Developing a property which has a heritage overlay

A heritage overlay on a property means you must get a planning permit for all external changes, including front fences and sometimes for painting, internal alterations and removing or pruning trees.

You need a planning permit for whole or partial demolition of any building or structure, including fences, sheds, garages out buildings.

The Moreland Planning Scheme Online lists all individually listed heritage sites and all properties in a heritage precinct overlay.

Guidelines for heritage areas

Council has guidelines to assist in altering or changing houses in heritage areas:

State Government website has information about heritage places and what heritage listing means for landowners.

How to apply for a planning permit in a heritage overlay

Contact Council to find out about the type and extent of heritage controls on a property. Council may talk to you about other planning issues too.

Arrange a pre-application meeting with an Urban Planner and Heritage Advisor from Council. More than one meeting may be needed. 

When your application is ready, you can submit a planning permit application to Council.

Obtaining more information about a heritage-listed property

If your property is located within a heritage overlay and you would like more information about the significance of the property, see the Victorian Heritage Database.

The Victorian Heritage Database, managed by Heritage Victoria, is an online database containing information about Victorian Heritage Places and Precincts including statements of significance, physical descriptions, historical information, builder, architectural style, photographs, and heritage overlay number. 

How heritage places are selected

What is a heritage place?

In August 1979, the Burra Charter was adopted by the Australian National Committee of International Committee of Monuments and Sites. This charter provides guidance for the identification, conservation and management of places with cultural heritage significance.

A heritage place can be a site, area, land, landscape, building(s) or other work, memorials, trees, gardens, parks, places of historical events, urban areas, towns, industrial places, archaeological sites and spiritual and religious places. Cultural heritage significance means a place with aesthetic, historic, scientific, social or spiritual value for past, present or future generations.

Council has a strong commitment to protect and enhance the rich historical fabric of the City which forms an important part of the identity of Merri-bek.

Identifying heritage places in Merri-bek

All municipalities contain heritage places. Local councils have a role to play in identifying and protecting places of heritage significance.

Most local heritage places are identified through a municipal heritage study, carried out by an experienced heritage consultant. 

During the initial stages of the study, the community and local historical societies are encouraged to nominate sites and places of potential heritage significance. A nominated place then undergoes a heritage assessment to determine if it is of local or State significance and therefore warrants statutory heritage protection. 

Heritage assessments are carried out by qualified and experienced professionals in accordance with the principles of the Burra Charter. Assessment reports (citations) include a statement of significance that identifies the what, how and why of heritage protection.

Sometimes new heritage sites are identified in Merri-bek. After public consultation, the Moreland Planning Scheme may be amended to include and protect new heritage sites. Contact Council to suggest a new heritage place: ask for the Strategic Planning Unit.

Protection of heritage places

Local heritage places are protected in the Merri-bek Planning Scheme through heritage overlays, which require a planning permit to alter a heritage place.

A heritage overlay conserves and enhances heritage. An overlay shows how your land can be used and developed. All heritage overlays are recorded in the Merri-bek Planning Scheme. Importantly, the heritage overlay does not preclude development; it simply makes sure that any new works do not adversely affect the heritage significance of the place. Heritage sites are protected in one of two ways:

Heritage overlays applied to an individual site, building or object

Individual heritage overlays can have controls that require you to get a planning permit to make changes inside a building, paint a building and to remove, destroy, prune or lop a tree on the site. A place with its own heritage overlay is an important heritage site. Examples in Merri-bek are the Pentridge Prison Complex, Wiseman House, Glenroy, and Hoffman’s Brick and Pottery Works, Brunswick.

Heritage overlay applied to a broader precinct area

Most heritage sites do not have their own individual heritage overlay. Instead they are identified and protected within a heritage overlay control that applies over a wider precinct area that may include all the houses in a street or group of streets.

A heritage precinct overlay can also include places with no heritage value. These places have a heritage overlay so that new development does not have a negative impact on the heritage significance of the whole area. Examples of some heritage precincts in Merri-bek are Barkly Street, Brunswick East, Newlands Estate Precinct, Coburg, and Turner Street Precinct, Pascoe Vale.

Moreland heritage studies

Council's heritage studies record the heritage significance of the heritage precincts as well as individual places. You can also ask to see Council's heritage studies at the Moreland Civic Centre

City of Moreland studies

Former City of Coburg studies

Former City of Brunswick studies

Other resources


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