A guide to heritage impact statements

A Heritage Impact Statement (HIS) is a document that sets out the impact that a development will have on the heritage values of an item, place or conservation area. It states:

  • why the item or area is of heritage significance
  • what impact the proposed works will have on the item or area’s heritage significance
  • what measures are proposed to mitigate negative impacts
  • why more sympathetic solutions are not viable.

When is a HIS required?

Council may require a HIS when assessing the extent to which a proposed development would affect the heritage significance of a heritage item or conservation area. Typically a HIS will be required for a development that:

  • alters a heritage listed item
  • is on the same site/allotment as a heritage listed item
  • is within the curtilage of a listed item
  • is within a conservation area
  • is on land in the vicinity of a listed item or a conservation area. In some instances Council may require a HIS where a development could affect a potential heritage item or in the vicinity of a heritage item. Council staff can advise if a heritage impact statement should be submitted as part of the Development Application.

Who can prepare a HIS?

The author of a HIS should have a level of expertise appropriate to the significance of the site and the impact of the proposal.

In situations where the impact is minimal it may be appropriate for the HIS to be prepared by the owner or designer of the development. Where there is some degree of impact or where the significance of the place is particularly high, it is usually best if the HIS is prepared by someone with an understanding of heritage and planning.

What should a HIS contain?

a HIS should contain:

  • the location of the heritage item
  • the location of the development proposal
  • the nature of the development
  • the heritage significance of the item
  • the way in which the development will impact on the heritage significance of the item
  • the measures that have been taken to reduce the adverse impact on the item
  • the alternatives that have been considered and why have they not been adopted
  • a summary Heritage Impact Statement.

The HIS can draw on the Statement of Significance prepared as part of the place’s heritage listing although in many instances and for complex sites this may need to be expanded. It is often beneficial to discuss the proposed work with Council’s Heritage Adviser prior to detailed design.

Written advice from the Heritage Adviser may be included in the HIS. Where there is likely to be a significant adverse impact, such as substantial demolition, specialist building reports should also be attached.

Example of a suitable draft format

This example demonstrates an acceptable format for the heritage impact statement. You can use another format, especially if it presents a clearer picture of the impact.

1. Title and date

Include here the name of the proposal and when it was prepared.

For example: Alterations and additions to Clemenger’s Cottage, May 2014.

2. Authorship

Provide the name of the report’s author and their heritage expertise.

3. The location of the development proposal

Provide the street address, Lot and DP number and property name if relevant.

4. The location of the heritage item

Where the proposed development is separate from the listed item, or on another allotment, provide sufficient information to clearly identify the affected heritage item or items.

For example: No XX Corkhill Drive, within the Tilba Conservation Area and adjacent to listed item YYY.

5. The nature of the development

Describe the proposed development.

For example: alterations and additions to the side and rear of the existing dwelling.

Include plans, elevations and photographs as necessary to clearly illustrate the proposal and its context. Depending on the setting it may be useful to include an image of the streetscape or landscape with an indication of the scale and bulk of the proposed development.

6. The heritage significance of the item

The list of heritage items and conservation areas is included in Schedule 5 of the Eurobodalla Local Environmental Plan 2012.

  • The Local Environment Plan also includes maps of the Eurobodalla shire, showing the boundaries of all heritage items and conservation areas.
  • for each listed place there is a citation or brief report that describes the heritage item, its history and significance.
  • you can also download copies from NSW Heritage.

If a statement of significance is quite basic it may not be sufficient to guide impacts associated with building and development work. In these instances it may be appropriate for the report to analyse the heritage significance of the place in greater detail. This could include further historical research, more detailed investigation and description of the site, more thorough examination of building fabric etc.

7. The development’s impact on the heritage item’s significance

Based on an understanding of the significance identified above, note the various ways in which the proposal could have an impact.

For example: impact on significant form, fabric, detail, proportions, landscape, setting, streetscape, views etc.

8. Measures taken to reduce adverse impacts

Demonstrate how each of the impacts has been addressed so that the proposal is sympathetic to the place’s heritage value.

For example:

  • the works will adopt the same wall material, window proportions, roof pitch and material as the existing;
  • the works have been confined to the rear of the property and will not impact on the streetscape;
  • the new work while modern in expression is designed as a separate but sympathetic pavilion that is linked back to the original, clearly articulating the new from the old; or
  • the building has been carefully sited in the landscape to reduce its visual impact, etc. Note any recommendations from the heritage adviser and if these have been incorporated into the proposal. Also refer to any relevant clauses in development control plans and or conservation plans and note how they have been addressed.

9. Alternatives considered and why they have not been adopted

For proposals that might have a significant adverse impact on an item’s heritage values, the applicant should provide evidence demonstrating why a more sympathetic solution is not appropriate.

10. Summary Statement of Heritage Impact

The report should conclude with a summary paragraph drawing on the material above.

For example:

Clemenger’s Cottage is a good example of an Inter-war bungalow and makes an important contribution to the streetscape. Much of the building is in original condition but in need of an upgrade to meet current standards and expectations. The proposed extension of the building to the rear will follow existing details and has been designed in a manner that is sympathetic to the original. The existing decayed garage is beyond repair and will be demolished and replaced with a larger garage that will adopt similar form and details to the main dwelling. Given its rear location it will have minimal impact on the streetscape. The work is consistent with the relevant clauses in the DCP and addresses comments provided by Council’s Heritage Adviser prior to submission of this Development Application.