Heritage guidelines and overlays

The Heritage Overlay protects buildings and places with historical significance. If your property is within a Heritage Overlay, you might need a planning permit for certain building activities.

When you need a planning permit

If your property is in a Heritage Overlay, you need a planning permit to:

  • Demolish or remove a building, including part of a building, fences, walls, and out-buildings
  • Alter the exterior of a building, such as replacing or building new windows and doors
  • Install services including heating and cooling systems, and chimneys
  • Install a solar energy system attached to a building, if visible from a street
  • Construct a:
    • new building, such as a shed or garage
    • pergola or verandah
    • deck, if visible from a street
    • swimming pool, if visible from a street
    • vehicle crossover and driveway
  • Display a sign.

When you might not need a planning permit

Unless specified in the Heritage Overlay, a planning permit is generally not required for:

  • Internal alterations
  • External painting of a painted surface
  • Repairs or routine maintenance that do not change the appearance of the heritage place.

Find your property’s overlays.

Gradings of heritage buildings

Gradings show the heritage significance of a building. The higher the grading, the fewer changes you can make.

To find a building's grading, search the address on the Victorian Heritage Database

Significant

Includes A1, A2 and B graded buildings.

Buildings of national or state significance or extraordinarily high local significance. Either individually significant or part of a heritage precinct.

Buildings of high local significance, which are either:

  • individually significant 
  • gain their significance from their location in a largely intact heritage precinct of comparable buildings.

Substantially intact representatives of particular periods or styles, which are significant due to:

  • their location in a largely intact heritage precinct
  • would have been graded A1 or A2 if they had not been significantly altered.

Contributory

Includes C graded buildings

Buildings that exemplify particular architectural periods or styles in largely intact heritage precincts which have been substantially altered. These buildings are usually located in a heritage precinct, so any changes can still impact the precinct.

Non-contributory

Includes ungraded buildings

Buildings which contain no built form which contributes to the character or significance of a heritage precinct. Usually located in a heritage precinct, so any changes can still impact the precinct.

External alterations to non-contributory buildings qualify for a streamlined permit process called VicSmart.

Design guidelines for proposed works

Before applying for a planning permit, consider these important heritage design factors.

External alterations

External alterations may include replacing doors and windows, constructing a new verandah, or replacing roof materials.

When altering an existing heritage building, keep the following in mind:

  • avoid new building elements that are visible from the street
  • additions should conserve the appearance of the building from the street
  • new features should be readily identifiable as new works, while respecting the heritage building’s significance
  • use modern materials which are recognisable from the existing building materials.

Solar panels, satellite dishes, aerials, rainwater tanks, air conditioning units, hot water systems

Heritage places were not originally designed to include these services and equipment. Their size and location can impact heritage significance.

Services and equipment should be:

  • concealed behind the front of the building
  • positioned to not be visible from the street
  • integrated into the design of the building, including the roof form
  • installed in the preferred locations.

Garages, carports, sheds

New garages, carports, and sheds need to be designed to not detract from the heritage building. These new buildings should be:

  • concealed behind the front of the building, ideally at the side or the rear
  • set back from the existing heritage building
  • set back from side boundaries.
  • constructed using materials and colours which are complementary to the heritage building.

Locate garages at the rear. Their design should complement the existing heritage building.

Carports should be set back 3-4 metres from the front of the house and be a simple design.

Vehicle crossovers and driveways

When considering a new vehicle crossover or driveway, keep the following in mind:

  • avoid new crossovers where no crossover previously existed
  • avoid multiple crossovers to a single site
  • avoid widening crossovers to more than 3 metres
  • new driveways should be located at the side or from the rear where possible.

Works to existing crossovers should match the materials, such as bluestone pitchers or asphalt. Recycled materials are preferred to new materials.

You will also need a separate vehicle crossing permit. To find out more, visit vehicle crossing permit.

Gardens and landscaping

Heritage gardens and landscaping were generally designed to complement the building’s architectural design. Original landscaping was often designed by high profile landscape designers.

Any works to gardens and landscaping should:

  • retain trees listed as having tree controls in the Schedule to the Heritage Overlay
  • retain original or early landscaping elements, including trees and gardens which are significant or contributory to a heritage place
  • replace with like-for-like species and materials unless an alternative planting strategy or landscape plan has been approved by Council.

Swimming pools and spas

You won’t need a planning permit if the pool or spa (and associated equipment) isn’t visible from the street.

When planning to install a pool or spa, carefully consider the location to maintain important landscaping. You may need a planning permit or tree works permit to remove a significant tree.

You must register pools and spas with Council and have them inspected for safety. Find out more at swimming pools and spas.

For full details, download our Heritage Design Guidelines(PDF, 6MB).

Documents to prepare

When applying for a planning permit, you must supply the following documents.

General

  • A Copy of Title, including relevant lot plan and any restrictions listed on title. You can get a title from land data.
  • A written description of the proposal, including any impacts on the significance of the heritage place.
  • A photo of the subject site and area affected by the proposal.
  • If tree lopping is proposed, supply a written description of the reason for the lopping and an arborist report. You may also need a tree works permit if removing a ‘significant’ tree. To find out if your tree is significant, visit tree works permits.

Proposed plans and elevations

North orientation and at a scale of 1:100 or 1:200, including:

  • address of the property
  • the title boundaries and dimensions (this is on the copy of title on the relevant lot plan)
  • existing features of the site
  • the location, height and design of the proposed building or works including dimensions
  • details of the proposed materials, including a colour schedule and details of finishes.

Demolition plans and elevations (if demolition is needed)

North orientation and at a scale of 1:100 or 1:200, including:

  • address of the property
  • the title boundaries and dimensions (this information can be found on the copy of title on the relevant lot plan)
  • the location of all existing buildings and key features of the site including fences and trees.
  • clearly highlight any buildings (or part of buildings) or structures to be demolished.

Example plans

Example proposed plans

Example proposed elevation

Example heritage demolition plan

Apply now

Learn more about applying for a planning permit

How we assess heritage planning applications

We consider if your proposed changes will negatively affect the place’s heritage significance.

In doing so, we refer to:

  • the statement of significance (a report prepared by a heritage expert)
  • the relevant heritage policy
  • our Heritage Design Guidelines.

Learn more about how we assess planning applications.