Types of development

If your property is entered in the Queensland Heritage Register you can still make changes to it, or develop it, as long as the work does not diminish the heritage values of the place.

Most changes proposed to heritage places are regarded as development and require approval before work is undertaken.

Different approvals are required depending on the type of work you want to do.

If your property is not entered in the Queensland Heritage Register but is a local heritage place listed on a local heritage register or identified in a local planning scheme, contact your local government to find out about development requirements.

Definition of development

For places entered in the Queensland Heritage Register, development refers to all types of work on a place including reconfiguring a lot, material change of use, operational work and building work. Building work includes types of work not normally thought of as development such as:

  • altering, repairing and removing:
    • significant artefacts (such as furniture, fittings)
    • building finishes (such as paint, wallpaper, plaster)
  • altering, repairing, maintaining or moving built, natural or landscape features of the place
  • excavating, filling, or other disturbances that damage, expose or move archaeological artefacts .

Why we regulate heritage development

Places in the Queensland Heritage Register have aesthetic, architectural, historical, scientific, social or other values that are important to the community. A place is added to the Queensland Heritage Register in order to protect its heritage significance. However, heritage places do not need to remain frozen in time, never to be altered. In fact the best way to protect a heritage place is to use it but in a way that does not degrade its heritage values.

Development proposals are assessed to ensure heritage places retain their significance while accommodating changing needs.

We periodically carry out reviews of places in the Queensland Heritage Register to identify essential repair and maintenance issues.

If a heritage place is at risk of suffering serious or irreparable damage or deterioration due to a lack of maintenance we may issue a Repair and Maintenance Notice. This notice requires the owner to undertake essential repair and maintenance work to protect the place from further deterioration or damage.

Reporting unauthorised work on a heritage place

If you suspect a place in the Queensland Heritage Register is being unlawfully altered, changed or damaged, you can report an issue or incident.

Archaeological discoveries during development works

If important artefacts are discovered during the course of work on any development site in Queensland you are required by law to report the discovery.

Before conducting development work in the Brisbane CBD, you should refer to the Brisbane CBD Archaeological Plan (PDF, 794KB).

The plan provides an ‘archaeological potential assessment ranking’ so you can identify if there may be important archaeological artefacts on your development site. You can then make a management plan to ensure the artefacts are not damaged or destroyed.

Read more about archaeological investigations.

Emergency work

If there is an emergency at a place on the Queensland Heritage Register that endangers the life or health of a person; or, the structural safety of a heritage building; or, the operation or safety of infrastructure (other than a building) you may carry out work to address the emergency without first obtaining development approval.

The Planning Act 2016 defines an emergency as an event or situation involving imminent and definite threat requiring immediate action (whether before, during or after an event or situation) other than routine maintenance due to wear and tear; for example, emergency work relating to natural disaster response and recovery. If safe to do so, photograph the heritage place and the area where work will occur prior to undertaking emergency work.

To carry out emergency work you must:

  • obtain the advice of a registered professional engineer before starting work, if it is practical to do so
  • take all reasonable steps to ensure the emergency work is reversible, or, if the emergency work is not reversible, take all reasonable steps to ensure the impact of the works on the cultural heritage significance of the place is minimised
  • give written notice to the department that you are carrying out the emergency work as soon as possible after starting work (notification via an email to palm@des.qld.gov.au identifying the heritage place affected)
  • make a development application as soon as reasonably practicable after starting the emergency work - if approval is subsequently refused emergency work must be removed and the premises restored to its earlier condition.

For further information call 13 QGOV (13 74 68) and ask to speak to a heritage development assessment officer.

Conservation advice

Keeping heritage places in active use and optimum operational condition is the best way to conserve them. Regular maintenance helps to prevent deterioration and avoid expensive repairs.

For information on conservation methods and techniques for heritage places refer to the Technical Note series or Owning a heritage place.