Sunday, 30 November 2008

Paul de Ley - Rebel Architect and Social Regenerist - we need you!

Girl barricades herself against community building when the metro was being built in Amsterdam in 1975

Riot police come in to protect the demolitioners from the community in Nuiwemarkt, Amsterdam, 1975

In the 70s the heart of Amsterdam faced demolitions and developments however members of the community rebelled. They could not save all their homes and much loved buildings but in the rebellion there became a community buy in into planning what they wanted their local community to look like, it did mean though that there were clashes with the authorities as the resisted the wrecking balls and they were not fully sucessful.

Paul de Ley was an architect who became involved in the rebellion and protests and with the community were able to put forward a vibrant living city centre plan with homes and facilities that suited the canal sides of Amsterdam, read more here. The result was social housing and a new generation of urban planning (which sadly has faded away).

Social housing designed by the community and Paul de Ley in the 1970s

Paul de Ley meets Amsterdam councillors with his community plan in the 1970s (Paul's the one without the suit and curly hair).

Lets hope there will be no clashes with the police at Caltongate but that there is some light reflected onto the whole subject of Caltongate. The community would love to be involved in redesigning the Waverley valley and the north back of the Canongate - there are plenty architects and urban planners with the spirit of Paul de Ley in Edinburgh -if only there were given the chance..

Sunday, 23 November 2008

12 Days Of Christmas from SOOT

Its almost that time of year once again, time for a trip down memory lane........or have they privatised that now???

A SENIOR city councillor has landed himself in hot water by making an obscene one-fingered gesture to carol-singing protesters.

Remember that from December 2006?

Full story here -Councillor in One Finger Salute

Below is one of the carols adapted and sung by a group of Save Our Old Town Campaigners as councillors and other officials entered a champagne reception hosted by Caltongate Developers Mountgrange at The Fruitmarket Gallery on Market Street, close to the proposed development.

Mountgrange director Manish Chande, lied in the press in May this year (2008). He claimed that the wife of Trevor Davie had verbal abuse shouted at her from one of the carol singing campaingers . We are still awaiting a retraction of this blatent lie.Full story here

On the twelfth day of Christmas My council sent to me:

Twelve diggers digging

Eleven planners planning

Ten global chain stores

Nine builders building

Eight PR spinners

Seven legal experts

Six cows a conning

A five star hotel

Four wrecking balls

Three cheap homes

Two office blocks

And Mountgrange with a Masterplan

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

UNESCO Slams City on Caltongate

By Brian Ferguson The Scotsman Today Full Article Here

from the article -
"UNESCO yesterday criticised Edinburgh council's handling of the Caltongate development and said the demolition of two listed buildings could have been avoided, The Scotsman can reveal.
Its European heritage chief, Dr Mechtild Rössler, condemned the council for allowing the London developer Mountgrange to draw up the initial blueprint for the huge Old Town site, by Waverley Station."

"Jim Lowrie, Edinburgh city council's planning leader, admitted the local authority could be left in a "tricky position" if the council's handling of Mountgrange was strongly criticised and asked for a response."

"However, Mountgrange has launched an attack on Unesco, the world heritage body, branding it an "irrelevance" and saying it is not interested in its views on the £300 million development."

The firm said it has no intention of postponing the start of work until after next summer's World Heritage summit, in Seville, discusses Edinburgh.
A spokesman Mark Cummings of Never Beaten PR said a "dangerous precedent" would be set if a major developer had to wait until Unesco had delivered its judgment, and insisted that Mountgrange had no intention of changing its scheme, even if key criticisms were made by Unesco."

Should Unesco be more in touch with modern urban planning reality? (odd question??)
RON HEWITT Chief executive, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce (remember Manish Chande, Caltongate Developer, is the chambers property portfolio Head!)
THE recent visit of the Unesco delegation was a welcome opportunity for the directors of the World Heritage Committee to assure themselves regarding the situation

on the ground. That Dr (Mechtild] Rössler, in summing up, saw no reason to report Edinburgh's World Heritage status being at risk is welcomed by the business community. The existing environment is a key reason why developers want to invest in our city. And if we want them to do so we must have attitudes that make investors welcome.We don't agree the city is in a polarised debate about the issue.

Whenever we meet with heritage groups we are able to have open conversations about a joint interest – preserving and developing one of the finest cities in Europe. Has this underlying commonality ruled the roost of the planning process? No! Should it? Yes! Do we need a better planning process to make applications run more smoothly? Yes! And it has arrived. It is called the Planning Act Scotland 2006 and it stipulates that community consultation should precede the hearing of applications in the council's planning committee.
It is interesting that Dr Rössler seemed unaware of these provisions. We explained the delays in bringing in regulations to implement the act are occasioned by a lengthy period of consultation – just what has been asked for all along. Dr Rössler told us Unesco has no interest in (or resources to deliver) vetting of planning applications in Edinburgh. Historic Scotland (legally) performs the function of overseeing our historic environment. We will continue to work with that organisation and other heritage bodies.
SALLY RICHARDSON spokeswoman, Save Our Old Town Campaign

WORLD Heritage status is awarded on consideration by the World Heritage Committee (a committee of member nations of Unesco) on the recommendation of the International Commission on Monuments and Sites. Nominations are put forward by national governments (in this case the UK government), often at the suggestion of a national institution (in this case, the City of Edinburgh Council). The World Heritage Centre is an admin body for the UN World Heritage Convention, to which the UK is a signatory.

Unesco was formed in a spirit of encouraging international understanding and peace, through co-operation in the realm of education, science and culture. World Heritage Sites are an important part of this, encouraging nations to understand the values that they share with others across the globe: what Edinburgh and, say, Peru's Machu Picchu have in common may not be obvious immediately, but then you begin to understand how another culture produced – or came to value – a site, and realise that how they value that place is not very different from us.

To say World Heritage Status is irrelevant to Edinburgh is to say that Edinburgh has no relevance to the rest of humanity and, if removed, that its outstanding universal value has been significantly reduced. At present, the site remains of huge international significance and interest – key to this is its juxtaposition of the organic medieval Old Town and the carefully planned and designed 18th and 19th century New Town. Those calling on World Heritage Status to be dropped, or just ignored, need to open their minds, and perhaps also their hearts, to everything that makes Edinburgh special."

Monday, 17 November 2008

Council Spin on UNESCO Visit

Good piece of reporting here STV Video Here 17th November 2008

Edinburgh councillors claim they have been given assurance that the city's world heritage status is safe, following a visit from Unesco officials last week. But campaigners fighting the capital's most controversial developments have dismissed the announcement as premature and potentially dangerous. Unesco officials are alleged to have referred to Edinburgh during their three day visit last week as a city with heritage at its heart. Councillors are now content that the capital's World Heritage status is secure, and that all its contentious developments - other than a Haymarket Hotel

Royal Mile in Edinburgh- have been given the cautious thumbs up. But there are many who feel that Edinburgh Council is both missing the point and jumping the gun. The Unesco report on the city will not actually be published until early next year, and only then can we be certain about its contents. At any rate, Edinburgh's World Heritage status largely recognises bricks and mortar more than living, breathing communities. Some of these communities are demanding an end to what they see as council spin. Change is afoot for Edinburgh's world famous cityscape. To the south, Caltongate and SoCo are

Controversy over Caltongate planset to alter the face of the Old Town. To the north, the soaring towers of the Western Harbour project dominate the waterfront. To the west the brutalist St James Centre is set to be replaced by a development many feel could not be any worse. But it is not just the look of these buildings, it is their make-up, their inhabitants and their influence on their surroundings that need to be considered. No matter what Unesco decides, the council is still under immense pressure to approve the sort of heritage that future generations will want to inherit.
BBC Coverage

Sunday, 16 November 2008

UNESCO delegation and what does it mean?

Professor Manfred Wehdorn from ICMOS ponders Edinburgh's planning process

Gosh last week was a busy week for the Conservation Mafia and the Save Our Old Townies, the Independent Republic has tried it's best to keep those who read the blog up to date. And there are just so many articles to follow. The Canongate's Sally Richardson is in the Sunday Herald today - you can see the photo on page 20 if you buy the real thing or otherwise read it here You can read what the Guardian says here

Dr Mechthild Rossler of the Unesco World Heritage Centre, and Professor Manfred Wehdorn of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, met many officals, developers, conservationists and campaigners in regards to Caltongate, St james Centre, Haymarket and Leith Docks development.

Dr Mechthild Rossler who visited from UNESCO

Dr Mechthild Rossler said "'The World Heritage Committee was concerned that the Caltongate development was approved prior to the committee looking at it more closely. That's why the mission was ordered,'

'I think we got a really good insight into the issues connected with the development projects we looked at. We also looked at the overall state of conservation which is absolutely fine. On behalf of Professor Wehdorn and myself, I can assure you that Edinburgh is not in danger of losing World Heritage status.'

It is important that those interested in the World Heritage don't see that UNESCO are the Mafiosi given diktats about what they think or say - only one heritage site has ever had it's status taken off it and that was when a bird sanctuary came up against an oil field, the government felt the oil field was more important than the bird sanctuary and could not protect it's "outstanding universal values" - alongside UNESCO it was agreed that it was no longer a world heritage site. Where issues are raised UNESCO alongside the State Party try their best to sort out their problems in partnership - this has happened throughout the world, and this is what we hope will happen in Edinburgh. Of course they are not here to take away the World Heritage Status, they were here to see if Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK are committed to protecting the "Outstanding Universal Values" of the World Heritage Sites, and what support Edinburgh may need to protect these values if they are not doing it anyway, see here .

We hope Dr Rossler and Professor Wehdorn got a good view of the city and have lots to think about. The Independent Republic does not want the World Heritage Status to be taken away as we would see that as a disaster and a red flag to developers to develop, develop, develop! We look forward to Rossler and Wehdorn's report - one way or other.

Professor Herb Stovel, Canadian member of UNESCO

Professor Herb Stovel did a fascinating lecture for the Cockburn Association about Edinburgh and it's OUtstanding Universal Values last month which the Independent Republic commented on- check that out here

World Heritage - Prof Stovel podcast can be heard here

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Welcome to Brent`s Edinburgh

Edinburgh`s head of urban design and tipped to be the man for the whole of Scotland gives the thumbs up to some of the recent awe inspiring designs, some already up and making life worth living.

Council Headquarters, said to be the inspiration for its new next door neighbour Caltongate.

Early model of Caltongate to wet the appetite....

The square, which will be a fantastic windtunnel

The groundbreaking Caltongate Hotel or Barlinnie as its commonly referred to.

Malcolm Frasers builing for Jeffrey St aka"Block the view"

University Informatics Building

Haymarket Horror Hotel

Friday, 14 November 2008


It has been brought to the Republic`s attention that someone or some people have been out calling on UNESCO`s help by leaving messages on the boardings around the empty bus depot site.

The UNESCO delegation leaves Edinburgh tomorrow.

Planning Convenor Jim Lowrie in The Scotsman today

Haymarket Horror Called In!

Now why not Caltongate????

and finally HAPPY 60th BIRTHDAY Charles, like us here in the Republic he gets stick for daring to speak up and question the sometimes egotistical architecture of present and recent times ....and the mindless race to make all cities the same.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


View from Regent Road with now demolished bus depot, and at risk Canongate Venture, with Canongate Tenements Morrocco Land in background

Below is a comment from one of the UNESCO delegation in an article in The Scotsman today
Dr Rössler, who is accompanied by Professor Manfred Wehdorn, of the International Council on Monuments, in Edinburgh this week, said: "We are well aware of the strength of the debate in Edinburgh. We have received hundreds of letters and the arguments have been very passionate.
See some of that passion here
Edinburgh Our Beautiful City On Youtube

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

UNESCO In Edinburgh

Catch up with todays national and local coverage -Radio Scotland coverage begins at 1 hour 55 mins

It was covered on BBC One`s Breakfast a live broadcast with Sally Richardson of Save Our Old Town campaign and Architect Neil Baxter

Then on the UK wide One O`clock News BBC TV UK News then on Reporting Scotland no link yet

Unesco reviews Edinburgh's status

Two Unesco inspectors are arriving in Edinburgh to consider the city's World Heritage status.
The UN's cultural body is considering withdrawing the title, which it awarded in 1995, after the council passed some controversial planning applications.
Unesco is concerned about major new builds, including the Caltongate in the old town and the redevelopment of the St James shopping centre.

The representatives will spend three days touring the developments.
Unesco advisor Professor Manfred Wehdorn arrived on Wednesday morning at Edinburgh Castle for his first meeting.

Dr Mechtild Rossler, Unesco head of Europe and North America, is due to arrive in the city later on Wednesday.

Neil Baxter, secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that he was concerned with Unesco's potential power over Scotland's planning process.

City's story

He said: "The idea of Unesco coming to visit and perhaps issue edicts is very worrying in terms of the planning process and due governance of Scotland by Scottish people.
"The planning system comes from government through to the local authorities and the controls are there.
"We shouldn't be stymieing development. If we'd done that in the past we wouldn't have all the good stuff Unesco wants to protect."

Sally Richardson, of the Save Our Old Town Campaign, said when the city had applied for World Heritage status 13 years ago it had signed up to Unesco's criteria for protecting and enhancing.
"We welcome Unesco's visit - they're coming here to offer international experience," she said.
"We're not fighting against development; we're fighting for the right development.
"My children and the children of the Royal Mile Primary School will see buildings on their street demolished to make way for retail-led development that's not going to add to the story of their city."

Delegates are to meet at Seville's 2009 Unesco summit in the summer to discuss the findings.

Edinburgh City Council leader Jenny Dawe said: "I am extremely proud of Edinburgh's World Heritage status and our beautiful architecture, which attracts people to live,
visit, study and invest in Edinburgh.

"We are also a living city that is continuously evolving with all new developments scrutinised and receiving fair appraisal.
"I believe that heritage and development both contribute to the fantastic quality of life that Edinburgh offers."

The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh were awarded world heritage status because of the unique contrast and quality of architecture between the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/11/12 10:30:32 GMT© BBC MMVIII

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

UNESCO Mission

This excellent cartoon by Frank Boyle appeared in The Evening News on Thursday 28th August 2008, the day after Olympic Gold Medalist Chris Holmes received a homecoming welcome down The Royal Mile and councillors rubberstamped Caltongate once more.

Do check for latest on UNESCO Mission which begins tomorrow.

Back later today with more news.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Quotes on World Heritage Status

Above First Minister Alex Salmond & Minister Linda Fabiani

Who Has Said What -

The First Minister said: “From the Firth of Forth to the Clyde, the Antonine Wall marks the point where the tide turned for the Roman Empire in Scotland. Built by Hadrian’s successor, Emperor Antoninus Pius, it is the furthest frontier and a testament to design and ambition – attributes that echo throughout Scottish history.

With this wall added to Scotland’s collection of internationally recognised historic sites, Scotland can be hugely proud that so much of our heritage is recognised not only for its impact on our own evolution and identity but for its contribution to the World.

“Next year, with the Scotland’s Year of Homecoming, we have an opportunity to celebrate that contribution. The opening of the Antonine Wall Centre at the Hunterian Museum in 2009 will be a great addition to the cultural experience on offer and I hope that the newly achieved status of our great wall might even inspire returning friends and family to walk the Antonine Way!” Historic Scotland

Commenting on World Heritage Day in 2008, Linda Fabiani the Scottish Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture stated: "We can... take the opportunity to reflect upon the contribution of our own World Heritage sites and their place in the global story of humanity. We can celebrate, with justified pride, Scotland's contribution".[2] More Here

The leader of the City of Edinburgh Council Jenny Dawe said: “Edinburgh has a rich architectural heritage and is proud of its city centre UNESCO World Heritage Site status. We do not want to see that status compromised”.

She went on to quote Renzo Piano, the Italian architect who designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Talking about designing new architecture in historic environments he said:
When you work in a historical city centre, instead of worrying about the lack of freedom you should be grateful for the restrictions. Creativity doesn’t need freedom, it needs rules.”

Why invest in Edinburgh?


Edinburgh is Scotland's capital city,
home of the Scottish Parliament
and the consulate core.
Edinburgh is the world's festival city,
a World Heritage Site,
the world's first UNESCO City of Literature,
a leading international financial centre,
a recognised 'Ideopolis' of knowledge
and is renowned worldwide for innovation and cultural excellence

Friday, 7 November 2008

What is A World Heritage Site?

Well, someone has been doing their homework!
The Big Question:

What is a World Heritage Site, and does the accolade make a difference?
By Paul Vallely The Independent Friday, 7 November 2008

Why are we asking this now?

A United Nations team is about to visit Bath to decide whether the city still deserves the accolade of a World Heritage Site. There are 28 such sites in Britain but Bath is the only entire city to be listed.

But the heritage police are worried. They originally called Bath "a city that is harmonious and logical, in concord with its natural environment and extremely beautiful". But now they fear this might be spoiled by a new development to which the city council's planning committee has given outline permission. It will add 2,200 houses with shops, a school and a park right next to the River Avon. Some of the buildings are nine storeys high.

Enthusiasts for the scheme attack those who would keep Bath as "a city in aspic" and worry that the whole project may be at risk if the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), which grants world heritage status, disapproves.

What kind of places are given the accolade?

Anything from a city to an individual building, monument, area, forest, mountain, desert or lake. There are currently 878 world heritage sites which include 678 listed for cultural reasons and 174 lauded as wonders of nature. These include the Great Barrier Reef, the Serengeti Desert, the Pyramids of Giza, the Statue of Liberty, the Great Wall of China, Mount Kenya, Edinburgh's Old and New Towns, Hadrian's Wall, Stonehenge, Memphis and its Necropolis, Persepolis, the Palace of Westminster, the centre of St Petersburg, the Banaue rice terraces in the Philippines and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station in Mumbai. The country with the biggest number of sites is Italy, which has 43.

Great Barrier Reef

How did the idea begin?

In 1954, the desert valley containing the twin Abu Simbel temples – which were carved out of a mountainside in southern Egypt in the 13th century BC on the orders of the Pharaoh Ramesses II – were about to be flooded by the building of the Aswan Dam. Frustrated by the Egyptian government's lack of action to protect the ancient buildings, Unesco launched a worldwide campaign that saved the temples by relocating them to higher ground at a cost of $80m, half of it collected from 50 countries.
The project was such a success that Unesco campaigns followed to save Venice and the ruins of one of the world's earliest urban settlements, Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan's Indus Valley, as well as the largest Buddhist structure in existence, the Borobodur temple compounds in Java, Indonesia.

Who decides whether heritage status is granted?

The Unesco World Heritage Committee, which is elected by nation states every four years. It meets once a year to choose the world's natural or human-made wonders in the greatest need of protection. Any country is eligible to send in a list of nominees for protection.
This year, the committee met in Quebec City, Canada, and added an extra 27 places across the globe to its list of "endangered species". Among them were more than 100 monumental tombs at Al-Hijr in Saudi Arabia, built by the Nabataean people between the first century BC and AD100. Another was the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, where one billion butterflies overwinter each year. The committee also added the island of Surtsey, which appeared 20 miles south of Iceland as a result of volcanic eruptions between 1963 and 1967, and is a pristine natural laboratory for the study of plant and animal colonisation.

What are the criteria for inclusion in the list?

Each site must meet at least one of 10 criteria. They must represent a "masterpiece of human creative genius", be "an important interchange of human values" or "bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to civilisation" past or present. Or they can be an outstanding example of a type of building or settlement which illustrates a significant stage in human history. They can "contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance", or be outstanding examples of major stages of Earth's history or ecological and biological processes in evolution. Sites can also house threatened species "of outstanding universal value".

How political is the choice?

Well, just nine per cent of the world heritage sites are in Africa and seven per cent in Arab countries, compared with 50 per cent in Europe and North America. This does suggest a certain cultural bias, but there are other political considerations. The US, whose government saw Unesco as a stalking horse for Communist and Third World countries to attack the West throughout the 1980s and 1990s, has refused to propose any new heritage sites since 1995. In that year, plans to open a gold mine near Yellowstone Park in Wyoming got the area placed on Unesco's "world heritage in danger" list. Conservatives in Washington decided that the scheme was an undercover attempt to subvert America's rights to govern itself and to destroy the fabric of US sovereignty.

Have there been any other controversies surrounding the scheme?

Pressure groups use world heritage status as a lever in political battles. In Australia, a group of Aborigines teamed up with environmentalists in a dispute over a uranium mine in the middle of the Kakadu National Park, a World Heritage Site which is home to hundreds of species of wildlife and is one of the country's oldest places of human occupation, dating back 60,000 years. Unesco called on ministers in Canberra to put a stop to the mining project, but the government hit backing, saying Unesco's report contained errors of fact, law, science and logic.
There was a similar row over a controversial hydroelectric dam project in La Amistad International Park, a world heritage-designated site which straddles Panama and Costa Rica and is Central America's largest and most diverse virgin rainforest.

What are the benefits?

Listed places receive extra media attention and tourists. That brings extra money in addition to cash from Unesco's preservation fund, though only developing countries can apply for the grants. Britain contributes £130,000 to the fund every year but gets nothing back, although world heritage status can attract extra funding from the national lottery and the private sector.
Publicity can help. Two 150ft statues of Buddha carved into a mountain in the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan in the 6th century, and which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, have received more than $4m from Unesco to help with the re-sculpting of the damaged stones.

And the disadvantages?

Listed places receive extra media attention and tourists. The higher profile that listing brings can draw an influx of visitors that poorer countries cannot handle. Fore example, the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia, the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu in Peru have all seen massive increases in tourism. Sometimes listing does more harm than good and upsets the delicate balance between promoting places and preserving them.

Does it help to have World Heritage status?
* It brings extra funds to poor countries to help conserve places of universal value
* It draws attention to the world's most neglected treasures and places of historic interest or natural beauty
* It can save places from total destruction by natural or human forces

* It brings in floods of extra tourists whose footprint can do more harm than good
* It can have the effect of preserving a living place in aspic and stifling innovation
* It can undermine a country's right to make decisions about its own heritage
Related Articles
Development puts Bath's UN heritage status at risk
Well its happening elsewhere, the blatent disregard for having World Heritage Status. The beautiful city of Bath is under threat of losing their status, at the hands of Property Developers Crest Nicolson whose PR firm appears to be none other than infamous PPS who are the spindoctors for Caltongate Developers, Mountgrange see PPSClientsRead the Icomosobjection to the Bath plans. It all sounds depressingly familiar doesn`t it? Unesco are the body responsible for World Heritage Sites. bathpreservationtrust and bathheritagewatchdog are doing their best to protect their citys` heritage.Here its the EdinburghWorldHeritageTrust and the CockburnAssociation along with concerned citizens.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Lesson no.2 in World Heritage Status

Today the UNESCO delegation are in the city of Bath BBC News and the lesson for all of us here in Edinburgh today is looking at what makes Edinburgh worthy of her World Heritage Status.

The World Heritage Committee ,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B.Add and WHC- 08/32.COM/INF.8B1.Add,

2. Adopts the following Statement of Significance for the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, United Kingdom:

Edinburgh has Outstanding Universal Values (OUVs) for the following reasons-

1. The remarkable juxtaposition of two clearly articulated urban planning phenomena. The contrast between the organic medieval Old Town and the planned Georgian New Town provides a clarity of urban structure unrivalled in Europe. The juxtaposition of these two distinctive townscapes, each of exceptional historic and architectural interest, which are linked across the landscape divide, the "great area" of Sir Walter Scott's Waverley Valley, by the urban viaduct, North Bridge, and by the Mound, creates the outstanding urban landscape.

2. The Old Town stretches along a high ridge from the Castle on its dramatically situated rock down to the Palace of Holyrood. Its form reflects the burgage plots of the Canongate, founded as an "abbatial burgh" dependent on the Abbey of Holyrood, and the national tradition of building tall on the narrow "tofts" or plots separated by lanes or "closes" which created some of the world's tallest buildings of their age, the dramatic, robust, and distinctive tenement buildings. It contains many 16th and 17th century merchants' and nobles' houses such as the early 17th century restored mansion house of Gladstone's Land which rises to six storeys, and important early public buildings such as the Canongate Tolbooth and St Giles Cathedral.

3. The Old Town is characterized by the survival of the little-altered medieval "fishbone" street pattern of narrow closes, wynds, and courts leading off the spine formed by the High Street, the broadest, longest street in the Old Town, with a sense of enclosed space derived from its width, the height of the buildings lining it, and the small scale of any breaks between them.

4. The New Town, constructed between 1767 and 1890 as a collection of seven new towns on the glacial plain to the north of the Old Town, is framed and articulated by an uncommonly high concentration of planned ensembles of ashlar-faced, world-class, neo-classical buildings, associated with renowned architects, including John and Robert Adam, Sir William Chambers, and William Playfair. Contained and integrated with the townscape are gardens, designed to take full advantage of the topography, while forming an extensive system of private and public open spaces. The New Town is integrated with large green spaces. It covers a very large area, is consistent to an unrivalled degree, and survives virtually intact.

5. Some of the finest public and commercial monuments of the New-classical revival in Europe survive in the city, reflecting its continuing status as the capital of Scotland since 1437, and a major centre of thought and learning in the 18th century Age of Enlightenment, with its close cultural and political links with mainland Europe.

6. The successive planned extensions from the first New Town, and the high quality of the architecture, set standards for Scotland and beyond, and exerted a major influence on the development of urban architecture and town planning throughout Europe.

7. The dramatic topography of the Old Town combined with the planned alignments of key buildings in both the Old and the New Town, results in spectacular views and panoramas and an iconic skyline.

8. The renewal and revival of the Old Town in the late 19th century, and the adaptation of the distinctive Baronial style of building for use in an urban environment, influenced the development of conservation policies for urban environments.

9. Edinburgh retains most of its significant buildings and spaces in better condition than most other historic cities of comparable value.

The property was inscribed under the following criteria:

Criteria (ii) Exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time....on developments in architecture....monumental arts, town planning or landscape design.

The successive planned expansions of the New Town, and the high quality of its architecture, set standards for Scotland and beyond, and exerted a major influence on the development of urban architecture and town planning throughout Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Criterion (iv)Be an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural ensemble whcih illustrates a significant stage in human history.

: The Old and New Towns together form a dramatic reflection of significant changes in European urban planning, from the inward-looking, defensive, wall medieval city of royal palaces, abbeys, and organically developed small burgage plots in the Old Town, through the expansive format Enlightenment planning of the 18th and 19th centuries in the New Town, to the 19th century rediscovery and revival of the Old Town with its adaptation of a distinctive Baronial style of architecture in an urban setting.

3. Recommends that assessment for statements of authenticity and integrity / statements of protection and management should be postponed to the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee (2009) awaiting adoption of a methodology and an agreed format for Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for inscribed properties.

See More on UNESCO website.

Read what ICOMOS UK thinks the risks are from Caltongate to the OUVs of the World Heritage Site in Edinburgh

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

A Lesson in World Heritage Status

Its time to swot up, as the UNESCO DELEGATION is visiting the capital next Thursday and Friday....
see for more details on visit.
The UK Government has signed the World Heritage Convention.

The UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) recommends potential World Heritage Sites to the World Heritage Committee via the World Heritage Centre.

WH Committee oversees nominations and state of sites, WH Centre is its body

The UK Government is a state party having signed the WH convention, DCMS being the relevant body.

Historic Scotland (on behalf of the Scottish Government) reports to DCMS which reports to the World Heritage Committee

Scottish Government Reports on Caltongate make interesting reading.

It becomes clear from reading them, what role Historic Scotland has played - the reports keep citing Historic Scotland as the government's advisers 'not objecting' and saying that the development will not affect World Heritage status - well, they know differently now.

The report also states -"Historic Scotland had also sought to ensure there was a clear economic case to justify the demolition of the Canongate Venture building, which was in reasonable condition. Independent assessment of that business case commissioned by Historic Scotland, has agreed that the loss of that listed building is justified by the public benefit arising from the development. Following the revisions to the plans which have addressed their concerns, Historic Scotland consider the scheme to be acceptable."

The reports also say several times there are no issues of 'national importance' which indicates that the government planners don't know the role of the 'state party' in the World Heritage legislation.

and the Royal Park Terrace and Spring Gardens Residents' Association
are amongst those who have criticised the proposals due to these impacts"
Gosh thats not many then??

That same report goes on to say
" Architecture and Design Scotland while not commenting on the building designs in detail, commended the mixed use approach of the development and made suggestions on materials and design approach. • Scottish Enterprise and Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce support the development."

"The pro-active role of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce in promoting the development Caltongate Developer Manish Chande is head of the Chamber`s property portfolio group and in the past in The Evening News Ron Hewitt of Chambers Roots For Caltongate "

Also they say in one letter that the pend to the hotel is at ground level only -though the latest scheme took the opening up into the first floor?

It is obvious that everyone has a lot of revision to do, and probably should admit their mistakes and get together around a table and sort out the mess.

Edinburgh and her World Class Heritage should be seen as the Jewel in her crown and the everlasting key to economic success for the city, not as an albatross around her neck, as her own council, Historic Scotland and the Scottish Government appear to believe.

Or it could become the sad story to tell our grandchildren of how we killed

the goose that laid the golden egg.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Obama says Yes to Canongate - No to Caltongate!

Obama Barack chose the Canongate, he really did - he choose to have Canongate Books publish his book, - Dreams From My Father. Out of all the publishing companies in the world he chose to come to the Canongate, he recognised the unique qualities of the Canongate, its outstanding universal value in the World Heritage Site. Not only that but the campaign in Scotland for Obama Barack was based in the Canongate.

Watch video on YouTube

A little birdie also has told us that should Obama be elected as President he wants to visit the Canongate.

Obama today when asked about the Canongate said " I sure wanna see that Canongate, that has been so supportive to me........I hear that ruthless developers wanna destroy that beautiful Canongate and replace it with an American style mall. Malls are a good idea for America but ain't a good idea because a shopping mall in a World Heritage Site doesn't seem a good idea to me."