Heritage studies

Heritage studies

Industry and architecture

As Australia’s oldest city, the NSW state capital and a global city, city of Sydney has many layers of history and culture from all periods of Australia’s history, embodied in Sydney’s surviving historic buildings and landscapes. These buildings and landscapes from our distant and recent past not only tell Sydney’s and Australia’s story, they contribute to Sydney’s identity, character, livability, building diversity, cultural life, its economy and the environment.

To ensure Sydney’s rich and diverse heritage is appropriately managed for the benefit of current and future generations, the City is undertaking 2 studies of under-recognised types of heritage across the local area: industrial heritage and modern architecture.

Industrial Sydney: Industrial and warehouse buildings heritage study

As one of Australia’s former industrial heartlands, the City's local area retains the largest concentration of historic industrial and warehouse buildings in NSW.

Completed in October 2014, the industrial and warehouse buildings heritage study is believed to be the first of its kind for NSW and the second of its kind for Australia.

The study investigated the history and significance of Sydney’s industrial development and the surviving examples of industrial and warehouse buildings. Out of the many unlisted industrial buildings surveyed across two-thirds of the local area, the study recommended listing 63 sites and 2 conservation areas containing industrial or warehouse buildings. These buildings record important periods of Sydney’s and Australia’s industrialisation, which transformed Sydney into one of the largest industrialised cities in the South Pacific.

After consulting with the community on the proposed listings in 2015, Council approved the listing of 57 heritage items and 2 conservation areas on Sydney's local plan. These listings will protect and encourage the adaptive re-use of more than 100 industrial and warehouse buildings in the local area. You can download the heritage study inventories.

Modern Sydney: Modern movement architecture heritage study

Central Sydney’s 20th century development after World War II through to 1975 was an exciting and challenging era that determined much of the physical form of today's central business district and resulted in outstanding architectural and civic accomplishments.

Building on the Heritage Council’s state-wide history of modern architecture in NSW from 2013, the City of Sydney is preparing a heritage study to investigate the heritage value of central Sydney’s modern architecture. This will assess the historical and global context for the development of 'modern movement' architecture in central Sydney and the different styles and types of post-war and modern architecture built in Sydney from 1945 to 1975. The aim is to improve our understanding and assessment of the heritage significance of the collection of modern architecture found in central Sydney.

Heritage inventories review

To improve public access to information about Sydney's listed heritage places, the City is continually enhancing its online heritage inventories for places listed in the local area. These inventories showcase the City’s collection of heritage places on the NSW online heritage database. Information in these inventories provides a starting point to help owners and the community to identify, understand and conserve listed heritage places.

Inventories typically provide a summary of the heritage value, history, characteristics, location and photos of listed places. As inventory standards have changed over time, we are developing a strategy to target the improvement of inventories without all this information. We are also progressively updating our heritage inventories as new information is gathered on listed places through heritage studies, site assessments and other sources. 

As non-statutory information, inventories do not define what is listed or the effects of listing. Listing and its effects are instead defined by local plans with legal status known as the Sydney Local Environmental Plan and Sydney Development Control Plan.

You can search for the inventories for Sydney's listed places on the NSW online heritage database. 


For further information about these studies or the database review, please contact:

Claudine Loffi
Senior Specialist Planner (Heritage)
02 9246 7683

Last updated: Monday, 16 January 2017