Independent Heritage Advice: an essential
Updated: Feb 9
The sourcing of sound, unvarnished, specialist heritage advice from heritage consultants in Sydney can be the difference between a stagnant development application and a positive heritage outcome.
We should be grateful for cultural heritage management laws and policies. They are hard-won and enable us to identify, conserve, and utilise Australia's significant cultural heritage assets, tapping into their innate sustainability, important stories, and socioeconomic benefits.
Cultural heritage regulations, particularly in the built environment, have evolved into potent planning and development forces within New South Wales. Today, if you seek permission for most type of changes in, or even near, a registered place of heritage value, then the relevant consent body will likely require you to address questions of impact diligently.
Achieving a timely and positive outcome—both in the sense of your brief and the heritage value of the affected place—requires good faith engagement with conservation principles, as expressed in The Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance, more popularly known as The Burra Charter (rev. 2013 ). Admittedly, what this means in practice is not always immediately apparent—especially within a field buffeted by diverse statutory approaches, site-specific decision-making, and fluid design/academic fashions. Not to mention the peculiarities of the historic environment itself. Fabric, integrity, intactness, condition, history, spatial and visual relationships, ongoing management, authenticity, community attachment ... are just some of the factors that can arise at places considered to embody heritage significance. All compel attention.
Thankfully, the field of heritage management has departed from the preservationist maxim of 19th-century French art historian Adolphe Napoleon Didron that 'in no case must anything be added and, above all, nothing should be removed'. The aim today is informed, managed change.
Realising this in the face of development pressures and contemporary expectations is not always easy. The heritage domain is rife with credible yet differing expert views and regulatory interpretations are common. While factual analysis is essential, issues are typically resolved on the basis of informed expert opinion.
How can we assist?
Touring the Past provides professional, value-add built heritage advice. Our approach begins with establishing the exact nature of the heritage significance under scrutiny and the manner in which such heritage value is transmitted at a place. This knowledge then provides a context in which to unpack the feasibility of your development aims.
In deconstructing the various constraints and opportunities that flow from an understanding of a site's heritage significance, we actively depart from simply regurgitating the 'dos and do nots' of pertinent heritage guidance (typically the local development control plan or a one-size-fits-all policy statement).
While these planning mechanisms are consequential—infallible, they are not. We are firm in our belief that decisions about a heritage place should be deeply rooted in understanding their distinct and precise heritage significance, rather than simple compliance with high-level policy. We believe solutions or mitigation strategies exist for most reasonable contemporary demands.
The heritage advice we provide is infused by a host of best-practice international and national instruments and guidelines, everyday examples of innovative development in the historic environment, broad experience, and the (albeit loose) heritage precedents and findings of the NSW Land and Environment Court.
When you engage and work with us, it is essential to comprehend that we will not play the role of unthinking advocate. The manner in which we can most effectively assist in heritage matters is the deliverance of third party, evidence-based assessment. We have an ethical obligation to frankly assess the predicated impact of new activities on a place's established heritage significance. To do otherwise, would be a dereliction of professional duty and a waste of your resources. The above, however, does not rule out a meaningful engagement with your aspirations and needs.
We are always happy to discuss your project, get in touch.