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/.

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;

Approval Given for Proposed Approach to Planning Enforcement for Temporary Structures for Hospitality

Last Wednesday at Planning Committee proposals were approved for a proposed approach to planning enforcement for temporary structures.

Since March 2020, the Scottish Government has encouraged a relaxation of planning control where doing so can help business and services to diversify and continue to operate during the pandemic. In November 2021, the Scottish Government’s Chief Planner stated its advice on enforcement relaxation will continue to the end of September 2022.

Planning Committee has agreed that a relaxed approach to planning control will continue in respect of seating structures and it is intended that this approach will remain in place until 7 October 2022. This will allow structures to operate over the spring and summer of 2022 and allow a week after the Chief Planner’s 30 September 2022 date for the end of enforcement relaxation.

Where structures are in place on the street and planning permission has been refused or not likely to be supported, the general approach to be taken is that the structures will be allowed to remain until 7 October 2022. Any structures remaining beyond that period would be removed by the Roads Authority.

Notwithstanding the above, some structures may need to be removed in advance of 7 October 2022. This may be because the street space is required for festival purposes or there is an urgent road maintenance issue which would require their removal. In these circumstances, the Roads Authority would remove the structure under section 59 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 – Control of Obstructions on the Road.

Where structures are on private land and have been refused planning permission or where an application is not likely to be supported, the planning service will issue an enforcement notice requiring removal by 7 October 2022.

If new structures come forward in the meantime, (and it is understood that there is interest from businesses for new structures in the New Town between April and September),  subject to an installation not impacting on disabled persons’ parking spaces, taxi ranks or causing what the road’s authority consider an obstruction, additional structures can be put in place subject to their removal in advance of 7 October 2022

Where businesses seek advice on outdoor seating, they should be advised of the above criteria and about whether there may be a way of having outdoor seating without breaching planning control.

The report can be found here.

Approval given to proceed with proposal to designate Edinburgh as Short-term Let Control Area

On Wednesday at Planning Committee, proposals were approved to designate the City of Edinburgh Council area as a short-term let (STL) control area.

The proposal follows a consultation with the public as well as industry bodies. 

The majority of respondents to the consultation were in favour of a control area, with 88% supporting the principle of it, and 85% supporting the entire City of Edinburgh Council area to be included.

A report of the consultation forms part of our Report to Planning Committee. 

The designation cannot come to effect without the approval of Scottish Government. A request will be submitted to the Scottish Government requesting that the new powers are implemented in the whole of the Edinburgh area.

If the government agree with this approach, and the new legislation is implemented in the city, it will require residential property owners wholly letting a property which is not their principle home as an STL in the local authority area, to apply for planning permission for a ‘change of use’ to a short-term let.

Short-term lets of private rooms or shared rooms where the property is the only or principal home of the host will not be affected by the control area requirement. This allows for house swaps at holidays and also for the host to let out the entire property when on holiday or working away, provided the property remains their only or principal home.

If approval is given by the Scottish Government, the designation will be publicised in advance of coming into effect. 

The introduction of powers to make a control area follows the Council calling for new legislation to tighten up the control of short-term lets to help manage high concentrations of secondary letting where it affects the availability of residential housing and character of a neighbourhood.

Also, it will help to restrict or prevent short-term lets in places or types of buildings where they are not appropriate as well as making sure homes are used to best effect.

Complementary to the control area legislation, the Scottish Parliament has approved legislation which will introduce a new licensing scheme requiring short-term lets to be licensed from July 2024.  It will address the issues of safety, anti-social behaviour and noise.

To keep up to date with the Short-term Lets Control Area;

  • Subscribe to this blog
  • Follow us on twitter at @planningedin

Edinburgh’s Proposed Low Emission Zone: CONSULTATION CLOSING SOON

This week is the last week to take part in our consultation on Edinburgh’s Proposed Low Emission Zone.

Low Emission Zones (LEZs) aim 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.

They 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.

Low Emission Zones (LEZ) improve public health by discouraging the most polluting vehicles from entering an area.

Benefits of this Zone will extend beyond the city centre by improving air quality, encouraging more sustainable travel and supporting the reduction of greenhouse gases across the city.

The LEZ is planned to start the LEZ on 31st May 2022, however enforcement would not begin until 1st June 2024 – a ‘grace period’ of 2 years, which aims to help individuals and organisations to get ready.

Some exemptions will apply to the LEZ rules for example, disabled persons (including blue badge holders), historic vehicles and emergency vehicles as well as others outlined in the ‘Proposal to Make a LEZ’ document.

Why we are consulting

We are seeking views on the following proposed aspects of the Edinburgh LEZ:

  • city centre zone boundary
  • 2 -year grace period
  • local exemptions and considerations for impacted groups

We are also seeking to understand knowledge of LEZs and whether LEZ related support funds and those available for other sustainable transport options.

The consultation period has been running since the 28th June 2021 and is closing on 20th September 2021.

Responses, comments or feedback can also be emailed to: low.emission.zone@edinburgh.gov.uk

or posted to: Low Emission Zone, Waverley Court G3, East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BG

Depending on the volume of feedback received, it is hoped that a final LEZ scheme can be formally published towards the end of 2021 and agreed by the Council and Scottish Ministers early in 2022 before it is implemented in May 2022.

The Proposed Low Emission Zone will align with the Councils;

Take part in our consultation on Edinburgh’s Proposed Low Emission Zone.