Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Director's Notes – September 2017

Adam Wilkinson reflects on recent achievements and future priorities at Edinburgh World Heritage

Sep 14, 2017

What a summer! While the city seems to have been busier than ever (igniting a series of fascinating and important debates in the press and more widely), the EWH office has been going at full tilt.

After working hard with residents and building owners to bring forward conservation projects, we are currently supporting around 20 projects that are on site, with another 20 due to start soon. We are gearing up for the next Historic Environment Scotland funding period (2018-21) and understanding what has worked well over the last three years, and where we’ve found unexpected challenges.

A number of other programmes are also getting underway, including the EU-funded ATLAS-WH programme with partners in Porto, Florence, Bordeaux and Santiago, which will allow us to share learning and expertise around the sustainable management of our historic city centre, and identify and organise relevant training for city managers in Scotland and wider.

Other projects are coming to a close – and I’d like to draw your attention to one very long running idea that is finally coming to fruition: The Georgian Gardens Manual. We would hugely appreciate your support in bringing this to life through a crowdfunding campaign. Every penny given will go towards publishing the first comprehensive manual on the care and maintenance of 18th and early 19th century planned urban parks and gardens.

One of the largest debates in the city has been around the future of the former Royal High School on Calton Hill – one of the most important Greek Revival buildings in Europe, on a par with the finest works of Schinkel and Smirke. EWH has long been concerned to find the right balance between the reuse of the building and the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage Site.

At the end of August, the new Development Management Sub Committee of the City of Edinburgh Council comprehensively rejected the latest application for a hotel on the site, expressing deep concern at its potential impact on the city’s heritage. This was a brave and difficult decision, but one that demonstrates that the local system of protection for the World Heritage Site is working. We are grateful to the city’s politicians and officers for this decision, and will continue to support their stance during the upcoming public inquiry: not entirely unexpectedly, the hotel developer has appealed the council’s decision.

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