Case study: Navigating council and heritage issues in Norwood

Updated: Jul 22, 2019

It seemed like a typical knock down and rebuild project, but with it came some Council complexities.


Adelaide Build Assist was engaged for a project to knock-down a house in Norwood, South Australia, and build a new, modern home.

Complexities arose because the neighbouring property was heritage listed, making the approval process with the local council much more difficult.

Our client’s need

Adelaide’s historic suburbs such as Norwood, North Adelaide and Unley are sought after not just because of their location, but because of the historic housing stock and heritage aesthetic of the area.

While that makes these locations desirable, it can also create serious hurdles for anyone wanting to develop in these suburbs.

Our client wanted to knock down a house and build a new one in Norwood. While their property wasn’t heritage listed, the one next door was. What many people don’t realise is that the limitations on heritage listed properties can extend to neighbouring properties as well.

The challenge

At ABA we know that undertaking extensive research and discovering what the requirements and expectations of particular councils are prior to submitting plans is extremely important.

In this case, we ensured the proposal was in line with the council zoning for the area and the requirements of the council’s development plan.

This not only helped avoid delays, but also gave the client confidence that their project was achievable before money was spent on detailed architectural plans.

In heritage matters, councils also use an external heritage advisor, who provides an opinion on what impact a development will have on adjacent buildings. Understanding the priorities of these advisors early in the process, and proceeding accordingly, also saves the client time and money.

We were able to put forward a case for our client that the project would not detrimentally affect the heritage of the area..

After working through the council process, more difficulties arose during surveying when we identified a significant encroachment from the neighbouring home which had to be factored into the project design.

While this was far from ideal, designers were able to work around the problem with minimal impact to the client, because the issue was picked up early in the process.

In the end plans were lodged that had already been considered and produced in accordance with advice from the stakeholders, saving time and money by limiting the 'back and forth' process that plagues many projects.

After planning consent was granted we were then able to proceed with the building development approval and tender process, ensuring the client got the best possible price for the construction of their new home.

The key learnings

By engaging with all stakeholders early, including council planners, neighbours, heritage advisors and architects, approvals can be secured more quickly. Importantly, understanding what is and isn’t possible early in the process also means the client doesn’t waste money on architectural plans that then need to be completely re-designed.

At ABA, people come to us all the time with detailed plans that cost up to tens of thousands of dollars, but then can’t be implemented because of council requirements or budget. By using a building advisor and tackling steps in the correct order, significant savings can be made – in money and time.

When multiple stakeholders and pressures are at play, an experienced building advisor can help chart a course forward that satisfies the requirements of all parties and delivers the best outcome for the client.

Check out the pics below.

How can we help?

Need help bringing your dream home or investment project into reality? ABA will help you through the process from start to finish, saving you time and money while giving you peace of mind.

Contact us for a no obligations discussion about your project.