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Preparing a successful permit application

It is important that heritage consultants and permit applicants understand and address key elements of the Heritage Act in a permit application. Heritage Victoria has prepared some helpful guidance for consultants and permit applicants.

In determining whether to issue a permit for proposed works, Heritage Victoria must consider the matters set out at section 101(2), and may consider the matters set out at section 101(3) of the Heritage Act 2017.

Section 101 (2)(a) considers the extent to which the application, if approved, would affect the cultural heritage significance of the registered place or object. The Executive Director will consider whether the harm proposed in the application is appropriate.

Heritage consultants and permit applicants should draw on the Burra Charter and practice notes, and Heritage Victoria’s Guiding Principles to shape the principles for the project, before design commences. It is important to understand the significance of the place before making recommendations about any changes. There is further guidance on the assessment of this section in Heritage Victoria’s Heritage Impact Statement Guidelines.

Section 101(2)(b) considers the extent to which the application, if refused, would affect the reasonable or economic use of the registered place or object.

Reasonable use and economic use are two separate matters to be considered. To consider the reasonable use of a place, you should consider:

  • historic, recent and current uses
  • other compatible uses
  • context and setting
  • other relevant matters.

When considering economic use, the proposed works should help the place to be economically sustainable.

This should be a use that can continue for the medium to long-term, mitigating the possibility of continual changes. An economic use may generate the income necessary to cover the cost of conservation and maintenance.

Heritage consultants and permit applicants should be familiar with the Policy Guideline on Reasonable or Economic Use.

Section 101(2)(c) considers any submissions made by the responsible authority or the public. All permit applications are referred to the responsible authority (usually council) for comment.

If Heritage Victoria considers the proposal may harm the place, it will also be publicly advertised. At the close of advertising all public submissions will be sent to the applicant for comment if they wish. The applicant may choose to provide to Heritage Victoria a response to issues raised in the submissions.

Section 101(2)(d) considers the extent to which to application, if refused, would unreasonably detrimentally affect the ability of the public authority to perform a statutory duty specified in the application.

This section only applies if the applicant is a public authority. A public authority is defined in the Heritage Act 2017, and includes ‘any corporate body or unincorporated established by or under an Act for a public purpose, but does not include a municipal council’.

Public authorities generally include public entities, such as statutory authorities and state-owned corporations; and public service bodies such as portfolios, departments and administrative offices.

If the applicant is a public authority it is recommended the application includes an assessment of relevant statutory duties, being the laws that the organisation must obey, as they relate to the application.

Section 101(2)(e) considers the effect of a proposal on world heritage values, or any approved World Heritage Strategy Plan. This section only applies if the proposal is within a World Heritage Environs Area.

There are two world heritage sites in Victoria – the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, and Budj Bim Cultural Landscape.

World Heritage Environs Areas are identified in the Heritage Overlay of the local planning scheme. You can find these on VicPlan.

Section 101(2)(f) considers any matters relating to the protection and conservation of the registered place or object. The heritage consultant and permit applicant should set out in the application any matters that they consider to be relevant – this may include conservation, deferred maintenance issues, or protection requirements.

It may be helpful to refer to sections 152 and 153, and Heritage Victoria’s Minimum Standards of Maintenance and Repair when formulating a response to this section.

Under section 101(3) the Executive Director has the discretion to consider other matters, including impacts to adjacent heritage places, or any other relevant matter.

The heritage consultant and permit applicant should discuss the requirements of this section at the pre-application meeting to determine what material is required to support these sections of the application.

What to expect during the assessment of a permit application

If we need any extra information to assess your application, we’ll contact you. This might be an informal clarification or a formal ‘request for information’ via Heritage DESK.

A request for information will include a timeframe you must respond by. If you don’t meet this timeframe, your permit application will lapse. If you need extra time to provide a response, please contact us before the deadline with your proposed timeframe.

To avoid the request for information process during the assessment process, we recommend you engage with Heritage Victoria early in the design development via a pre-application meeting. Our officers can give guidance on the level of documentation required to accompany the application.

Timeframes for processing of an application

The processing time for a permit application is 60 days. The statutory clock will stop for advertising (14 days) and for any requests for information.

If required, Heritage Victoria may seek a further 60 days to determine the application.

Technical guidance

Heritage Victoria, the Heritage Council of Victoria and other entities publish technical heritage guidance.

Policy and guidance

Policy and guidance related to heritage places can be found on the resources and publications page.

Page last updated: 01/02/24