The Heritage Council of Victoria is announcing the release of a new report examining local heritage protection across the State. 

The report details the findings from the Heritage Council review of heritage practices and management at the local level in Victoria. The Review commenced in 2018 and information was gathered via a survey of all 79 councils, as well as consultation with local and State government officers, heritage organisations and heritage consultants. 

It found that 96 per cent of local councils have conducted heritage studies to assess places of local significance and that Heritage Overlays in local planning schemes are recognised as providing sound protection for local heritage – they cover more than 186,000 properties in Victoria. 

The report also identified areas for improvement: almost three quarters of councils identified gaps in their heritage studiesa notable example being houses from the post-war era; and local heritage protection is not always a priority for councils – it is often seen as an ‘extra’ to the core components of planning. The latter means that heritage considerations are sometimes missed in forward planning exercises or rushed in at the end, which can lead to future problems when deciding on development proposals.  

A base-level of heritage protection is still to be achieved across the State: 4% of all councils are yet to complete a stage 2 heritage study; nearly 10% are yet to translate any studies into the Heritage Overlay; and nearly 20% identified geographic gaps in their studies. 

The review found councils don’t always understand their responsibilities for protection of locally significant places and that the implementation of protection can be prevented by vocal resident opposition and a lack of political will. The report identified an ongoing role for the State to provide leadership to better enable councils to understand and comply with their responsibilities to identify and protect local heritage, including the communication of best practice and the development of consistent guidelines.  

The report includes initiatives recommended to support and improve the protection and management of local heritage in Victoria.  

A full copy of the report is available here.