Edinburgh’s Positive Progress in addressing Buildings at Risk

The Buildings at Risk Register is used to record and monitor any historic buildings in Scotland which are at risk. The Register was set up in 1990 and is managed by Historic Environment Scotland. A building at risk can be a listed, historical building or a building in a conservation that meets one or more of the following criteria: vacant with no identified new use, suffering from neglect, poor maintenance or structural problems, fire damaged, unsecured or open to the elements, and threatened with demolition. This list is not exhaustive and other criteria may be considered when assessing a building.

Within Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, there are currently 18 buildings on the Register.  Over the last ten years there have been a total of 54 buildings categorised as ‘at risk’ within the World Heritage Site (WHS). During this period, 29 have been saved, reoccupied and removed from the Register; six are currently categorised as ‘restoration in progress’; and of the remaining 21 properties, 13 remain categorised ‘at risk’ with eight having sadly been lost to demolition.

Category A buildings are the highest category of listing. These are buildings of special architectural or historic interest which are outstanding examples of a particular period, style or building type. Between 2012 and 2022, 17 Category ‘A’ listed buildings ‘at risk’ within the WHS have been saved and two have been demolished. In 2012, there were 16 Category ‘A’ listed ‘at risk’ properties within the WHS. In 2022, this number has been reduced, with 11 Category ‘A’ listed ‘at risk’ properties within the WHS remaining on the Register.

A number of the current ‘at risk’ buildings (four) form part of high-profile development sites and regeneration projects, including the India Buildings on Victoria Street where the Virgin Hotel is being currently being developed. To also note, that a further five entries relate to the Old Royal High School where it is hoped that the St Mary’s Music School proposals will form the focus of a renovation scheme for the site.

Buildings remain on the Register until they have been fully restored and reoccupied. Over the last 10 years, a number of internationally significant Category ‘A’ listed ‘at risk’ buildings within the WHS  have undergone restoration, reoccupation and have been removed from the Register. Examples of successful restoration schemes include City Observatory on Calton Hill, Riddles Court in Lawnmarket, and the former Donaldson’s School for the Deaf. Looking forward to seeing more successful restoration schemes for the remaining buildings on the Register!

Edinburgh is the best performing of the four major cities in Scotland when it comes to looking after its historic buildings. The Current BARR shows that the City of Edinburgh Council has the lowest percentage of listed buildings at-risk of the four major cities in Scotland.

The positive progress in addressing buildings on the BARR is a reflection of the city’s economic buoyancy and strong property market. As part of the Council’s statutory duty to protect the historic environment, the Planning Service seeks to work with owners to support them to work towards the best outcome for each property. In more difficult cases, this can involve using the statutory powers granted to local authorities to intervene and take direct action.

To find out more about buildings at risk and to view the full Register, please visit https://buildingsatrisk.org.uk/.

Help us to help you

The Planning service is as busy as ever with large number of planning applications and enforcement queries coming through the door. Key projects are continuing to progress including City Plan 2030 and the Low Emissions Zone. At the same time, we have a continuous programme of improvement to address changes such as the new planning fees and to ensure our processes are as efficient and robust as possible.

We are pleased that a number of new assistant planners have been recruited and they will be joining us over the next few months. We are also recruiting for a new planning officer.

Whilst there is much positive news, we do recognise that planning applications are taking longer to assess and determine than we would like, and we are not always meeting our statutory timescales. We know we need to do better. We are looking at a number of measures to address the backlog.

If you have recently submitted or about to submit an application, please pay particular attention to your acknowledgement letter at this time.

Photographs & relevant contextual plans

It would help significantly if you could provide the following information at the time of application submission or upload as additional information post submission:

  • Photographs showing the location of the work and the wider context (including interiors for listed building consent applications)
  • Dimensions on the plans
  • Contextual information i.e. neighbouring windows/ extensions (if relevant)
  • 45 degree daylighting calculations (if relevant)

Please be patient and understanding – we will get there but it is going to take a little longer.

We’re Hiring!

We’re looking for a skilled and motivated planning officer to join our team.

Our planning service is continuing with our major change programme to help make it fit for the future and be fully able to support the significant change Edinburgh faces in the years ahead.

We are looking for a planning officer who is committed to delivering an efficient, effective and customer-focused planning service and delivering great places.  

You will be responsible for handling a varied and challenging range and volume of planning and enforcement cases, for carrying out projects and contributing to change and improvement, and for supporting the professional development of yourself and your colleagues.

As part of our agile, multidisciplinary workforce, you will be expected to continually gain skills enabling you to work in different teams and operational areas in the planning service.  

We are committed to creating a workplace culture where all our people feel valued, included and able to be their best at work, and we recognise the benefits that a diverse workforce with different values, beliefs, experience and backgrounds brings to us as an organisation.

Find out more at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/planningjobs.

Submit your application using myjobscotland – closing date Wednesday 13 April 2022.

Edinburgh’s Proposed Low Emission Zone takes another step forward

Last week Edinburgh’s proposed Low Emission Zone (LEZ) took another step forward, as sign-off was given by the Council’s Transport & Environment Committee last Thursday for of the official objection period.

The LEZ aims to reduce air pollution, since it presents a significant threat to public health. It is especially harmful to young children, the elderly and those suffering from pre-existing conditions, including heart and lung diseases.

LEZs are being introduced across Scotland’s four largest cities: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee in response to dangerous levels of air pollution generated by road traffic. The LEZ will improve public health by discouraging the most polluting vehicles from entering an area.

Last year we ran a consultation between June & September 2021 which received over 5,000 responses.

Following the consultation, an objection period ran from 1 February to 1 March 2022. During this time we received 26 objections and 1 letter of support. Objections were from a mixture of individuals, businesses and organisations including some Community Councils.

The most common objections were about;

  • the LEZ boundary should be wider or smaller
  • the process for assessing local exemptions
  • the modelling/evidence base & how robust it was

The next step for the LEZ is to submit the proposal to Scottish Ministers for approval. Assuming approval is granted by Ministers, the LEZ will be introduced on 31 May 2022. There will be a two year ‘grace period’, meaning it won’t be enforced until June 2024.

There are various LEZ related support funds for businesses and households available for other sustainable transport options

The Proposed LEZ will align with the Councils;

Scottish Planning Fees Change 1 April 2022

Fees for planning applications set by the Scottish Government change today for almost all application types.

This means everything submitted to us from today onwards is affected, including:

  • ‘full’ planning permission
  • planning permission in principle
  • certificates of lawfulness
  • advertisement consent

Amongst the changes, standard ‘householder’ fees increase from £202 to £300, whilst the standard fee for construction of a new dwelling increases from £401 to £600.

Details of the changes are set out by The Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications) (Scotland) Regulations 2022.

Using the ePlanning.scot Fee Calculator is the easiest way to calculate a fee, and can be used without having to log in or to submit an application.

Once you know your correct fee, paying is also easy, and can be done whilst submitting your application on ePlanning.scot.

For those applicants or agents who need to make an additional payment, or for applicants who may wish to pay after their agent has submitted, you can also pay for your planning application online using this link (for a quick guide to using this payment system, have a look at this blog post from November 2020.)

In addition, fees for pre-application advice are changing on 1 April – details can be found here.

Some other fees related to Planning & Building Standards change today, including;