Land and Environment Court of NSW


Matters that involve heritage issues are often before the Land and Environment Court. In the Class 1 jurisdiction, the Court is regularly required to consider heritage issues in merits appeals.

These cases commonly relate to the grant or refusal of a development application to demolish, alter or develop a heritage item, a property in the vicinity of a heritage item or a property located within a heritage conservation area. These matters often raise questions regarding the heritage significance of an item or a conservation area and the Court must determine the impact a proposal will have on this significance.

Heritage issues also arise in civil and criminal enforcement proceedings before the Court. Individuals or a corporation may be prosecuted for a breach of the Heritage Act 1977Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 or the  National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. These statutes make it an offence to destroy, demolish, deface or move a heritage item, including an Aboriginal object or place, without obtaining a valid permit or consent as required by the relevant Act.

The Court may also be required to consider heritage issues in judicial review proceedings challenging the validity of a consent or permit to destroy or demolish a heritage item, or an Aboriginal object or place.

This page is intended to act as a guide to the Court’s approach to heritage issues, however it does not constitute legal advice or offer any guarantee as to how a particular dispute will be decided by the Court.

Other sources of information

This page provides links to the websites of various State and Commonwealth government departments that are responsible for administering the legislation. These websites provide additional information on heritage issues.


Office of Environment and Heritage, especially its Culture and Heritage page and a page dedicated to the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. The Department maintains two information databases to manage cultural heritage information:

Heritage branch:

  • maintains the NSW heritage database
  • provides specialist advice to the Minister, the Heritage Council and the wider community
  • State Heritage Register.


Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (Commonwealth), especially its Heritage page and the NSW Heritage List (World and National heritage places located in NSW)


International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS):

World Heritage Convention:

Other organisations

Last updated:

08 May 2023

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