Putting people at the heart of conservation

Around 75% of the buildings in the World Heritage Site are listed. Most of these buildings are privately-owned individual houses or tenements.

The conservation of these buildings represents a major challenge to the city due to a range of issues such as the shared ownership of tenements, the large number of short-term holiday lets and absentee landlords, low levels of preventative building maintenance, and, more recently, the effects of climate change.

Edinburgh world heritage

Edinburgh has championed people-centred conservation

Local communities and smaller groups are encouraged to apply for technical support and financial assistance, and then carefully led through the process of historic building conservation under the guidance of an accredited conservation architect. The approach focuses on the owners of the building and their common interest in maintaining it, thereby strengthening local communities.

Edinburgh world heritage
© Edinburgh World Heritage

The approach has proven highly successful. Individual streets which were once considered candidates for demolition are now properly cared for and thriving. Over 1,500 individual projects have now been completed, and the programme has improved the lives of over 10,000 residents.

Edinburgh world heritage
© Edinburgh World Heritage

Three 17th century tenements in the Old Town (185-197 Canongate)

These historic early tenement buildings are home to 23 families, as well as 3 business which occupy the ‘luckenbooths’ – the old Scots name for the ground floor retail space. Edinburgh World Heritage supported the residents by providing grants, advice and commissioning a detailed conservation statement. Of course we also supported residents and owners through the completion of the conservation of the stonework, and repairs to roofing, rainwater goods, and windows. Our involvement ensured that the highest standards of conservation best practice were maintained.

Edinburgh World Heritage arrow
© Edinburgh World Heritage

World Heritage Site fact file

Edinburgh, UK

The essence of the Old and New Towns World Heritage Site is the remarkable juxtaposition of the organic medieval Old Town and the planned Georgian New Town. The association of these two distinctive townscapes, each of exceptional historic and architectural interest, linked across the landscape divide of the Waverley Valley, creates the outstanding urban landscape.

Edinburgh land occupation

These data maps have been produced by A’Urba for Bordeaux Metropole. Within the AtlaS.WH partnership, Bordeaux was responsible for providing management tools to illustrate key land use data comparable between the five partner cities.

Edinburgh city datamap