The heritage overlay raises many questions about planning permit requirements, demolition applications, significance, is heritage old or new, the degree of intactness, impact on property values, ability to build units or subdivide, precincts versus individual listing, restoration and renovation, internal alterations. This page answers these and other common questions about the heritage overlay.

Common Questions about the heritage overlay and heritage precincts:

If a Heritage Overlay is applied to my property am I expected to restore my building to its original condition?

The Heritage Overlay cannot force an owner to restore or maintain their property. Council offers an incentive for restoration works.

If a Heritage Overlay is applied to my property, does this mean that I can not demolish my building?

The Heritage Overlay does not mean that a property cannot be demolished. It does require a demolition request to go through a permit process to assess the contribution of the building to the significance of an area and whether the demolition would adversely affect the significance of the place. The citation sheet or statement of significance for the place will explain why the place is important. The heritage adviser  or a town planner can discuss the significance of the property with you.

What does a heritage overlay mean?

A heritage overlay is the mechanism to trigger a planning permit requirement for actions that may impact on the heritage significance of a place such as demolition or alteration of a building. How Do You Read a Heritage Overlay Planning Control? (PDF - 107KB) outlines how to access the documents that explain what is significant and what actions require a planning permit. Council's heritage adviser or statutory planners can help you with this process.

If I am in a heritage overlay can I alter my property?

Many changes in the heritage overlay can be done without a permit. Permits can be applied for to alter a heritage property. The appropriateness of the changes will then be assessed. A heritage control does not mean no changes can occur.

Is a planning permit required for repairs and maintenance?

A planning permit is not required under the Heritage Overlay to carry out routine maintenance and repairs which do not change the appearance of the heritage place. If the repairs or maintenance involve replacing "like with like", then a planning permit may not be required. Discuss your intentions with Council's Heritage adviser who often may be able to assist in identifying the most cost effective solution which will protect heritage values.

Why does Council have a heritage control?

Heritage controls allow the conservation of areas of historical, architectural or cultural significance for the broader community and future generations. Under the Planning and Environment Act Council's planning scheme must implement the objectives of planning in Victoria which include, at section 4 (1) (d) "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".

Will I be able to subdivide my property for dual occupancy if I am located within a heritage precinct?

Yes, as long as normal planning requirements are met and the character of the heritage precinct is not adversely affected by the development.

What if my house is too expensive to restore and I want to replace it with a new building ? Will I be prevented from doing so under the heritage controls?

If Council receives an application for the demolition of a property in a heritage precinct, Council will consider the impact on the surrounding neighbourhood of both the removal of the house and the proposed replacement building/s. Proposed developments that are not in keeping with the precinct's character are unlikely to be approved.

How will heritage controls affect the value of my property?

Council undertook a valuation study that showed that inclusion in the heritage overlay did not have a negative impact on property values. This is in line with other studies undertaken which show that heritage precinct areas may increase property values as it gives a greater degree of certainty about what type of development may be expected in an area.

Why a heritage precinct?

Ballarat's Heritage overlay includes 25 precinct areas which formed part of the C58 (19 precincts) and C107 (6 precincts) amendments. A precinct is an area which is significant for the type of development that has occurred there. These precincts have an incorporated document which makes some changes to reduce the number of approvals required in the standard heritage overlay applying in Victoria.

Heritage Precincts - What does this mean?

A heritage precinct is an area listed within the Heritage Overlay to the Ballarat Planning Scheme. Council is required to identify and protect places of heritage value under the Planning and Environment Act. The method of identifying a heritage place is to undertake a heritage study utilising the principles of the Burra Charter - a document utilised throughout Australia. What makes the place or area 'special' is called 'significance'. The Australian Heritage Commission criteria are generally used to describe and categorise significance. Most precinct areas in Ballarat are assessed under historical, aesthetic, architectural or scientific criteria. Amendment C58 and C107 are based on a studies which utilised the accepted methodology and recommended the heritage overlay be applied.

Which precincts have an incorporated plan?

The Heritage Overlay is a standard control applied across Victoria. To vary the control to reduce the number of developments that would require a planning permit council prepares an Incorporated Plan. The following Ballarat Heritage Precincts have an incorporated document

What is an incorporated plan?

The incorporated plan is a tool that Council uses to state what types of development in the Heritage Overlay will not require a planning permit. For example the statewide control states that a planning permit is required to demolish a building in the heritage overlay. The incorporated plan allows buildings listed as 'non significant' to be demolished without a planning permit but a new structure would require a planning permit to ensure that the new building did not detract from the character of the area - which is outlined in the statement of significance for each precinct.

The incorporated plan also removed the need to gain a planning permit for:

  • Removal, lopping pruning of a tree (does not apply to specific trees identified at 29 places listed in the document)
  • Alterations, additions and new building on 'Not Significant' places at specific locations shown in a diagram in the document
  • New Outbuildings (carports/garages/sheds) at 'Significant' Places (setback detached and eave height specified)
  • Minor Development to 'Significant' Places (pergola, verandah, deck, water tank and associated structures, domestic plant and services beneath eave height.

If the conditions specified in the incorporated plan cannot be met that does not mean the development cannot occur - it would require a planning permit which would assess the impact of the proposal on the precinct. In Ballarat Heritage Precincts HO163 to HO179 and HO187 to HO192 have an incorporated document (see above).

Can I renovate / modernize my house?

Only 16 local heritage properties in Ballarat have internal controls. For all other properties a planning permit is not required for internal alterations. External alterations generally require a planning permit.

The Heritage Adviser can assist you in identifying options that will minimize impact on the significance of the property.

Can I change the exterior of my house?

Exterior alterations will generally require a planning permit (rear of non significant buildings excepted in accordance with the incorporated plan). The statement of significance for your precinct will tell you what is 'special' in the area. It might be the chimney, the pattern brick, the verandahs or the double hung windows. Council provides a free Heritage Advisory Service to assist you in identifying options for change.

Can I extend my house?

A heritage overlay does not prohibit extensions to a dwelling. The incorporated plan demonstrates locations where an extension to a non significant dwelling will not need a permit. Permit applications for extensions will be considered in relation to the acceptable level of impact on the area. Seeking early advice from the heritage adviser will assist you in designing an extension so that planning permission is likely to be granted.

My house isn't old or big? Why is it important?

Heritage can apply to new or modest places. A heritage place tells you the story of a place and its development. Modest houses that demonstrate a change in ideals can be important. Often it is the grouping that tells the story - why did this style occur. The precinct nature gives a unique character to an area. The history and statement of significance for each precinct explains the elements that make those areas special.

Change has occurred in the precinct - I don't believe the area is 'intact'

Change does occur and will continue to occur. The heritage overlay aims to define the elements of an area that makes it special or distinctive and seeks to minimise the change to those elements.  In Ballarat some precincts demonstrate a range of styles - the era of development varies. This is important to understanding the time scale of development - why did this variation occur and what does it tell you about the cycles of development in Ballarat.

Why doesn't Council list individual buildings?

The heritage overlay includes precincts and individual buildings. A precinct is an accepted approach especially where a distinctive character is present and where inappropriate development on sites in between 'significant' sites will detract from the area as a whole. Valuation studies have been undertaken nationally, and in Ballarat the results show that heritage precincts are more likely to increase property values as it denotes a rarity or scarcity value.

Why should I bear the cost for the community benefit of heritage?

The heritage overlay does not create 'costs'. Buildings require maintenance whether they are listed in a heritage overlay or not. Heritage is one element of a range of controls required to be applied to govern the use and development of land. Valuations studies undertaken in across Australia, including Ballarat demonstrate that a heritage precinct is likely to have a positive benefit on property value.

Will I be able to sell my house?

The heritage overlay does not stop you from selling a property. Ballarat has had heritage precincts over large areas and this has not impacted on the saleability of houses.

What assistance is available?

Council offers a free heritage advisory service. It also operates a low interest loan scheme. Being in a heritage overlay also provides the ability to apply to state or national heritage funding programs.