Saturday, 21 June 2008

Does Caltongate's approval show heritage issues aren't important?

see here buildings to face the wrecking ball!

JAMES SIMPSON, conservation architect and vice-president of ICOMOS UK, an advisory body to Unesco

THE International Council on Monuments and Sites, which is responsible for monitoring the UK's World Heritage Sites, has been extremely concerned about the decisions taken on the Caltongate development to date.

One of the main issues of concern is that there is no extra protection for World Heritage Sites provided under the current planning system in Scotland.

We hope that will be addressed under the new planning act which is going through the Scottish Parliament at the moment so that World Heritage Sites have specific guidelines for protection over and above other areas.

The main problem with Caltongate is that the decision to demolish two listed buildings has effectively allowed the developer to greatly expand the size and scale of their scheme.

One of the great principles of urban conservation in Edinburgh, dating back to the time of Patrick Geddes, is that any interventions into the existing landscape should be kept as small as possible and not be too overwhelming.

Unfortunately, that is what we feel will happen with the Caltongate development, which we feel is simply not good enough for Edinburgh's World Heritage Site.

We have been living through an era where there has been high development pressure in cities such as Edinburgh and it does seem as if heritage concerns have been neglected.

The city council does seem to have been going for a more competitive approach to development in recent years.

However, our view would be that the balance has swung too far.

Read other side of argument from Chamber of Commerce (sick bag recommended)

Caltongate Go ahead may put heritage at risk Article 19th June Scotsman