilled.
  • It is desirable to remove infill work.

Colour schemes

General colour choice can be the property owner's, under these guidelines:

  • Traditional colours can be matched to the house style and can enhance the appearance.
  • Colour schemes can be based on original or later schemes determined by paint scrapes or other investigative processes.
  • New schemes can be used but generally should use three to four colours with architectural details picked out in contrasting colours.
  • Painting over face brickwork or natural stone or new cement rendering not present originally IS NOT permitted.
  • As a general rule, changing the colour of original roof tiles will not be supported. Roof materials must not be changed without the prior approval of City of Newcastle (CN). 

Traditionally, colour palettes were designed for a particular period and architectural style specific to a building. Heritage houses will often look their best in colours matching the age and architectural style of the building.

We have prepared a useful Traditional Finishes and Colour Schemes guide which includes the traditional range of colours with the corresponding Australian Standard numbers for you to refer to or colour match where appropriate.

Masonry wall surfaces such as face brick can be maintained by a gentle clean or by re-pointing the joints where significant deterioration is evident. Taking care of masonry surfaces is the best way of maintaining the beauty of historic buildings.

You will need to notify CN of your proposed colour if you own a heritage property and intend on changing the external colours. Do this via a Heritage Minor Works or Maintenance Notification application.

If you do not intend to change the external colours (you are simply re-painting in the same colour scheme), you are not required to notify CN.

Windows and doors

  • New windows and door openings should generally match the existing in proportion and material.

Garages

  • A garage must be sited to rear, side or under the existing house and preferably detached in the rear yard. It must not be at the front of the property.
  • For double garages, doors should be separate.
  • Additional car spaces should be designed to be secondary and as a lean-to addition to reduce bulk.
  • Carports should be simple open structures without decoration.
  • Original gravel drives should be retained.
  • Wheel strips with grass or gravel infill are preferred.
  • Driveways should be single car width so they do not dominate gardens.
  • Where existing circular drives exist, they should be retained.

Front fences and gates

  • Front fences and gates should be appropriate to the architectural period or style.
  • They should not form visual barriers to the streetscape and the height must be appropriate.

They must be consistent with other CN fence policies.

The front fences of houses are a vital part of the character and appearance of heritage conservation areas. Historically, front fences were of a height and style that permitted a view into and out of the property, while side and back fences were higher and more solid to ensure privacy. 

Sufficient evidence can often be pieced together from surviving relics and old photographs. There is no substitute for research: the best fence for an old building is a replica of the one it originally had. Original and significant fences should be retained and repaired where possible. Fences should not reproduce historical detail from other periods ("mock heritage"). Simple cottage fences of timber pickets or woven wire should not be replaced with "fancy" styles.

Fences should be in character with the style in which the house was built. Low timber picket fences and simple low brick pier type fences with pipe and mesh inserts predominate. Side and rear fences were generally 1500 high timber palings or corrugated galvanised sheets.

Wagga City Council has produced a guide for period fencing which is published as ‘Which Fence for My House? House and Fence Styles for Wagga Wagga 1860-1960’. This is a terrific resource for use in Newcastle as well.

You will need to notify CN of your proposed front fence if you live in a heritage property and you intend on changing the existing style or building material. Do this via a Heritage Minor Works or Maintenance Notification application.

If you do not intend to change the existing style or building material (you are simply replacing like for like), you are not required to notify CN.

Pools and tennis courts

  • Pool and tennis courts are new elements. They are generally acceptable if they can be built in an appropriate location, do not require removal of significant trees or garden elements and do not have an adverse impact on the setting.
  • They must conform with other CN policies.

Gardens

  • Are a strong and distinctive part of the heritage of Newcastle.
  • New gardens should be appropriate for the style and period of the house.
  • Existing mature trees are protected and should be retained.

Dormers and skylights

  • Flat skylights are usually acceptable on roofs but should be unobtrusive, not on the main elevation and an appropriate size.
  • Dormers are common to certain architectural styles and not appropriate on some styles.

Dormers must be carefully located and of an appropriate size.

Buying a heritage listed property

When many people buy a heritage listed property they want to know what changes they can make.

Put simply, change to a heritage item must be managed to retain or enhance what is culturally significant about the property.

Each heritage listed property is different and what is significant about the property varies. In some an original bathroom must be retained while in others a bathroom could be changed with a minor works, and still another might require a development application.

To find out more about the benefits and effects of listing, the facts versus the myths, and for a practical insight into how to make sympathetic changes, download ‘Heritage listing explained – What it means for you’ produced by the NSW Heritage Council.

To know what is significant ask the real estate agent for a copy of the heritage inventory sheet for the house. This is the heritage assessment the heritage listing is based upon.

If you are still uncertain get advice from a heritage architect or a heritage consultant. Professionals experienced in heritage development know the types of developments that are likely to be approved and can give advice on what is significant about the heritage item eg. the garden, the original wood panelling, an original service wing.

City of Newcastle’s Local Environmental Plan and Development Control Plan contain the development controls and objectives that guide development and change. It is a good idea to read these to understand the rules for change. In Newcastle the interiors of heritage items are also listed so changing the configuration and the finishes would require City of Newcastle approval.

For further assistance, please discuss your heritage enquiry or proposed works with City of Newcastle’s Duty Officer. This free advisory service is provided either over the phone or in person at City of Newcastle's Offices. We encourage you to make an appointment with the Duty Officer by phoning (02) 4974 2000.

If you want to know the likelihood of an approval being granted please apply for pre-Development Application consultation. City of Newcastle staff will discuss the merits of your development proposal and identify any aspects that do not comply. The verbal and written feedback provided can help you address any issues with your proposal prior to lodging your development application (DA). Using the pre-DA consultation service could save you time, money and alleviate uncertainty. For further information click here.

If you are uncertain which approval you require please talk to City of Newcastle’s Duty Officer by phoning (02) 4974 2000. The three types of approval for heritage item properties are:

  1. Development application.
  2. Heritage Minor Works or Maintenance Notification.
  3. Exempt development.

A new fit-out to a non-original bathroom or kitchen in a heritage item may be done under the Heritage Minor Works or Maintenance Notification for Minor Works application process. If the heritage officer determines the scope of the works is not minor, they will require a development application (DA). A new fit-out to an original bathroom or kitchen in a heritage item will require a DA.

Seek advice from a heritage professional on extensions. They can make recommendations on the scope and form of this type of renovation. An extension will require a development application (DA) supported by a heritage impact statement.

If the building is significant, it is unlikely the demolition would be supported. It will require a development application (DA) supported by a heritage impact statement.

Generally speaking, demolition of a heritage item is not permitted.

Demolition of a heritage item would only be approved where irrefutable evidence is provided that the contribution of the building to the significance of the item has been destroyed or lost; or where there is demonstrated overwhelming structural instability that cannot be rectified (an example would be major damage caused by an earthquake). 

The reason we list heritage items is to encourage their care, and to support the conservation of those items through their ongoing maintenance and adaptation. Our heritage items reflect our local history and give a sense of character to the city. Heritage items are evidence of our cultural heritage and have intrinsic value for everyone.

We encourage owners of heritage items to make sure the building has a viable use and to carry out frequent maintenance inspections including doing repairs in a timely manner. Unoccupied buildings face a much greater risk of damage or neglect than those that are used and maintained. 

We are supportive of creative and innovative solutions such as finding appropriate new uses for buildings where the original purpose-built function has ceased.

Heritage buildings provide the talented designer or architect with a rich canvas by which to achieve exemplary design through building recycling. 

Garages forward of the front building line (integrated or freestanding) are generally not supported. This will require a development application (DA) supported by a heritage impact statement.

Private tree removal will require a Heritage Minor Works or Maintenance Notification application supported by an arborist report. The removal of a tree on private property that is a risk to human life or property must be confirmed by a City of Newcastle (CN) inspection and be classed as exempt development with no development application (DA) required.

Any other tree removal requires a DA and approval.

The relevant approvals should be sought from CN before any tree is removed.

The heritage listed items and places of Newcastle not only reveal the story of the City’s past; they safeguard and enrich our present and future.

To find out more about the benefits and effects of listing, the facts versus the myths, and for a practical insight into how to make sympathetic changes, download ‘Heritage listing explained – What it means for you’ produced by the NSW Heritage Council.

Heritage places challenge us to think creatively about building and interior design. They provide inspiration for beautiful, environmentally responsive design.

Historic buildings can be a catalyst for creativity. Designers love working on historic buildings as the potential for creativity and innovation is enhanced in the heritage setting. Anything is possible if you see the beauty in our heritage places.

All existing buildings and structures contain embodied energy. Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building, including the manufacture of building materials, transportation and construction on site. It is more energy efficient to make minor modifications to an existing building than to replace it. Small modifications to heritage houses can make a big difference to your energy consumption. In altering your home be sure not to sacrifice its heritage significance and make improvements in a sensitive manner. Where possible and appropriate, interior improvements could include insulation to ceilings, walls, floors, and heated water pipe installations, door and window seals, floor to ceiling curtains, ceiling fans, energy efficient light bulbs, water saving fittings. Exterior improvements could include deciduous vegetation to the north side of your home to provide shade during summer while allowing sun to get through in the winter, appropriate vegetation to reduce exposure to the east/west sun, and installation of a rainwater tank and solar hot water.

Development controls and approvals

A development application (DA) proposing new development on land or property identified as a heritage item or within a heritage conservation area (HCA) will need to comply with the relevant heritage development controls:

You should seek advice on whether consent is required or not prior to commencing any works. If you are uncertain which approval you require please talk to City of Newcastle’s Duty Officer by phoning (02) 4974 2000. The three types of approval for heritage item and heritage conservation area properties are:

  1. Development application.
  2. Heritage Minor Works or Maintenance Notification.
  3. Exempt development.

In most circumstances, development consent is ordinarily required for works to a heritage item or to a property in a Heritage Conservation Area (HCA). As part of the pre-development application service provided by City of Newcastle (CN), you can submit concept design details of your proposal and our heritage assessment staff will identify any aspects that are non-compliant. We provide verbal and written feedback including, where appropriate, suggestions for enhancing the proposal so it is sympathetic to the heritage significance of the heritage item or HCA. For further information on the pre-development application service provided by CN click here.

Some certain works to a heritage item or a property in a heritage conservation area (HCA) can in fact be undertaken without the need for development consent. Owners of heritage items and buildings within HCAs can apply for a Heritage Minor Works or Maintenance Notification application to undertake works that would otherwise be considered Exempt Development if not for being a heritage item or in a HCA. For further information in relation to what constitutes Minor Heritage Works and the application process click here.

Heritage grants and further questions

The City of Newcastle (CN) provides a number of funding opportunities which are currently under review to support the arts, culture and heritage.

Details of future funding opportunities will be available soon regarding this ‘Community Grants’ program – grants to assist groups deliver a particular community service or address a need such as new community infrastructure or host an event/festival. This includes a heritage category. Find out more about Grants at CN.

To search for other funding opportunities that are currently open, to register to receive emailed alerts for new grants and to access tips to help you apply for grants, try CN’s Grant Finder or sign up for the Grants and Sponsorship Mailing List to be advised when new funding opportunities become available.

Heritage NSW has a Heritage Grants programme to assist owners and custodians with the conservation and activation of items of State and local significance and Aboriginal Places, and to support communities to identify, conserve and promote heritage. Contact NSW Heritage Grants Team on 02 9873 8577 or heritage.grants@environment.nsw.gov.au .

If you own a property which is an archaeological site or a site with Aboriginal objects, for further detailed information and advice visit our resources pages on Archaeology and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage.

The NSW Heritage Council, assisted by Heritage NSW, has responsibility for managing and regulating heritage items of State significance listed on the State Heritage Register, Aboriginal objects and Aboriginal Places, and archaeological sites and relics of State and local significance.

Contact Heritage NSW on 02 9873 8500 or at heritagemailbox@environment.nsw.gov.au for any enquiries regarding a State Heritage policy or proposed works potentially affecting such heritage places, items and objects.

For further assistance, please discuss your heritage enquiry or proposed works with City of Newcastle’s Duty Officer. This free advisory service is provided either over the phone or in person at City of Newcastle's Offices. We encourage you to make an appointment with the Duty Officer by phoning 02 4974 2000.