City of Rockingham


The City of Rockingham has a proud history. The area now known as the City of Rockingham was originally inhabited in part by the Nyoongar Aboriginal people. The City was first settled by Europeans when Sulphur Town was established on Garden Island in 1829, with the East Rockingham area also containing a number of early pioneers. Rockingham Town developed as a timber port in the 1870s, however, when the viability of loading timber declined, Rockingham became known as a tourist destination for day-trippers from Perth. Rockingham began to grow steadily in the 1950s following the development of nearby Kwinana as a major industrial area.

The history of Rockingham is celebrated by the Rockingham District Historical Society which manages the Rockingham Museum.

A more detailed historical overview of Rockingham is contained within the Municipal Heritage Inventory.

We use three devices to record and maintain places having local cultural heritage significance: its Municipal Heritage Inventory, Heritage List, and Heritage Conservation and Development Policy.

Draft Heritage Strategy

We are currently developing a draft Heritage Strategy. The Heritage Strategy will establish an Action Plan to identify how we can improve the management of our heritage under the themes of understanding, protecting, sustaining and promoting. This includes Natural, Aboriginal and European heritage.

Our Heritage Consultant held a series of workshops with City staff and with the City's Aboriginal Advisory Group, Youth Reference Group, Heritage Reference Group and with the wider community in November 2018. We also held an online public survey to inform the draft Heritage Strategy. Following the close of the public survey on 9 December 2018, the draft Heritage Strategy was completed by the City's Heritage Consultant, and is currently being reviewed. The strategy is likely to be considered by Council in February 2020, for its consent to advertise and seek public comment.

Local Heritage Strategy

A Local Heritage Survey (also known as a "Municipal Heritage Inventory") is a list of places and structures which, in the opinion of the City, are, or may become, of cultural heritage significance.

​Local governments are required under section 45 of the Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990 to prepare a Municipal Heritage Inventory (MHI) to recognise the heritage importance of places to the local community.

'​Cultural heritage significance'​ is the aesthetic, historic, scientific or social significance of a play may have for present and future generations. This term has been defined by the Heritage Council of Western Australia and is used as assessment criteria in the preparation of a MHI to evaluate the importance of a place.

The Heritage Act of Western Australia 2018 was passed by Parliament on 12 September 2018 and came into effect with Heritage Regulations 2019 on 1 July 2019.

The key changes in the new Heritage Act of Western Australia include:

  • streamlined process for entering a place in the State Register
  • more certainty for owners wishing to develop their heritage places
  • better protections for important heritage places (including addressing demolition by neglect)
  • increased transparency by publishing the Heritage Council's advice to the Minister for Heritage on the inclusion of a place in the State Register.

Our Municipal Heritage Inventory has become a "Local Heritage Survey" under the 2018 Act. One of the major changes to the Local Heritage Survey is that it can provide more flexibility to governments to include "places" of cultural significance, as opposed to "buildings" (as stated under the previous 1990 Act). Within Part 7 of the 2019 Act, the definition of "place" can refer to things that are in, on or over land, including for instance, a tree or group of trees or land under water.

Heritage List

A Heritage List is a list of places compiled under the City's Town Planning Scheme No.2 for which development approval will be required for demolition, alterations or other development affecting the cultural heritage significance of the place.

Heritage Lists must be compiled with regard to the Municipal Heritage Inventory, but do not necessarily include all places in the Municipal Heritage Inventory. We include all places on the Municipal Heritage Inventory with a Management Category of "D" or higher on the list, but excludes historic sites (where the structure is gone) and places outside of the jurisdiction of the City's Town Planning Scheme (such as Garden Island and Penguin Island).

Heritage Conservation and Development Policy

The Heritage Conservation and Development Policy provides guidance on how we deal with proposals to extend, alter, redevelop or demolish places on the Heritage List.

The policy:

  • applies the development control principles contained in the State Planning Policy 3.5 Historic Heritage Conservation
  • provides development and design guidance for development places on the Heritage List
  • details procedures for making application for approval of heritage-related development.

The objectives of the Heritage Conservation and Development Policy are:

  • to conserve and protect places of cultural heritage significance within the City
  • to ensure that development does not adversely affect the significance of heritage places
  • to ensure that heritage significance is given due consideration in determining applications for Development Approval
  • to provide greater certainty to landowners and the community about the planning processes for heritage identification and protection in the City.

Conservation Management Plans

A Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is described by the State Heritage Office as a principle guiding document for the conservation and management of a heritage place. The main objective of the CMP is to ensure that decisions are made with regard to the cultural heritage significance of a heritage place. A CMP describes the heritage significance of the place and provides clear policies for the sustainable future of the place.

A CMP is a management tool and provides guidance for not only the maintenance of the place but also for changes proposed for the place. They are also a good social and historical record of the place before changes occur.

Frequently asked questions

What is heritage?

The nature of heritage often confuses people, as the word ‘heritage’ has a number of meanings. We define heritage as "Aspects of our past that we want to keep: a site which has played an important part in our history, a building which is special because of its architectural style or association with a person, or a natural feature such as a rock formation, fossil site or landscape - things which we would like future generations to enjoy."

Why is heritage important?

Heritage is important in understanding the story of both Western Australia and the local community - its history, identity and diversity. We wish to protect these places so that future generations will be able to enjoy a rich and diverse cultural environment and to understand what came before them.

How is a place identified as having cultural heritage significance?

'Cultural heritage significance' is the aesthetic, historic, scientific or social significance a place may have for present and future generations. These values have been defined by the Heritage Council of Western Australia and, in the preparation of a Municipal Heritage Inventory, are used as assessment criteria to evaluate the importance of a place for the local government area.

Heritage identification also occurs at the national and state levels using similar criteria. The Federal Government lists places at the national level, and the State Government lists places at the state level. In Western Australia, state-significant places are entered onto the Heritage Council of Western Australia’s State Register of Heritage Places.

Why do we have a Municipal Heritage Inventory?

The Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990 requires all local government authorities in Western Australia to compile, and periodically update and review, a Municipal Heritage Inventory. The City responded positively to the Act, and by 1995 had compiled the City of Rockingham Municipal Heritage Inventory. The Inventory was prepared by a qualified Heritage Advisor in consultation with the City’s Heritage Advisory Committee and was reviewed in 1998. In 2008 we updated our inventory.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the Act, the Municipal Heritage Inventory can assist us to:

  • provide a cultural and historic record of the local district
  • determine our heritage conservation policies
  • provide information about local heritage that may be required under our Town Planning Scheme No.2
  • achieve the heritage conservation objectives of town planning in the City.
Does entry in the Municipal Heritage Inventory offer legal protection?

The City of Rockingham Municipal Heritage Inventory simply provides recognition of a place's importance to the local community. Places entered in the Inventory do not have legal protection, unless they are also listed in the City’s Heritage List under Town Planning Scheme No.2, or have been entered in the State Register of Heritage Places.

What are Management Categories?

Some places are more important to the community than others and some buildings have been lost over time, with only the site remaining. Management Categories recognise the levels of significance and intactness of heritage places and provide recommendations to us as to the kind of care that should be taken for each place.

Each place entered onto the Municipal Heritage Inventory is afforded a Management Category between A and E, with A being the most significant, D being the least significant, and E being a historic site only (i.e. with no remaining structures).

How do I know if my property is listed in a Municipal Heritage Iventory or on other lists?

We keep a copy of the Municipal Heritage Inventory and Heritage List for public access.

You can also search the State Heritage Office's Places Database available on its website, which provides information on places entered in the State Register of Heritage Places, Municipal Inventories, National Trust's List of Classified Places and other heritage lists.

Does inclusion on the Municipal Inventory or Heritage List affect ownership and/or permit public access?

No. The place remains the sole property of the owner. Normal access arrangements will remain in place; that is, any person accessing the property without the owner’s consent will be a trespasser.

Can I still make changes to my property?

Yes, but development approval is required for alterations, extensions, change of use or demolition where the building is entered on the Heritage List under the City’s Town Planning Scheme No.2.  Our Heritage Conservation and Development Policy provides further information on making an application for works on a heritage-listed property along with the development incentives that may apply.

Is demolition prohibited?

Where a place is entered on the Heritage List under the City's Town Planning Scheme, development approval is required for demolition of a building. Our Heritage Conservation and Development Policy provides further information and guidance on the demolition of heritage-listed places.

General maintenance and minor works

You can carry out maintenance work that does not involve removing or altering significant elements on your property or if you are simply replacing like-for-like materials.

General maintenance includes:

  • cleaning gutters and downpipes
  • repainting using the same colour scheme (damage to earlier paint layers should be removed where possible)
  • cleaning that is low pressure, non-abrasive and non-chemical
  • replacing missing or deteriorated fittings or building materials, such as loose roof sheeting, with like-for-like materials

Maintenance can also involve replacing electrical wiring or other utility services.

Similarly, gardening or landscape maintenance does not need to be referred unless there is a danger of disturbing archaeolgical sites.

Other minor works include electronic security systems as long as the works do not damage the building or place.

If you are unsure whether the work you propose to carry out needs to be referred, please contact the City's Planning Team for advice.

Is financial assistance available?

Incentives provided by other organisations, such as grants and tax rebates, may apply for proposals to conserve heritage places. These are offered by the Heritage Council of Western Australia, the Federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Lotterywest and The National Trust of Australia (WA). Community groups may also be eligible for funding under our Community Grants Program. Information about the incentive programs is available from the following websites:

What advice or assistance is available?

Our Planning Services team can answer any queries relating to the Municipal Heritage Inventory or Heritage List.

Publications from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage website have been used as the source for some of the above information. Additional details and other general and technical information can be downloaded from this site.

Past memories

The City has collected a series of photographs which show the historical development of the City through the decades.

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