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The Southern Highlands has a rich history which began with the traditional owners of the land, the Gundungurra and D’harawal people, and later European settlers who first explored the area in 1798.


The region is today recognised for its impressive 19th and 20th century buildings and streetscapes as well as for its natural and farming landscapes. European settlement commenced in the area around 1820.

Heritage Items and Conservation AreasHeritage Studies and PlansHeritage Assistance Grants
Heritage and urban design awardsHeritage Quick LinksInterim Heritage Orders

Properties such as Throsby Park, Oldbury, Vine Lodge and Wingecarribbee have buildings dating back to the early to mid 19th Century which survive today.


The first settlement, Bong Bong settlement, located on the Moss Vale Road between Moss Vale and Burradoo adjoining the Wingecarribee River, is marked by an obelisk and sits within the greenbelt between Moss Vale and Burradoo as part of the Burradoo Landscape Conservation Area.


Berrima, the second settlement to be established in the district, dates back to the 1830s and survives today as the last remaining, largely intact, Georgian-period town on mainland Australia.


The 1860s saw rapid development through the advent of the Main Southern Railway Line. Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale grew quickly. A number of settlements across the Shire sprung up in the late 19th century and early 20th century including Bundanoon, Exeter and Burrawang. Joadja, located west of Mittagong, was a mining town of significance between the 1880s and 1920s. While significant parts of this State Heritage Listed and Nationally significant "ghost town" are still in existence, recent conservation work undertaken with the assistance of Council and a grant from the Federal Government has slowed and reversed the deterioration of its remaining buildings and structures.


The countryside has played an important part in the development of the area for farming as well as quarrying. Cooler climates, reliable rainfalls and good soils attracted many farmers who cleared a large part of the Shire’s remnant vegetation, resulting in today’s landscape mix of open paddocks and bushland areas.

Heritage Listings

Local government is the principal manager of heritage in NSW, mainly through local environmental plans (LEPs).


These plans contain schedules or lists of properties, buildings, places etc considered to be of local significance. The lists or schedules are statutory lists meaning that the provisions or clauses in the plan relating to these lists can be legally enforced.


The aim of having such lists is to ensure the conservation of buildings, places etc, which are considered to be significant to the local community, although the relative level of significance of each item may differ considerably.


The local heritage of the Wingecarribee Shire is managed through the Wingecarribee Local Environmental Plan (WLEP) 2010. Clause 5.10 contains the planning controls for heritage places and Schedule 5 lists the statutory heritage items in the Wingecarribee Shire. 

For more information about heritage items and heritage conservation areas visit the link below:

LinkHeritage Items and Conservation Areas

Confirming Heritage & Other Planning Information

A planning certificate under section 10.7 (previously section 149) of the Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979 should be obtained to confirm the planning details (including zoning and heritage) applying to your property.


A planning certificate will state whether your property is a heritage item or within a conservation area. There are two types of certificates: s.10.7(2) and s.10.7(2) & (5), the latter providing additional information. (Note that the 10.7(5) certificate does not provide additional heritage information.)


The form to apply for a planning certificate is available from Application Forms.

The Benefits of Owning a Property Listed as an Item of Environmental Heritage

The advantages of heritage listing a property are as follows:


  • It provides certainty for owners, neighbours and intending purchasers. This is important when people are looking for a particular environment in which to live and work. It explains why certain suburbs, towns, villages and rural properties are sought after as places in which to live and work. This is an important issue in Wingecarribee and many of our towns and villages contain heritage items and heritage conservation areas.
  • Protection of an item also requires Council to consider the effect of any proposed development in the area surrounding heritage items on that item.
  • It confirms a heritage status that many people are proud of and is useful for many commercial operators for use in advertising e.g. bed and breakfast places. Listing often provides information on the history and style of the item not known to the owner.
  • Through flexibility clauses (such as clause 5.10(10) of the Wingecarribee Local Environmental Plan 2010) owners of heritage items can apply for otherwise non-conforming or prohibited uses where conservation of the heritage item can be demonstrated.
  • It enables free access to Council’s heritage advisory service.
  • It enables potential savings through special heritage valuations. If a property is listed on Council’s Local Environmental Plan, a property owner can request a heritage valuation for land tax purposes through the Valuer General NSW. This can result in a reduction in land tax. It also means properties are given a discounted property value by the the Valuer General NSW for rating purposes, thereby reducing Council rates. For more information visit the website of the Valuer General NSW.
  • It enables priority access to heritage grants through both the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and from Council. Listing is a requirement for all OEH funding.
  • Real estate advertising suggests that heritage properties are considered a plus and that they command a premium price in many markets including the residential market, country towns, villages and farms.


Further information on what a heritage listing means to a property owner is available from the publication Heritage Listing Explained - what it means for you published by Heritage NSW.

Implications of Heritage Listing on Future Development

The following is a summary of the types of development affected by a heritage listing and the implications of such a listing:



All demolition for any building (whether heritage listed or not) requires the approval of Council.


There is nothing in the Local Environmental Plan which states that a heritage item can not be demolished. However, where, upon assessment, a building or structure is found to have significance, and does not have structural problems or any other cost associated with it which would make it unreasonable to retain, then under these circumstances, Council may refuse to grant approval for demolition of an item.


In some instances the retention of items may be potentially harmful to the community, or, would entail such an unreasonable cost that restoration or maintenance of the property or building is insupportable. Under these circumstances Council may consider approving demolition.


It may be the case though that it would be of value to the community to have some kind of record of the building or structure’s existence. It is for this reason that a listing in the Local Environmental Plan can be important, so as to prevent the loss of knowledge or history associated with the Shire. As a condition of approval for demolition, Council will usually require that photographs and details of the site, its operation, owners etc. be supplied to Council. In this way knowledge about a certain item can be retained without the need to retain the item itself.


Extensions & Alterations

Except for certain types of 'Exempt Development' (under State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008) alterations and additions to heritage items and within heritage conservation areas require consent.

One of the main considerations in assessing an application for an extension or alteration is to ensure that the significance of the building or property is not diminished by the proposed works. This can depend on a number of factors including:


  • Size and scale of the proposed extension;
  • Location of the extension;
  • Materials and finishes;
  • Style; and
  • Impact upon the streetscape; etc.


This does not mean that extensions have to replicate the style and proportions of the same era as the building. What it does mean is that any works should be compatible with the building and not detract from it nor diminish its significance.


Maintenance and Minor Works

Whilst you do not need to put in a development application for maintenance or minor works, you do need to inform Council in writing of what you intend to do and you must await a response from Council before work commences.  Maintenance is defined in the WLEP 2010 in relation to a heritage item, Aboriginal object or Aboriginal place of heritage significance, or a building, work, archaeological site, tree or place within a heritage conservation area, as "ongoing protective care, but does not include the removal or disturbance of existing fabric, alterations (such as carrying out extensions or additions) or the introduction of new materials or technology".  Repainting of existing painted surfaces can be included as maintenance and minor works can include minor repairs to building (for example, replacement of fascias, and can even include replacement of roofs) where like materials as the ones being replaced are used. Routine maintenance which does not involve a change to the building or site (such as lawn mowing, cleaning, inspection of gutters) does not require reference to Council nor development consent.


Where an item such as a garden has been listed, the ordinary day to day maintenance and replanting of garden beds would not require approval. The removal of significant mature trees, however, or changing the form of a garden designed in a certain style, would require consent.


Other than normal property maintenance, it is not expected that owners are required to take any special care of the property. Only properties listed on the State Heritage Register (as distinct from Council's Local Environmental Plan) are required to meet minimum standards of maintenance and repair. More information on State Heritage Register listings is available from the Heritage NSW website.

Further Information

Visit the other pages in this section for more information on heritage.

Link iconHeritage Items and Conservation Areas

Link iconHeritage Studies and Plans

Link iconHeritage Assistance Grants

linkHeritage & Urban Design Awards

Link iconHeritage Quick Links

linkInterim Heritage Orders

For more information on heritage matters, contact Council's Strategic Planning section on:

Telephone: 02 4868 0888 


Last Updated: August 31st, 2020
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