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/.

Planning and Building Standards Service COVID -19 Update (22 May 2020)

virtual dmsub west craigs masterplan
Presentation on a masterplan for housing at West Craigs at the most recent virtual Development Management Sub-committee

This is our latest update to the continuing changes to the planning service as we adapt to the restrictions needed during the COVID -19 outbreak.

Development Management Sub-Committee

This week saw our first ‘virtual’ meeting of the Development Management Sub-Committee.  The meeting was webcast live and went pretty smoothly thanks to a lot of preparation by all concerned.

We’ve learned that it takes a lot more resource than traditional meetings in the City Chambers. Behind-the-screens work included having back-up planners on stand-by in case of IT issues, and partners/children/pets being banished from the house, or at least the wi-fi router.

The meeting allowed several important cases to be discussed by the elected members in the sub-committee. These include some key sites in the current Local Development Plan reaching significant milestones.

virtual dm sub floating heads
Discussion with councillors at the most recent virtual Development Management Sub-committee

We intend to hold virtual sub-committees on a regular basis from here on, which will allow us to make and issue decisions to support economic renewal and a positive future for the city.

Extended duration of Listed Building and Conservation Area Consents

The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill has passed through the parliament and will soon become an Act. The Bill makes changes to some of the duties of public bodies. These changes will allow essential public services to continue to be delivered and support businesses and individuals in Scotland.

The Act will extend the duration of a listed building consent or a conservation area consent that would otherwise lapse during the emergency period because the works have not begun. The emergency period is the period beginning with the Act coming into force and ending on 6 October 2020.

Consents to which this applies will instead lapse at the end of an extended period which ends on 6 April 2021 unless works have begun before the end of the extended period.

Planning reform

Despite the restrictions around Coronavirus, work is still progressing on the implementation of the work programme for the Planning (Scotland) Act, which seeks to make changes to the Scottish planning system as part of a wider review of the system.

Two new provisions of the Planning (Scotland) Act are now in place. The first introduces a statutory requirement for certain types of development to include accessible toilet facilities which meet specific technical standards. Details of the standards and type of development this applies to can be found here, and this will now apply to these types of developments in Edinburgh as well as across Scotland.

The second introduces a power for planning authorities to designate parts of their council areas as short-term let control areas, as a further means of controlling where short-term lets may be permitted. There will need to further Council-wide discussions before we consider the use of this power. Details can be found here.

Further updates

We will continue to adapt and change our service as necessary to ensure we can continue working for the recovery of the city, such as with our previous updates to our pre-application service, weekly lists and site notices.

Please subscribe to the blog by email to receive further updates as soon as they are posted to stay up-to-date.

Guidance for Householders Review

Our Guidance for Householders is being reviewed and we’d like your comments on the proposed changes.

Guidance for Householders draft for consultation front cover April 2017

What the Guidance is for

The Guidance is for people considering altering or extending their house.  This includes dormers, conservatories, extensions, decking, garages and outbuildings.  It aims to assist in creating high quality and well designed alterations and extensions that:

  • complement the existing house, leaving it as the dominant element
  • maintain the quality and character of the surrounding area and
  • respect the amenity of the adjacent neighbours

Dormer ExtensionsSide Extensions

Street Alterations

What are the changes?

The main changes include:

  • reordering the document
  • clarification of some text
  • text on self-contained extensions
  • bungalow extensions and
  • roof terraces.

Changes have been made as a result of internal consultation with planning teams and reviewing the use of the Guidance in decision making.

Have your say

You can give us comments using the consultation hub, which also contains a link to the draft revised Guidance.  After the consultation we will consider if any further amendments to the document are required before reporting the changes to Planning Committee for approval.

Consultation on the Guidance will close on 2 June 2017.