Edinburgh to launch consultation on conservation areas planning

Thursday November 3rd 2022

Edinburgh City Deal

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Donald Turvill

Residents of Edinburgh’s conservation areas are to be asked their views on how the council can cut planning red tape to help make insulating homes easier amid the cost of living crisis.

Within the capital’s boundary there are 50 conservation areas, defined as places with ‘special architectural or historic interest’.

Those living in these protected zones are subject to tighter planning rules to control building work. That creates new problems however, making it difficult for people to improve insulation.

Lib Dem councillor Hal Osler tabled a motion calling for the consultation and told the committee she wants to “give people the ability to adapt their properties whilst also trying to maintain our built heritage.”

She added: “It’s pretty simple what I’m asking – it’s just that we get some residential input into really quite serious aspects that are hitting our residents which is cost of living, climate change, all sorts and how this is impacting individuals who live in conservation areas.”

Cllr Osler said a lot of people living in the city “don’t understand what is policy, and what is guidance”.

“All they understand is their window is leaking,” she said, “it’s costing them a fortune, they want to get it changed, how do they do it? – and what are the barriers to that?”

“At the end of the day [residents] are the guardians of this city and they are the ones that are tasked to upkeep our built heritage.”

She said a recent meeting with residents in the Colonies “was very very insightful”, adding they mentioned planning restrictions on replacing old windows.

“We get a lot of issues to do with windows,” she said.

Chief planning officer David Givan said: “Within Edinburgh the historic built environment is hugely important to the city but we also know that there are major issues in relation to climate change.

“I think we’re going to have to be in dialogue with people in the city around these kind of issues because we’ve got a duty to protect the historic built environment, but there are also other factors at play particularly in terms of climate change that we’re going to have to look at.”

A consultation agreed by the planning committee on yesterday will ask ‘what the challenges are for residents to adapt homes in such areas, what can be done (presently) to alleviate these, what needs to change to address those challenges, and the cost to our built Heritage of any changes’.

It will also seek feedback on challenges associated with changing properties to deal with the impacts of climate change, such as increased risk of floods.

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