Edinburgh World Heritage - Policy Framework


Policy Framework

The following documents provide a framework to regulate policy making and urban planning in Edinburgh. The World Heritage status itself does not bring any automatic planning control.

UNESCO Documents

World Heritage status is obtained by sites that are of a universally applicable outstanding value. Edinburgh was inscripted on the list in 1995 based on the following criteria:

ii, to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design.

iv, to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history.

Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage

Download a copy of the Convention (PDF | 364KB)

The Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention

Download a copy of the Operational Guidelines (PDF | 263KB)

World Heritage Information Kit

Download a copy of the Information Kit (PDF | 263KB)

Scottish Government Links

The Scottish national planning policy is currently set out through the National Planning Framework (NPF), the Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) and National Planning Policy Guideline (NPPG) series, Designing Places and Circulars. These can be material considerations to be taken into account in development plans and development management decisions.

The Scottish Government portal for planning.

Historic Scotland Links

Inform Guides

These guides provide information on conservation, repair and maintenance of historic homes and properties. They give excellent advice on how to handle everything from bird droppings to damp and appropriate use of materials. Find out more.

City of Edinburgh Council Documents

Guideline for the Protection of Key Views

This guideline identifies the landmarks that make the views across the city iconic and how they should be protected, outlining the methods for identifying the factors that could potentially disturb the qualities of these views. Find out more.

Conservation Area Character Appraisals

These documents describe the defining characteristics of the different conservation areas in the city with the view to reinforce the City of Edinburgh Council’s objectives of promoting, protecting and enhancing the environment. Below are links to those covering the World Heritage Site, and further links can be found on the City of Edinburgh Council website.

Old Town
New Town

West End

Article 4 Directions

Article 4 Directions ensure appropriate development to the diverse areas of Edinburgh. All 39 conservation areas of the city have Article 4 Directions as directed by the Council. Find out more.

The Edinburgh Standards for Urban Design

This comprises diverse advice for urban design and puts it into an Edinburgh context with the aim to raise awareness of the key features of the city, and ensure a high quality of new build. Find out more.

The Edinburgh Standards for Streets

This link takes you to the City of Edinburgh Council website where you will find direct links to the different parts of the document. The standards are set out to achieve coherence and best practice for improvement in the streets. Find out more.

Edinburgh World Heritage Site Conservation Manifesto

This manifesto was composed with the objective ‘To assist in preserving the historic fabric of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site and to ensure that changes complement and enhance its special character.’

The Development Plan

The development plan is made up of two plans working on different levels: the structure plan that addresses land use issues which cross local authority boundaries and strategic infrastructure, and the local plan that provides the detailed policies that guide most day-to-day decision making.

The Edinburgh City Local Plan...Find out more.

Draft Princes Street Heritage Framework

This provides a framework that considers the historical and cultural significance of Princes Street that is to guide the protection and regeneration of the area. It complements the City Centre Princes Street Development Framework. Find out more.

City Centre Princes Street Development Framework...Find out more

Gardens and Designed Landscapes...Find out more

Other Guidance, Advice and Publications

The City of Edinburgh Council also have policies covering individual planning or design topics, design guides and development briefs, master plans and regeneration strategies for areas of change. Find out more.

ICOMOS Documents

ICOMOS Tool kit for World Heritage Site Monitoring Indicators

This document outlines the importance of monitoring World Heritage Sites by use of measurable indicators of change. Primary and secondary indicators are identified and examples of how these can be used are provided. Find out more.

Recent Projects

From the three year Twelve Monuments Project to the major restoration of Well Court.


EWH Historic Home Guides, Annual Reviews and the World Heritage Site Management Plan available for download.

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