50 Years of Conservation Areas

Why do we designate conservation areas?

It is 50 years since the Civic Amenities Act 1967 introduced the concept of protecting the character of areas of historic and architectural interest by the designation of conservation areas

The Edinburgh Local Development Plan, adopted in 2016, states that an ongoing review of conservation areas will consider changes to boundaries, opportunities for enhancement, and the designation of new conservation areas. Conservation area status brings a number of special controls including:

  • The demolition of unlisted buildings requires Conservation Area Consent;
  • Some permitted development rights are removed;
  • Alterations to windows are also controlled in conservation areas in terms of the Council’s guidelines; and
  • Works to trees are controlled.

Where are Edinburgh’s conservation areas?

There are currently 49 conservation areas in Edinburgh, including city centre areas, Victorian suburbs and former villages. Each conservation area has its own unique character and appearance. Examples include the Colonies, Dean, Old Town, New Town and South Queensferry Conservation area. The map below shows all our conservation areas:

Conservation Area

Development in Conservation Areas

The designation of a conservation area is not a barrier to all development. Character appraisals are produced to help manage change.  These set out what makes an area special and informs decisions on proposals that may affect the character of an area.  This ensures that development sustains and respects the qualities and special characteristics of the area.  All new development should respect, enhance and provide a positive impact on the area and physical land use change should be based on an understanding of the historic and urban design context.

Future conservation areas

The planning service is considering the designation of Restalrig as a conservation area. The proposed conservation area would include St. Margaret’s Parish Church and surrounding streets. The area has a long and interesting history and the designation would be a way of acknowledging its architectural and historic importance.  As the 50th conservation area in Edinburgh, it would also be an appropriate way to mark the 50 years since the Civic Amenities Act.

You can give us your views about the proposed designation of Restalrig as a conservation area from 6 – 30 October 2017.

Strategy for Setted Streets

Stone setts add significant historic and cultural value to the streets of Edinburgh and are an important feature of our cityscape.

The City of Edinburgh Council has a duty to protect the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site, Conservation Areas and other historic parts of the city. This protection includes the setting of Edinburgh’s many listed buildings, where setted streets are an integral part of their identity and authenticity.

When they are not properly maintained, setted streets can have implications for walking, cycling and driving. Damaged setts are often replaced with alternative materials like tarmac as a temporary solution. This can result in an unsightly and uncared for appearance.

We are working in partnership with Edinburgh World Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland to develop a strategy for the protection and maintenance of setted streets.

Have your say

To help inform the strategy we’d like to know what you think about setted streets and their value to the city. We are also interested to know what issues you think setted streets can have on our movement.

You can give us your views until Wednesday 11 October 2017.

New Town Conservation Area – your views on new buildings

Hello everyone, Katie and I have been out exploring the New Town, taking photographs of some new developments within the conservation area to help raise awareness of the consultation for the New Town Character Appraisal.  This overlaps with the consultation on the World Heritage Site Management Plan and is another way to get feedback on new buildings.

New Town Door
New Town door

A character appraisal is a document which helps to manage change in conservation areas. It sets out what makes an area special and worthy of conservation.  This provides the context for planning decisions on proposals affect the character and appearance of the conservation area.  The character appraisal for the New Town Conservation Area is currently under review and this is an opportunity for people to have their say about some new buildings in the area.

The survey results will help with our understanding of how well the current character appraisal reflects the character and appearance of area as it is today.  The results will also help us see how effective (or not) the character appraisal has been in managing change over the years.

Princes Street Primark
Princes Street: Primark

It would be great if you would take 5 -10 minutes to give us your views using our online survey.

Luke and Katie

Meadows Festival – the feedback!

We were at the Meadows Festival to kick-start consultation on both the Old Town and the New Town Conservation Area Character Appraisals. Luckily for us, it was one of the sunniest Meadows Festivals we can remember! We were very pleased to welcome more than 550 people to our tent.

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We were there both Saturday 4 and Sunday 5th of June to get your views on recent developments in the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh.

The public were asked 2 questions per each new building:

Do you like it?

Does it fit within its environment?

Here’s a taster of the results; they were rather interesting…

If you’re interested in given us your thoughts, there is still time: Old Town developments (link https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/old-town-caca/consult_view).

The festival was a great opportunity to get the views from a wide range of people. Part of the next phase will be to speak to even more people including young people, who live in Edinburgh to find out what they love about their World Heritage city. We can’t wait, watch this space.


Jenny Bruce is the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site Coordinator, she is primarily based at the City of Edinburgh Council but also works with Edinburgh World Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland.

Contact: world.heritage@edinburgh.gov.uk

World Heritage and Conservation Areas – The Meadows Festival 4 & 5 June 2016

This year we’ll have a stall at the Meadows Festival to kick-start consultation on both the Old Town and the New Town Conservation Area Character Appraisals.  We’ll be there both days and will be keen to get your views on recent developments in these parts of the City.

The Meadows
The Meadows

We will keep you informed of progress and about opportunities to get involved in both the Old and New Towns World Heritage Site Management Plan and the Conservation Area Character Appraisal reviews on the blog and on Twitter @planningedin

Hopefully the sun will be shining and we see you there!