Heritage Conservation

This information is of a general nature and should not be used to meet the legal requirements of a Development Application.



Heritage Conservation in Camden LGA

What is heritage and why is it important to the Camden Local Government Area?

Camden's heritage is made up of a combination of significant places, buildings, works, relics, moveable objects and precincts. It comprises Aboriginal items and places; and non-indigenous items and their settings.

Heritage is something that we have inherited from the past. It informs us of our history as well as giving us a sense of cultural value and identity. Heritage places are those that we wish to protect and pass on to future generations so that they too can understand the value and significance of past generations.

Heritage makes up an important part of the character of the Camden Local Government Area (LGA) and is held in high esteem by the Camden community. The high quality of heritage in Camden sets it apart from other towns and may be a draw card to visitors (and investment). Places that are identified as heritage places are good examples of a period in time or a type of architecture, which are rare in the LGA. Our heritage is therefore valuable and must be cared for and protected.

What is a Heritage Conservation Area (HCA)?

A HCA is an area where the historical town layout and relationships between the built, landscaping and streetscape elements creates a sense of place that is special.

While individual buildings within the HCA may not all have sufficient significance to be listed as heritage items, collectively they have a value worth retaining. It is possible for buildings that do not contribute to the HCA to be redeveloped or modified with a better infill design at a later time.

Two HCAs are identified in LEP 2010. One is focused on the Camden Town (Camden HCA as indicated in figure B4 of the DCP) and the other on Struggletown HCA, in Narellan (figure B6 of the DCP).

It is possible that other HCAs may be identified in the future as being of heritage significance.

Camden Heritage Conservation Area

Camden HCA has heritage significance for the following reasons:

  • Camden Township retains evidence of its growth and development from a private town in 1841 to the present day. Many buildings and landscape features contribute to the character. It is held in high esteem by the public and heritage professionals.
  • The town is characterised by its small scale, being enclosed on 3 sides by the rural floodplain. The town rises to the ridge along Menangle Road and is dominated by St John's Church and spire on the highest point. The intactness of the original form of the town in its setting is rare and significant.
  • It contains a large number of intact buildings dating from 1841 to the mid-twentieth century; important public open spaces of the showground and Macarthur Park; exotic and native plantings. These all contribute in a major way to the character of the Town.
  • Whilst some buildings within the town do not have heritage value, there is potential to improve these in the future. Development and growth may still occur but this must respect the important character of the township.
  • The town of Camden is unusual as it was not designed by the government, but by the Macarthur family as a private town.
  • Camden has had a mixed population descending from Dharawal and other indigenous communities, convicts, migrants assisted by the Macarthur family; gentry, small scale farmers, traders and retailers and small scale industrialists. Despite changes over time, many families have existed in the area for many generations.
  • View Street, on the entrance to the Camden town, is an important street which demonstrates the early development of residential housing in Camden. The original cottages are small, single storey, on narrow lots located close to the street and each other, with small front gardens and picket fences. A regular character is provided by the scale and spacing. The cottages have simple hipped or gabled roof forms of either corrugated metal or tiles. In View Street, development incentives are provided in the DCP to encourage the retention and conservation of the original cottages. These include reduced open space and parking requirements for new developments at the rear of these cottages.

For more information on Heritage places in Camden, see the Camden Heritage Walk brochure.

Struggletown Heritage Conservation Area

The Struggletown HCA consists of the remnants of the original 19th century subdivision and cottages along Sharman Close. This area is prominently located at the junction of Camden Valley Way and the Northern Road. It contains some remnant early housing which is one of the last remaining intact groups of housing of Narellan.

While individual buildings that make up the HCA do not all contribute to the significance, it is possible for these to be redeveloped or modified with a better infill design at a later time. Development and growth may still occur but this must respect the important character of the township.

What are the meaning of terms used in this document?


Throughout this document, various terms are used which have the following meaning:

  • heritage place is a term referring to all heritage and can include buildings, works, places, heritage conservation areas, relics, trees, archaeological sites, landscapes, views between heritage items, Aboriginal items and places.
  • Heritage fabric - refers to all parts of the building that makes up the significance of a heritage place such as walls, details, decoration, fences, gardens etc.
  • Cultural landscape - The Camden LGA contains a mixture of natural and man-made landscapes which are significant to the character of the area. Significant visual landscapes, views and vistas are identified in Tables B5 and Figures B8 and B9 of the Camden DCP 2011. It is possible that other views and vistas may be identified in the future as being of heritage significance.
  • Infill development - is new work within or adjoining a heritage place
  • LGA - means local government area, which is all the area under the jurisdiction of Camden Council.
  • In the vicinity - means proposed development on a lot near a heritage place, which may have impact on the heritage place.
  • Heritage significance - is sometimes also referred to as cultural significance and has the same meaning.
  • LEP - stands for Camden Local Environmental Plan 2010.
  • DA - stands for Development Application.
  • DCP - stands for Camden Development Control Plan 2011.
  • HCA - stands for Heritage Conservation Area.
  • SEPP - stands for State Environmental Planning Policy.  They Sydney Region Growth Centres SEPP is the planning legislation applicable to the suburbs of Leppington, North Leppington, Catherine Park, Oran Park and Gregory Hills.  

What is the significance of St Thomas Chapel, Narellan?

Located on the corner of Camden Valley Way, Richardson Rd and Wilson Crescent, Narellan are a group of civic buildings surviving from the original Narellan township. These include St Thomas Chapel, the "School-Church", the cemetery and Narellan Hotel. The School-Church is a significant rare example of a rural colonial church, whilst the cemetery is one of the earliest in the district. The location of St Thomas Chapel and the School-Church on a hill surrounded by open space is significant.

Whilst modern development has occurred around these buildings, the views between these buildings are important and can still be appreciated. These views are illustrated in Figure B7 of Chapter B3: Environmental Heritage of the DCP.

For more information on heritage places in Narellan, see the brochure Heritage Walking Tour of Narellan.

How is heritage determined?

Heritage significance does not just apply to grand or old properties. There are seven established criteria against which heritage significance is determined. These include historic, historic association, aesthetic, social, scientific, rarity and representativeness. These are adopted by the NSW Heritage Branch of the Office of Environment and Heritage and are fully explained in the following documents:

Camden LGA's heritage has been identified in various comprehensive heritage studies over the years with input from the Camden community.

What are the levels of heritage significance?

Heritage is listed at the following levels:

  • Local significance - means that it is listed in Schedule 5 of Camden LEP 2010 and that it is significant to the people of Camden LGA
  • State significance - means that it is on the State Heritage Register and is significant to the people of NSW
  • National significance - means that it is on the National Heritage list and that it is significant to the people of Australia
  • Commonwealth significance - are items of various levels of significance that are owned by the Commonwealth of Australia and are on the Commonwealth Heritage list.
  • World significance - means that it is on the World Heritage list and that it is significant to the people of the World.

An item can be significant at one or more levels. There are also various non-statutory heritage registers such as the Register of National Trust.

There are no current National or World Heritage items in Camden LGA. Camden has approximately 136 local heritage items plus 2 HCAs of local significance. There are 12 State listed items including important colonial homesteads (e.g. Denbigh homestead and Harrington Park House). Camden Post Office is on the Commonwealth Heritage Register.

The distinction between levels is not in rank, it is in context. Local items are of relevance locally and valued locally. They are identified and under the guardianship of Camden Council. State items are of relevance and value to the people of NSW. They are under the guardianship of both Council and the Heritage Branch of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

How do I find out if a property is heritage listed?

A property is a heritage item if it is:


A property is within the HCA if it is shown within the Conservation Area - General area on the following maps

What is a potential heritage item?

Properties containing potential heritage items are listed in Tables B4, B5 and B6 and Figures B8 and B9 of Camden DCP 2011.

These items have been flagged as potential heritage items. Further investigation of the heritage significance of these items is required to be carried out on each place when a development application is lodged to determine if the place is of heritage significance.

What does heritage listing mean?

Heritage listing of a property provides formal recognition by Camden Council and/or the State Government that the property has heritage significance and that the community wants it protected for future generations.

It is important to understand that heritage listing does not prevent future changes. Changes and additions that respect and retain the qualities and characteristics that make the heritage place special are encouraged.

More Information

View the Heritage Listing Explained information booklet from the Heritage Council of NSW outlining what heritage listing means to you, the benefits and effects, fact verses myth and how to make sympathetic changes.

What are the regulations or legislations which apply to my heritage property?

All Councils within NSW have a responsibility under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and Heritage Act to protect heritage places through their identification, planning and controls. Camden Council does this in:

  • Clause 5.10 of Camden LEP 2010 which sets out objectives and controls to conserve the heritage significance of heritage places. The impact of new development on the heritage significance must be considered. Schedule 5 of the LEP lists the heritage items and maps the HCAs.
  • Clause 5.10 of State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Region Growth Centres) sets out objectives and controls which can be found as set out below:

Owners of heritage listed properties are required to seek development approval from Camden Council if they wish to make changes which may affect the heritage significance of the place.

Chapter B3: Environmental Heritage of Camden DCP 2011 provides guidelines for appropriate work at heritage places.

The Growth Centres DCPs can be viewed at: http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Plans-for-your-area/Priority-Growth-Areas-and-Precincts/South-West-Priority-Growth-Area

The Camden DCP 2011 can also be viewed online.

What is of heritage significance within a heritage place?

Local heritage listing applies to the whole property. It does not just apply to the front or exterior of the building.

To determine what is of heritage significance on a property, the history of the property and its fabric must be understood. This is best carried out by a heritage consultant who has qualifications and experience in working with heritage buildings. What is of significance must be determined for each property and may include :

  • significant fabric both externally and internally;
  • public view points of the property;
  • The layering of fabric over time, not just original fabric; and
  • Associated structures such as outbuildings, fences, driveways, tree plantings, wells etc.

Understanding significance is the first step in which will guide what new work or changes are appropriate. A heritage consultant can advise on what is of heritage significance on the property and advise on what works are appropriate. Download a list of consultants and practitioners.

More Information

The criteria for assessing heritage significance are fully explained in Assessing Heritage Significance produced by the NSW Heritage Office. 

Are there guidelines for conservation and appropriate new development?

The aim for new development, changes or additions to heritage places is to respect and retain the qualities and characteristics that make the heritage place special.

The following documents can be used as a guide to appropriate conservation works and appropriate new development:

The NSW Heritage Council can provide guidance on how to provide access, modern services and fire upgrades in an appropriate way to significant heritage buildings. More information can be found in the attached brochure.

What are appropriate new materials?

Patch repairing old materials on heritage places is preferable to replacing with new materials. Replacing materials will lose the aged character, which often adds to the significance.

The following are common questions about replacing old material with modern material on heritage places.

As a general guide:

  • Colourbond is not appropriate for roofs or walls on old buildings in heritage places. Short sheet galvanized steel is more appropriate for roofs. This can be painted or will dull with age.
  • Colourbond is not appropriate for fences. Timber paling fences are more appropriate for side and rear fences.
  • Timber windows should not be replaced with aluminum.

Old buildings usually have windows that are of different proportions to modern windows. The windows are usually taller than they are wide; and windows with these proportions should be used.

Can a heritage place be demolished?

In the majority of cases, a heritage place cannot be demolished as this is contrary to the reason for heritage listing, which is to ensure the place is retained for future generations.

Should a heritage place be threatened, Council may apply for an Interim Heritage Order to protect the place under the Heritage Act 1977 (NSW). Court Orders and penalties for breaches can be applied under Part 7 of the Heritage Act.

However, there may be some less significant or even intrusive elements that may be demolished. Development Consent must be obtained and you are encouraged to discuss this at an early stage with Council's Heritage Officer on ph. 4654 7777 or email. 

What works require development consent?

Council requires a Development Application (DA) for the following work to a heritage place to assess its impact on the heritage significance:

  • Demolishing or moving a heritage place
  • Altering the exterior of a heritage place (including making changes to a building's detail, fabric, finish or appearance)
  • Making structural changes to the interior of a building that forms part of a heritage item
  • Disturbing or damaging a known or suspected archaeological site
  • Disturbing or excavating a known Aboriginal place
  • Erecting a building on land which is a heritage place
  • Subdividing land on which is a heritage place.
  • Anything that is defined as development in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

More Information:

See Clause 5.10(2) of Camden LEP 2010.

What is the applicability of the Codes SEPP to heritage listed properties?

The NSW Housing Code within the State Environmental Planning Policy - Except and Complying Development Codes(2008) and the  Infrastructure State Environmental Planning Policy (2007) set out certain minor work that can be carried out to Heritage Items and within HCAs without development consent. Full details are provided in the legislation and must be complied with fully.

More Information:

When is Development Consent not required?

A Development Application and a Heritage Management Document  may not be required at Council's discretion if the proposed work to a heritage place:

  • Is minor in nature or
  • Is for the maintenance of the heritage place and
  • Would not adversely affect the heritage significance of the heritage place.

Council offers a free heritage advisory service to achieve good heritage outcomes for work to heritage places. To take advantage of this incentive you must:

  • Provide details of the work in writing to Council's Heritage Officer for advice
  • Be willing to explore options/alternatives
  • Provide technical information, brochures, photos etc to explain your proposal to assist staff to determine the effect on the heritage significance of the heritage place.
  • Accept that while every effort will be made for a quick response the advice is provided at no cost to the applicant and is subject to the time frame of staff.

Council will respond to the applicant in writing if the work can commence without a DA and any conditions that are required.

Please contact Council's Heritage Officer on 02 4654 7777 or mail@camden.nsw.gov.au for more information.

More Information

Examples of minor work may include colour schemes, and like for like repairs.

What is Maintenance

Under LEP 2010 maintenance means 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.

As a guide, what is considered minor or maintenance can be obtained from NSW Heritage Office's document

For more information see 5.10(3) of the Camden LEP 2010.

Best Maintenance Practices 

Owners have a responsibility to undertake basic measures such as inspecting a heritage place regularly and securing and protecting it against weather, fire and vandalism, so that it will not further deteriorate.

To clean heritage buildings, low water pressure and a brush is recommended. If required, only mild detergent should be used.  Harsh chemicals and abrasion must be avoided.

The following documents come from the NSW Heritage website. This websites also other useful heritage information:

Other Documents

Twelve Tips on Caring For Old Buildings.


A good starting point to determine appropriate colour schemes for heritage buildings is in the books Old Australian Houses or More Colour Schemes for Old Australian Houses by Ian Evans.

What are the procedures for work to heritage items on the State Heritage Register?

Proposed work to heritage items of state significance that are on the State Heritage Register  requires consent concurrently from both the NSW Heritage Branch of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and Camden Council. The DA is termed Nominated Integrated Development and requires the following:

  • A cheque made out to - NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Locked Bag 5020 Parramatta NSW 2150
  • A processing fee to Council. Contact Council's customer service on ph 4654 7777 for the relevant fees.

Some minor work is exempted from requiring consent from the NSW Heritage Branch of OEH.

What information should be provided with my Development Application?

A development application for a heritage place should include the following information:

  • A Heritage Management Document (see below)
  • A Schedule of Conservation Works detailing all works required internally and externally to the heritage place to conserve its heritage significance. This is required for any development of land containing a heritage place to satisfy the objectives of conserving heritage in Camden LEP 2010.
  • An external colour scheme and advertising sign scheme for the building (where relevant).

The meaning of terms:

A heritage management document means:

  • A heritage conservation management plan, or
  • A heritage impact statement, or
  • Any other document that provides guidelines for the ongoing management and conservation of a heritage place; that assesses the impact of the proposed development on the heritage place; or the impact of development in the vicinity of a heritage item or HCA on the heritage significance of the heritage place.

In the vicinity means:

  • A proposed development on a lot near a heritage place, which may impact on the heritage significance of the heritage place.

A Heritage Conservation Management Plan means:

  • A document that provides a clear statement of the significance of the item, and identifies the constraints and opportunities that affect the item. It identifies what can be changed and the parameters for the change. It sets out conservation policies and management strategies to enable the significance to be retained.

A Conservation Management Plan is generally required with a DA for items listed in the State Heritage Register. It may also be required for any major development or subdivision proposals to local heritage items, or where requested by Council.

See an explanation of what information is provided in a CMP

The Conservation Plan (2000, Fifth Edition) by James Semple Kerr, is a guide to the preparation of conservation plans for places of European cultural significance. Hard copies are available through the National Trust on phone 02 9258 0123 or via email info@nationaltrust.com.au

A heritage impact statement means a document consisting of:

(a)  A statement demonstrating the heritage significance of the heritage place and its setting, and

(b)  An assessment of the impact that proposed development will have on that significance, and

(c)  Description of measures to minimise that impact.

A Heritage Impact Statement (HIS) is expected to be provided with all DAs. The complexity of the HIS depends upon the nature of the work proposed. Download A guide to writing a HIS.

For more information of these terms see the Dictionary in Camden LEP 2010.

Why should I use a heritage professional to write a HIS or CMP when I carry out heritage work?

It makes good sense that a Heritage Impact Statement and Conservation Management Plan is prepared by a qualified and experienced Heritage Consultant. Using a heritage consultant will generally assist Council in assessing a DA and speed up the processing time.

Tradespersons experienced in heritage conservation work should also be used to carry out heritage work.

View a list of consultants and practitioners.

What is the Heritage Incentive clause 5.10(10) of the Local Environmental Plan (LEP)?

To ensure the conservation of Camden's heritage, a special incentive is provided in the LEP. For Heritage items listed in Schedule 5 of the LEP or identified Aboriginal places (on the AHIMs register); alternative land uses, that may not be permissible in the zone, are possible with development consent. This can be used provided that the heritage item is conserved.

To use this clause, a DA and HIS must be lodged and council must be satisfied that:

  • The conservation of the heritage item or Aboriginal place is facilitated by the development, and this must be clearly demonstrated in the HIS
  • The proposed development is in accordance with a heritage management document that has been approved by Council, and
  • All necessary conservation work identified in the heritage management document will be carried out, and
  • The proposed development would not adversely affect the heritage significance of the heritage item or Aboriginal item, including its setting, and
  • The proposed development would not have any significant adverse effect on the amenity of the surrounding area.

It is stressed that the intent of this incentive clause is for conservation and not just development alone.

For more information see:

Is there funding available for heritage work?

Council does not have the resources to provide funding at this stage.

Applications for funding are available on an annual basis from the Heritage Branch of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. These are for heritage items on State Heritage Register and for Aboriginal heritage investigations.

For more information on funding visit the OEH Heritage Branch website.

What if a property is not listed as a heritage place?

Heritage is not static. New items and architectural styles emerge as having significance as time passes. If a place is not listed as a heritage place or potential heritage item, and it appears to have some heritage value, the impact on heritage significance can still be considered by Council when assessing a development application under Section 79c of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

How are new heritage nominations made?

New heritage nominations must fulfill one of the seven criteria established by the NSW Heritage Branch. This requires extensive research of the history and assessment of significance. It involves community consultation on what new places should be listed. New heritage places cannot be listed in a piecemeal method.  But are considered as a community based comprehensive heritage study.

As Council becomes aware of new potential items, a list is kept for consideration at the next comprehensive heritage study review. Please contact Council's Heritage Officer on ph. 4654 7777 to add items to this list for future consideration.

What is European Archaeology?

Any site may contain significant archaeological relics related to the European settlement of the Camden LGA. An archaeological site may be a known (refer to Table B6 Of DCP 2011) or a site that is discovered as part of site investigations or development.

Where a development proposes disturbance to an archaeological site or relic, the applicant must contact the Heritage Branch, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage for compliance with the statutory requirements.

NSW Heritage Branch 
Office of Environment and Heritage
Level 6, 10 Valentine Avenue
Parramatta NSW 2150
P: 02 9873 8500
E: heritage@heritage.nsw.gov.au 
W: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/Heritage/aboutheritage/historicalarch.htm

If you think that you have found an archaeological relic or site, contact the historical archaeologist at the Heritage Branch on (02) 9873 8500.

What is of Aboriginal Heritage significance in the Camden area?

Aboriginal people are the cultural owners of information relating to their heritage. It is vital to Aboriginal people and to the richness of Camden's heritage that these important spiritual and cultural links to land are maintained by preserving and protecting places of cultural significance.

Camden Council is committed to and required by law to preserve and minimise harm to items and sites of Aboriginal heritage significance.

The principal legislation relating to Aboriginal Heritage within NSW are the following:

  • Environmental Protection and Assessment Act
  • The National Parks and Wildlife Act
  • The Heritage Act.

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) administer a register of Aboriginal Items called the Aboriginal Heritage Inventory Management System (AHIMS). This is not a comprehensive list of Aboriginal Items but is a starting point for investigation.

An Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP) is required from OEH for any activity likely to have an impact on Aboriginal objects and places before work takes place. This includes known Aboriginal items identified in Table B7 of the DCP, identified on the AHIMS register, or an Aboriginal item discovered as part of site investigations or development.

An AHIP is not required in any of the following cases:

  • Where the development is an exempt activity (as defined under the National Parks and Wildlife Amendment Act).
  • Where the development is a low impact activity (as defined under the National Parks and Wildlife Amendment Act).
  • Where the "Code of Practice for Archaeological Investigation" or other industry specific code of practice is strictly adhered to.
  • Where an assessment has been made using the "Due Diligence Code of Practice for the Protection of Aboriginal Objects in NSW".

The Due Diligence assessment can be done by anyone and includes all of the following steps as a minimum:-

  • Search the Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System (AHIMS).
  • Check the site for landscape features which may indicate the presence of Aboriginal objects e.g. waterways, ridge tops, rock shelters, cliff faces, sand dunes etc.
  • Develop strategies to avoid harming Aboriginal objects.

Further Information

Who may be able to provide historical information?

Organisations and contacts which may be useful for historical research include:

More Information

Guides to undertaking historical research can be found at:

Who are the Government agencies responsible for heritage?

For Local and State items in Camden LGA:

Heritage Officer
Camden Council
70 Central Avenue, Oran Park 2570
P: 02 4654 7777
E: mail to:mail@camden.nsw.gov.au

For State items in Camden LGA:

NSW Heritage Branch 
Office of Environment and Heritage
3 Marist Place 
Parramatta NSW 2150
P: 02 9873 8500E: heritage@heritage.nsw.gov.au
W: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/Heritage/heritagesites.htm

For Federal, Commonwealth and World heritage Items:

Department of the Environment & Energy
GPO Box 787 
Canberra ACT 2601
P: 02 6274 1111 
W: www.environment.gov.au/

For Aboriginal heritage items:

Office of Environment and Heritage
P: 131555 
E: info@environment.nsw.gov.au
W: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/nswcultureheritage/