Heritage case studies: Scotland
Heritage case studies: Scotland

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3.3 Managing Edinburgh as a heritage site

In 1999, Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, a managing body, was established. In 2005, it published the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust Old and New Towns of Edinburgh management plan. This sets out what is significant about the World Heritage site, and outlines the steps for conserving and managing that significance. It lists the key features of the World Heritage site as follows:

  • landscape setting – its topography of hills and valleys, juxtaposition of the Old and New Towns, and the valley of the River Leith;

  • urban form and architecture – its contrasting urban character, highly intact townscape, historic buildings and interiors, parks, gardens, graveyards, statues and monuments;

  • history and heritage as the capital of Scotland – associated with a long tradition of education, law and intellectual tradition – and as a festival city.

Edinburgh presents a series of unique challenges as a living city that is also a World Heritage site. Clearly, it would be impossible to stall all new development in a living city, so the management plan puts in place a series of controls to ensure that new developments enhance or contribute to the significant values of the place. These include: the maintenance of key views within the city through controls on the construction of buildings that might obscure them; controlling the form and character of new buildings; and excluding the development of areas around the River Leith. Other controls include those associated with historic and listed buildings, statues and gardens. Edinburgh provides us with a striking example of the ways in which heritage can be integrated into the management of a modern, living cityscape.

  • Edinburgh World Heritage Trust

  • Old and New Towns of Edinburgh management plan

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