Conserving, interpreting and celebrating Greater Sydney’s heritage values leads to a better understanding of history and respect for the experiences of diverse communities. Heritage identification, management and interpretation are required so that heritage places and stories can be experienced by current and future generations.
Environmental heritage is protected for its social, aesthetic, economic, historic and environmental values. Environmental heritage is defined as the places, buildings, works, relics, moveable objects and precincts of State or local heritage significance18. It includes natural and built heritage, Aboriginal places and objects, and cultural heritage such as stories, traditions and events inherited from the past.
While the strongest protection for heritage is its value to the community, it is also protected under the Heritage Act 1977, National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and local environmental plans. The statutory framework requires identification of the values of environmental heritage, and context specific design and development that conserves heritage significance. This includes the tangible and intangible values that make places special to past, present and future generations.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage is developing a new legal framework to improve the protection, management and celebration of Aboriginal cultural heritage that will include an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act.
Areas of natural heritage are found in wilderness areas and managed landscapes across Greater Sydney. These are often sites of important biodiversity and cultural value and many are significant to Aboriginal people.
Sympathetic built form controls and adaptive reuse of heritage are important ways to manage the conservation of heritage significance. Respectfully combining history and heritage with modern design achieves an urban environment that demonstrates shared values and contributes to a sense of place and identity. This is particularly important for transitional areas and places experiencing significant urban renewal, where it is necessary to take account of the cumulative impacts of development on heritage values.
Improved public access and connection to heritage through innovative interpretation is also required. A well-connected city (refer to Objective 14), creating great places (Objective 12) and developing the Greater Sydney Green Grid (Objective 32) will improve the connectivity and accessibility of the region’s heritage.
Understanding the significance and community values of heritage early in the planning process provides the greatest opportunity for conservation and management. This provides an opportunity to address cumulative impacts on heritage using a strategic approach. Protection and management of heritage is a community responsibility undertaken by a broad range of stakeholders including Aboriginal people, State and local governments, businesses and communities.