Response by society

Tantallon CastleIt Comment on this pageis important to safeguard the built heritage while promoting an understanding of the positive role it can play in the maintenance, development and regeneration of communities, their culture and economy. The protection of the historic environment is not about preventing change. Change should be managed intelligently and with understanding to achieve the best outcome for the historic environment and for the people of Scotland.

The key responses to the pressures set out previously are:

1. To enhance and improve legislation, policy, and advice and guidance.

  • the Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill tackles some long-standing practical issues relating to the care and management of Scotland's historic environment. The Act provides a much-improved legislative tool-kit for those working on the front line. It improves the ability of owners, tenants, business, the voluntary sector and the regulatory authorities to manage the historic environment;
  • the Scottish Historic Environment Policy (SHEP) sets out Scottish Ministers' policies, providing direction for Historic Scotland and a policy framework that informs the work of a wide range of public sector organisations;
  • public consultation on an Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland was carried out in the summer of 2013. The Strategy, which will be published in early 2014, will set out a vision and strategic priorities for the historic environment in Scotland;
  • Historic Scotland publishes guidance on the management of change for use by planning authorities and other interested parties; and guides for owners.

2. To promote and support planning processes that protect the quality of the historic environment and enable sustainable economic growth.

The planning process provides much of the balance needed to manage change in the historic environment. Many developments do not have a significant impact on the historic environment but, when they do, historic environment concerns must be taken account of. A local authority may impose a condition on a development to safeguard the historic environment and, in rare instances, may refuse a planning application.  Scottish Government Planning Performance Statistics are available from the Scottish Government website.

  • local authorities decided 39,826 planning applications in 2011/12. In reaching a decision in each case, the needs and interests of the historic environment will have been considered;
  • listed building consent (LBC) must be obtained from the relevant planning authority to demolish, alter or extend a listed building in any way that affects its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest;
  • unlisted buildings in conservation areas have protection through conservation area consent (CAC). CAC is normally required before unlisted buildings in conservation areas can be demolished. Around 9% (3593 in 2011/2) of all planning consents involve LBC or CAC. Numbers of consents have been relatively constant since 2000/01 and around 90% are granted annually;
  • scheduled monument consent (SMC) is required from Scottish Ministers (through Historic Scotland) for any works that may impact on a scheduled monument. The protection of monuments and their setting is a material consideration in the determination of planning applications. Historic Scotland received 153 SMC applications in 2011/12 and 238 in 2010/11. All of these SMCs were granted, mostly with conditions to preserve historic significance.

3. Investment to improve the condition and understanding of the historic environment. 

  • private investment is the largest source of funding for the historic environment. Most assets are privately owned and the ability of private owners to invest sufficiently in the maintenance of historic buildings and places is crucial to the long-term management of the historic environment. Research produced in March 2013 by ECORYS, commissioned by Historic Scotland, suggests that the best current estimate of spend on historic building repair and maintenance (including historic industrial and commercial buildings and infrastructure) is £1.1 billion;
  • grants can provide a major stimulus to conserving built heritage, benefiting both communities and the general economy by generating work in the construction industry and supporting tourism. Between 2002 and 2012, Historic Scotland awarded grants of more than £123 million that assisted repairs worth over £563 million;
  • in 2011/12 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a total of £29.6 million in grants to 107 different heritage projects in Scotland, which reflects an increase on 2010/11 in both the total finance awarded and in the number of projects awarded a grant;
  • the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) figures show that in 2011/12, local authorities' net expenditure on heritage was £7.6 million;
  • the voluntary sector plays a vital role in caring for the historic environment in Scotland and each year spends money from grants and charitable donations. For example, in 2011/12 the National Trust for Scotland's total expenditure was £42.1 million.

4. Investment to support, develop and promote Scotland's traditional building skills and the use of traditional building materials.

  • skills training is integral to caring for the built environment, and takes a strategic approach in working with key industry and sector partners to further the needs of the traditional sector. Working in partnership with others to raise the profile of the sector, Historic Scotland has facilitated the development of new specialist vocational qualifications;
  • Historic Scotland has also launched A Traditional Building Health Check scheme in partnership with CITB-ConstructionSkills Scotland. This will see a scheme of independent inspections to identify issues with Traditional Buildings, that when addressed will stimulate the repair and maintenance market, through using appropriately skilled and qualified contractors to undertake any work identified;
  • more information on ongoing work to develop traditional construction skills in Scotand is available from Historic Scotland’s technical conservation knowledge base.

5. To ensure that the needs of the historic environment are reflected in flood prevention approaches.

  • SEPA’s National Flood Risk Assessment takes account of the likelihood of flooding from all sources, together with the potential impact of flooding on human health, economic activity, the environment and cultural heritage.

6. To encourage the development of management plans for heritage assets in order to ensure that change is well informed.

7. To ensure that accurate data are gathered, disseminated and used in decision making for the historic environment.