Cultural and Heritage Advice

The heritage of Shellharbour City is as diverse as its people. With an extraordinarily rich Aboriginal history of thousands of years and a more recent history that includes early settlers, farmers, fishermen and quarrying, Shellharbour has evolved to be the vibrant multi-cultural city it is today. Numerous studies have been undertaken to help us understand what is important about our area. As a result of these studies, we have a list of places with statutory heritage protection. We also have special policy and controls for development to protect both our Aboriginal heritage and our European heritage.  

For Aboriginal Heritage special guidelines can be found in the Aboriginal Heritage Toolkit.

Policies for both Aboriginal and European heritage can be found in Shellharbour Development Control Plan.  

Heritage (Non-Indigenous)

Heritage items can include buildings or any parts of a building, farmyard structures, trees, views, streetscape, archaeological sites, monuments, conservation areas, bridges, shipwrecks or industrial buildings, or cultural landscapes which may encompass a collection of these things.

Find out if your property is listed as a heritage item.

Find out why properties are on the heritage list by searching the NSW Heritage database. 

Historical information is available in the thematic history prepared as part of the 2005 community-based heritage study. Or visit the Museum for more information about local history.

Frequently Asked Questions

Researching your property

1.    Look at the heritage data sheet if your property is a heritage item.
2.    Familiarise yourself with the history of your area by reading the thematic history.
3.    Visit Shellharbour City Museum.
4.    Browse Shellharbour City Museum’s online database ‘Discover Shellharbour’ to view photos, maps, documents, objects and Council archives. 
5.    Search Illawarra Images.
6.    Obtain the title deed for your property.
7.    Look at maps and plans of the area.
8.    Review local Council records.
9.    Search old newspapers on the TROVE database.
10.  Enlist the help of a qualified Heritage consultant here if additional information is required.

Can I get insurance for my heritage listed house?

Whether or not a property is heritage listed, insurance companies will want to know the age of the building and if it is well maintained, whether the plumbing and electrical wiring meet modern standards and for what purpose the building used and whether is it regularly occupied. These questions are the same for all properties. 

Can I get a heritage grant?

Currently there are no local heritage grants available from Shellharbour City Council.

Does heritage listing mean I can’t do anything to my house?

Heritage buildings are best cared for when they are lived in and loved. Houses often need new bathrooms, kitchens and new rooms to accommodate growing family needs. Council recognises the need for owners to adapt houses to a modern level of comfort. Properties are heritage listed because they are historically or socially important, or they may be a good example of an architectural style. Shellharbour Council officers can provide free advice on approval pathways if you are planning alterations.

Can I do minor work without approval?

If you plan to do some building works or maintenance to a listed heritage property, you are required to lodge a Development Application (DA). However, clause 5.10(3) of Shellharbour Local Environmental Plan 2013 permits some minor works to be undertaken without consent, providing you have written confirmation from Council. Minor works generally include repairs and maintenance or replacement of building elements on a "like for like" basis, that would not impact the heritage value of the property. 

Fill out and submit the form Exempt from the Need for Consent for Minor Works to a Heritage Item to Council, accompanied by details of the proposal, plans, product brochures, colour samples or photos. There is no fee for lodging this form. For more information, see Do I need a Development Application.

Do I need a Heritage Management Document?

Council cannot grant consent to a Development Application involving a heritage item, or most development in a conservation area, without considering how the development would impact on the heritage significance of the item or of the conservation area. A Heritage Management Document, also known as a Statement of Heritage Impact report, is therefore required with most development applications. For more information about what is required in a Statement of Heritage Impact see guideline document here.

Will heritage listing lower the value of my property?

Property values are determined by many things, such as access to schools, transport, shops, the amenity of the neighbourhood, the condition of the property. Well maintained heritage houses are generally attractive because of their charm and character.

Can I sell my heritage listed house?

Yes, you can. A heritage listing places no legal restriction on the sale or leasing of properties.

Can I demolish a Heritage Item?

A request for demolition of a heritage item or a property within a conservation area is to be submitted with: 
•    A heritage impact statement with a detailed analysis of the cultural heritage significance of the item, and/or its contribution to a conservation area; and 
•    A report from a structural engineer specialising in work on heritage items detailing the structural condition of the item (if you are proposing that it is beyond repair); and 
•    Evidence from a structural engineer specialising in work on heritage items that stabilisation and/or the retention of the building is unreasonable; and 
•    A building inspection report detailing the condition of the building carried out by a licenced building inspector.
•    An assessment showing that adaptive reuse of the building is not feasible.

For more information about what is required in a Conservation Management Plan or Strategy, see guideline document here.

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Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

We value and respect our local Aboriginal culture and heritage and support all efforts to ensure it is considered in all land use planning.
Last updated : Mon 20 Nov 2023