NSW Heritage Minister Robyn Parker has approved all local councils in New South Wales to make Interim Heritage Orders (IHOs), a function previously carried out by the minister.
“By granting heritage protection powers to all councils, local government can step in where a local heritage item is under threat,” Ms Parker said.
An IHO is a temporary heritage order placed upon a potential heritage site for the period of a year.
“An IHO should be considered only where the site has potential heritage value following a preliminary assessment by a heritage expert,” Ms Parker said.
The potential heritage site should be of local heritage significance, likely to be harmed or destroyed and where an existing Local Environment Plan (LEP) exists.
A Council then decides whether to list a site on the LEP depending on the results of a further assessment carried out by a person with appropriate heritage knowledge and skills, typically employed or retained by the council.
“An IHO is not intended to be a tool to block development in an area, but rather to enable sensible and locally relevant heritage decisions to be made,” Ms Parker said.
“Consequently, owners, business, councils and the community should work together to find viable adaptive reuse options for our heritage places.”
Councils now have greater authority in the assessment of potential heritage sites.
Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said the move streamlined the heritage listing process.
“If there is a building someone is concerned about, this now gives council the authority to go and do the investigation to see if there is a merit in its being heritage-listed. Beforehand it was quite a long and involved process.”
Ms Betts said the change would have no impact upon Council’s long-term heritage and lifestyle strategy, ‘Waverley Together’. She said it is standard process to periodically inspect all buildings in the area to analyse whether they should be heritage-listed.
‘Waverley Together’ was undertaken around 18 months ago and many more sites were listed on the LEP at the time.
Waverley Councillor Paula Masselos said she was concerned “whether this is a function that has been delegated from the minister to local council”.
“It’s good to know that you can go to a higher body such as the State’s Heritage Minister to have an Interim Heritage Order put on to protect a building,” she said.
Ms Parker said she as Minister for Heritage retains the power to make an IHO on the recommendation of the Heritage Council, in addition to the new powers extended to local government.