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Frequently asked questions

  1. What is a heritage place?
  2. Is my property listed?
  3. My place is in a State heritage area - what does this mean?
  4. How are places nominated for the South Australian Heritage Register?
  5. Can I nominate a tree?
  6. I have discovered an object that might be of heritage value. What should I do?
  7. It's not old, so how can it be heritage-listed?
  8. Does an owner have any say in the listing process?
  9. My property is a State heritage place that is designated. What does this mean?
  10. Can a property be taken off the Register?
  11. Can I make changes to my place?
  12. Is demolition permitted?
  13. Are there penalties for carrying out work without approval, or demolishing a State heritage place without approval?
  14. What will happen with my development application?
  15. Will heritage-listing be a hurdle for my project?
  16. Where will I find a contractor with the right skills to fix my heritage place, and will it cost a lot more?
  17. Are there traditional trades training courses in SA?
  18. Will the property's value be affected if it is listed?
  19. Will insurance premiums be affected?
  20. Am I required to carry out special maintenance?
  21. Are there any grants available for conservation work?
  22. Is it necessary to employ qualified professionals or tradespeople to carry out building work?
  23. Who should I contact in the case of accidental damage, such as fire, flood or earthquake damage?
  24. Where can I get advice?

What is a heritage place?

A heritage place is a special place for many reasons. A heritage place can be inspiring and intriguing and discovering the history of a place, especially if you are connected to it, will enrich your life. It’s not just ‘old’ buildings that are heritage-listed, a place may be of value for reasons of history, social and cultural importance, design merit or rarity. Age does not matter, it actually has to be a place that we want to keep because it tells our story and displays our uniqueness. And as our story evolves, and the world changes and progresses, we often like to update our heritage place’s amenities or surrounds. This is possible, Heritage South Australia can work with you to achieve this in the most economic but heritage-sensitive ways. We want heritage places to be used into the future. If they are occupied and used they will be maintained and passed onto future generations to enjoy. You will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about heritage here.

Is my property listed?

Places that have been confirmed or interim listed in any National, State or Local heritage lists are included in the South Australian Heritage Register. To check if your place is listed, search the online databases or contact the Register Clerk in Heritage South Australia on (08) 8124 4960 or email DEWHeritage@sa.gov.au

My place is in a State heritage area - what does this mean?

Legally, every place in a State heritage area is treated as a State heritage place. More information about State heritage areas.

How are places nominated for the South Australian Heritage Register?

Anyone can nominate a place for entry as a place of State significance in the South Australian Heritage Register. More information about nominating a place to the Register.

Can I nominate a tree?

Is it significant or is it heritage? There are about ten trees in the State’s heritage register, all listed for historical associations. Significant trees are different. They are managed under separate legislation and are regulated and protected for their size, nativity or location, not for heritage purposes. You can contact the local council for information on significant trees.

We do have many parks and gardens and places within parks that are State heritage-listed, mostly for natural qualities, landscapes, historical associations or species rarity. View the list here.

I have found an object that might be of heritage value. What should I do?

Please let Heritage South Australia know as soon as you can on (08) 8124 4960. The object may be of State significance if it is related to a State heritage place or State heritage area in the South Australian Heritage Register, and should be assessed. An object of heritage significance can be entered in the Register and protected under the Heritage Places Act 1993. For example… the Burra Jinker is an object related to Burra Mines Historic Site as it has significant associations with the early development and operations of the Burra Copper Mines.

It's not old, so how can it be heritage-listed?

Some have questioned the heritage-listing of places such as the Adelaide Festival Centre or the Bicentennial Conservatory in Adelaide Botanic Garden because they are not old stone buildings of classical architectural styles. We assess heritage value based upon the seven criteria of section 16 the Heritage Places Act 1993.

A place may be of heritage significance for reasons of history and evolution, it may have rare or endangered qualities, it may contribute to understanding history and natural history, it may demonstrate a high degree of creative, aesthetic or technical construction or design styles, it may have strong cultural or spiritual associations to a community or group within it, it may be associated with the life or work of a person or organisation of historical importance, or it may be a place containing artefacts of historical importance.

Does an owner have any say in the listing process?

An owner is always advised regarding a proposed heritage listing before the listing process commences. More information about entering a state heritage place in the South Australian Heritage Register (84kb pdf).

My property is a State heritage place that is 'designated'. What does this mean?

A designated State heritage place is very special and unique site. A place is designated if it has features of archaeological, geological, palaeontological and/or speleological significance. For example…Naracoorte Caves Complex is designated as a place of geological, palaeontological and speleological significance as it is one of our most important cave complexes that contains megafauna fossils and spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.

Under Part 5 of the Heritage Places Act 1993, special protection applies to State Heritage Places designated as places of archaeological, geological, palaeontological or speleological significance. A person must not, without a permit from the South Australian Heritage Council, excavate or disturb a State Heritage Place designated as a place of archaeological, geological, palaeontological or speleological significance or remove, damage, destroy or dispose of any archaeological, geological, palaeontological or speleological specimens from such a place.

More information about permits http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/about-us/boards-and-committees/SA_Heritage_Council/Permits

or contact the South Australian Heritage Council’s Permit Officer on (08) 8124 4956.

Can a property be taken off the Register?

Section 23 of the Heritage Places Act 1993 (the Act) states that:

If the [South Australian Heritage] Council is of the opinion that an entry relating to a place in the Register as a State Heritage Place is no longer justified, or that an entry relating to a State Heritage Place should be altered by excluding part of the place to which the entry applies, it may give notice of its intention to alter the Register by removing or altering the entry…

A view or opinion that a Place no longer meets the standards for State heritage-listing does not necessarily bring the provisions under Section 23 of the Act into consideration.  Such a listing in the Register may become ‘no longer justified’ only where new information has come to light since the listing, or some event has taken place, that makes it ‘no longer justified’.

Examples of such circumstances are:

Example 1.       a Place, at the time of its heritage listing, is thought to have a special association with a person’s life and it is later discovered not to have that association;

or

Example 2.       a Place suffers extensive damage which destroys its heritage significance. 

Both these examples may lead the Council to determine that the entry in the Register is ‘no longer justified’.  It is important to note in these examples that only a change in the facts that are the basis of the heritage-listing of the Place warrants the Council to consider it for removal.

Legal advice is clear that section 23 of the Act does not give the Council (or any other party) power to remove a place from entry in the Register on the basis that, at a later date, someone forms a view that it should not have been included or continue to be included in the Register.

Can I make changes to my place?

Yes, heritage places can be altered or developed, but it is first necessary to obtain development approval. The Development Act 1993 requires that any 'development' be approved by the relevant planning authority (usually the local council).

For a State heritage place or a place within a State heritage area the definition of ‘development’ is expanded to include “demolition, removal, conversion, alteration or painting of, or addition to, the place, or any other work that could materially affect the heritage value of the place” (eg non-structural alterations, painting and other conservation work such as re-roofing or salt damp repair etc).

Please use this checklist (43kb pdf) to assist you with the development approval process.

Is demolition permitted?

Not normally. If demolition is thought to be necessary, a development application would need to be lodged with the local council explaining the reasons in detail.

Are there penalties for carrying out work without approval, or demolishing a state heritage place without approval?

Demolition or other unapproved development, damaging or reducing the heritage value of a State heritage place, are serious offences. Penalties are provided for in both the Development Act 1993 and the Heritage Places Act 1993.

What will happen with my development application?

The Development Act 1993 requires all development applications affecting State heritage places and State heritage areas to be referred to the Minister responsible for the Heritage Places Act 1993 for advice on potential impact of development on heritage significance of a place.

The department's conservation architects advise the Minister, and in some instances, act as the Minister's delegate regarding commenting on and approving applications for development of State heritage places. 

Will heritage listing be a hurdle for my project?

We are here to help and we don’t bite. If we are involved and informed from day 1 of a project, we can add value, provide early advice, help you to avoid unnecessary delays with approval and be part of the team. Early engagement means a quicker referral response time as part of Development Act requirements. We have lots of experience working with owners and heritage professionals as part of the development approval process. We also work with agencies such as ODASA, Renewal SA, DPTI, DAC and in design review panels as part of planning approval processes. For more information contact our conservation team on (08) 8124 4922 or email DEW.StateHeritageDA@sa.gov.au

Where will I find a contractor with the right skills to fix my heritage place, and will it cost more?

Repairs to heritage places can be more expensive because repairs are often labour intensive. But look at it as an employment opportunity rather than a quick fix. A little regular maintenance is more cost effective and will keep heritage places intact and avoid the major costs associated with flood, white ant or rising damp damage. We do recommend that you get advice from an experienced heritage professional or Heritage South Australia before starting any work.

Are there traditional trades training courses in South Australia?

Traditional trades training is on the increase in South Australia.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) in conjunction with Heritage Stone Restorations have been providing specialised training to tradespeople and professionals for many years. The department has been an active part of CITB courses in Inneston and Bimbowrie where vital conservation work was undertaken on heritage accommodation.

The new Australian Artisan Trades Academy is a unique collaboration between Applied Building Conservation Training and the National Trust of South Australia providing the first heritage skills training academy in Australia.

Artlab Australia conservators have worked on the preservation of monuments and statues such as the Statue of Hercules in Pennington Gardens and John McDouall Stuart Monument in Victoria Square.

Will the property's value be affected if it is listed?

This may be the case when an old building is being used for a purpose well below the most commercially valuable use permitted by the zoning (eg, a cottage in a commercial zone on a major road). However, a house in a residential zone should not suffer any loss in value. It may even experience a rise because of the certainty of knowing its heritage character is protected.

Will insurance premiums be affected?

Heritage status, on its own, should have no effect on insurance premiums. Insurance cover should reflect the age, construction and condition of the building, regardless of heritage listing. Please see our fact sheet for more information.

Am I required to carry out special maintenance?

The Heritage Places Act 1993 requires people to take 'reasonable care' of a State heritage place. As with any property, it is in the owner's interest to carry out ongoing maintenance and repair work to protect the value of the property and avoid expensive remedial work.

Are there any grants available for conservation work?

To be advised.

Is it necessary to employ qualified professionals or tradespeople to carry out building work?

There is no legal requirement to do so. However, it makes sense to use experienced professionals and tradespeople when undertaking conservation work. This will protect the heritage significance of the building and help to safeguard the property as a financial investment. Heritage South Australia or a local heritage adviser can often refer owners to skilled tradespeople.

Who should I contact in the case of accidental damage, such as fire, flood or earthquake damage?

Contact Heritage South Australia and your local council as soon as possible. If a building is not structurally sound or secure, the owner will be given immediate approval for stabilisation and repair.

Where can I get advice?

If you are considering conservation works or development that affects a State heritage place or property within a State heritage area, advice from an experienced heritage consultant is recommended. Heritage South Australia also produces publications containing practical conservation advice on issues such as painting, rising damp, cleaning stone masonry and creating a maintenance check list.

Heritage South Australia's conservation team can be contacted on (08) 8124 4922 or DEW.StateHeritageDA@sa.gov.au

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