Old and New Towns World Heritage Site Management Plan review consultation results


Almost 600 of you took part in our July survey on the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site- a great response, thank you!

Number of respondents of the consultation on Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site
Number of respondents of the consultation on Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site

We wanted to understand more about the strengths and weaknesses of the Site to inform how best to manage it.

The survey was based around 14 key themes: awareness of the World Heritage status, maintenance of buildings and streets, moving around, natural space, city centre economy, guidance, new developments, housing, visitor management, sense of belonging, facilities, sense of control, safety, livability.

The survey showed that Edinburgh continues to be an attractive place for people to live and work that engenders a strong sense of identity and belonging.

However, when asked to think about the maintenance of buildings and streets as well as the impact of new development, respondents expressed concern. The availability of housing, the impact of the tourist economy and transportation were topics that divided opinion.

This blog sums up the results. For a more complete overview of the results, please watch the video below or you can also download a copy of the results. If you would like to hear what people said then you can listen to some conversations in a previous post here.

Some of the celebrated strengths (scoring 5/7 or more):

  • Natural Space
  • Identity and belonging
  • Livability
  • Feeling Safe
  • Facilities and amenities

Overall, the respondents are very satisfied with Edinburgh’s city centre as a place to live and work. The parks and green spaces were very highly rated and the city centre is felt to be safer than most the one’s of other comparable capitals. More lighting at night and a reduction of the traffic speed was suggested to create an even greater sense of safety in the area.

Edinburgh’s strong visual identity and its years of history were thought to be contributing to a real sense of pride and belonging to the city. The respondents felt generally positive about the level of amenities and facilities the city centre offers, as there is a wide range of offer and there are easily accessible.

Areas of debate (scoring 3 to 4/7):

  • Housing
  • Moving around
  • City centre economy

The cost of living, the city centre economy and the ease to move around were topics that generated a lot of comments.

Affordable housing is a key issue and it was felt that the city centre should be providing more affordable housing options to retain its resident population in the city centre.  And while the compactness of the city is seen as an asset, many said that traffic still dominates pedestrian and cycling movement. Opinion was divided as to whether the Royal Mile achieved enough for its residents as it is thought to be too geared towards tourists.

Recognisable challenges (Scoring 3/7 or lower)

Out of the 14 initial themes, the 6 themes that scored the lowest or engendered the most negative comments were:

  • Care and Maintenance of buildings and streets
  • Control and Guidance
  • Contribution of new developments to city centre
  • Influence and sense of control
  • Visitor Management
  • Awareness of World Heritage Site

When asked to think about the level of care and maintenance of buildings and streets, residents felt that there is still a lot to be done. Issues such as general litter and the quality of road and pavements were mentioned. Making sure that planning laws were enforced is critical for the respondents. Recent new developments divided opinion, the respondents are hoping for better quality and more innovative architecture that is respectful of the Old Town and New Town’s architectural context.

The influence and sense of control is one area that could be improved as the respondents felt they were being asked to participate but failed to see the impact of this participation.

The balance between visitor and resident needs was a source of numerous comments. The Royal Mile attracts the largest number of tourists but is seen to not deliver enough for the resident’s population. While despite the fact the awareness of the city centre’s World Heritage site status was rated highly, respondents were mostly unaware of what it meant and what the benefits were.

What are we doing about this feedback?

The feedback was very constructive and the partnership is currently taking the responses forward to develop a detailed management plan with the key priorities for site’s management.

An oversight group made of community council and business representatives, elected members, advisors from ICOMOS UK (International Council on monuments and Sites UK) and the management partners (City of Edinburgh Council, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh World Heritage) is meeting at the beginning of November to discuss the outcomes of this consultation.

These results are the key to further develop measures to maintain, preserve and enhance the quality and experience of the World Heritage Site.

As the management plan is not a generic city plan, there were inevitably issues raised which are not directly related to the Outstanding Universal Value of the site and best addressed by other strategies. All of the consultation results that relate to other strategies are being fed back up to the relevant contacts.

What next?

The draft plan will be out for formal consultation in March 2017. More information will be provided on the blog and the Hub in due course.

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