For the Sydney Opera House, the following statutory framework applies where external approval is required. This framework ensures that any proposal which may have a potential impact on the State, National or World Heritage values of the place is rigorously assessed before any approval is granted. The relevant legislation includes:
- Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) (EP&A Act)
- Heritage Act 1977 (NSW)
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conversation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act)
Development at the Sydney Opera House is classified as State Significant Development, and requires approval under the EP&A Act, unless the proposed development is otherwise exempt. The Sydney Opera House has a limited number of exempt development categories.
The Opera House received State Heritage listing in 2003 under the Heritage Act. A set of heritage exemptions were granted under this Act for certain minor works and outdoor events. Works and activities not covered by these exemptions must be submitted for separate approval (Section 60) under the Act by the Heritage Council of New South Wales prior to being undertaken. This is in addition to any other approvals required in relation to the action.
Australia is a signatory to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the Convention) in relation to World Heritage-listed sites, including the Opera House. The relevant Commonwealth environment agency represents the Australian Government in all matters relating to the Convention. It liaises with the World Heritage Centre (which acts as Secretariat to the World Heritage Committee) to ensure Australia fulfils its obligations. Obligations arising from this listing include periodic reporting. Refer to Section 4.20.10 World Heritage Listing.
The EPBC Act is the legislative mechanism underpinning this framework. The Opera House is a matter of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act by virtue of its status as a World Heritage property and National Heritage place (Part 3). As such, a proposed action that potentially will have a ‘significant impact’ on the Opera House requires referral and may require assessment under the EPBC Act. (Respecting the Vision: Sydney Opera House – a Conservation Management Plan, Fourth Edition, 2017).
The Joan Sutherland Theatre SAVE, Entry and Foyers and Function Centre projects received EPBC approval (EPBC 2016/7825) on 20 June 2017. In accordance with this approval, the Sydney Opera House prepares annual compliance reports which are available on this page.
The Concert Hall and Creative Learning Centre projects received EPBC approval (EPBC 2017/7955) on 21 January 2020. In accordance with this approval, the Sydney Opera House prepares annual compliance reports which are available below.
Opera House Concert Hall Renewal
Lower Concourse Renewal
All documentation associated with the Opera House Lower Concourse renewal is available below.