Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Visual Impact?

What kinds of emotional responses cause people to experience impacts?

When do I need a Visual Impact Assessment?

What kinds of changes can produce visual impacts?

Why are visual impacts important to consider?

What is a Heritage Assessment

When do I need a Statement of Heritage Impact?

What is a Statement of Heritage Impact?


 A visual impact is caused when something in the environment is changed in a way that produces a negative or a positive emotional response in people seeing it.  It is different from a simple change.  For example the visibility, size or colour of an item is not an impact unless people react to it or unless it does not comply with agreed visual quality standards.

 People may like the change, may not like it, or may not understand it.  The change may affect the views that they can experience or change the way they understand and interact with the environment.

Whenever you, or someone proposing a development that can affect you, require a Development Consent or are required to make or carry out:

  • a Visual Impact Assessment
  • a Streetscape Analysis
  • a Site Analysis
  • a pre-DA submission
  • a Statement of Environmental Effects
  • a Review of Environmental Factors
  • an Environmental Impact Assessment
  • a Statement of Heritage Impact
  • a Conservation Management Plan
  • an assessment of view loss or view sharing
  • a SEPP 64 of SEPP 65 analysis

Any or all of these may and usually will require a Visual Impact Assessment

Changes to the kind of buildings and landscapes that people prefer; changes to their access to views; too great a contrast to what they like; the sense of losing important things; new buildings that are of the wrong scale, too different or out of character with their surroundings; buildings and landscapes that do not achieve acceptable standards of design, excellence, conservation, view sharing or compliance with accepted standards.

Visual impacts are now among the most important issues to consider in planning new developments.  Quality views, streetscapes, heritage sites and landscapes are valuable and important to protect and conserve.  You may be the developer or may be affected by a development proposed by others.  Visual impacts are an integral and critical part of assessment of the merits of applications. Planning instruments and guidelines such as LEPs, DCPs, Heritage DCPs and Urban Design Guidelines are often largely concerned with visual issues which need to be addressed with skills and appropriate expertise.

A heritage assessment is a thorough and systematic assessment of the values that give cultural significance to an item or a place, which can be natural, rural or designed landscapes, urban places, individual heritage items, streetscapes, precincts and townscapes.  Items and places may be statutorily protected by listing on an LEP or other register of heritage items, may qualify for listing, or be adjacent to, contributory to or form the setting of other heritage items.  Heritage assessments must be carried out as part of an REF, SEE or EIS if heritage items or landscapes are present.

When something that you propose or that someone else proposes can affect the significance of a statutory heritage item, a contributory item or the landscape or setting of a listed item or place.  Development consent cannot be granted without an SOHI being prepared if a statutory item is affected.

It is an assessment of the potential effects of a proposed development on the values that give an item heritage significance.  It requires appropriate professional skills and expertise.  We specialise in landscape heritage assessment, including natural, rural and designed landscapes and urban places and in impacts on individual heritage items, streetscapes, precincts and townscapes.