Action plan launched for Edinburgh World Heritage Site

An action plan to promote and protect the iconic status of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site will be launched this week.

The plan has been developed by the Edinburgh World Heritage Site Steering Group which consists of the City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh World Heritage and Historic Scotland.

It follows on from the publication of a five year management plan which identifies the outstanding universal values that make Edinburgh of global significance, and provides a framework for the conservation and enhancement of the site.

Extensive consultation with interested groups and communities has taken place over the past six months and their comments have been incorporated into the final plan.

The new vision for the World Heritage Site is to safeguard, sustain and enhance the outstanding historic environment that supports a confident and thriving capital city centre, its communities, its businesses, and its cultural and economic life.

The plan will be presented to the City of Edinburgh Council's Planning Committee on Thursday 1 March for approval.

Some of the key actions and priorities for the World Heritage Site include:  

  • Reviewing signage to identify and interpret the site, driving forward the public profile and accessibility through themed campaigns/projects, promoting a smart phone application and encouraging businesses to promote the site
  • Working with community organisations to develop projects to encourage wider involvement and understanding especially among young people
  • Ongoing safeguarding of the site through conservation grants, restoring monuments and promoting high quality architecture and design
  • Ensure the WHS is part of a sustainable city centre by reducing the impact of traffic, delivering affordable housing and improving the quality of public realm
  • Regularly review progress of the action plan

City of Edinburgh Council Planning Leader, Councillor Jim Lowrie, said: "This action plan sets out how the Council and its partners will conserve and promote all the different elements that make the city one of the most iconic in the world.

"Edinburgh's World Heritage Site status is extremely important to the city as illustrated by Tripadvisor users last year who voted it the fifth most recommended site in the world.

"So this focussing of resources in the Old and New Town areas will ensure that the internationally-renowned appeal of Scotland's capital city will continue to be enjoyed by future generations."

Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: "The World Heritage Site is crucial to the success of Edinburgh, attracting over 4 million visitors a year, as well as supporting the city's excellent quality of life and encouraging inward investment.

"This Action Plan lays out the key priorities for the next five years, to ensure we conserve, promote and enhance the site effectively. We look forward to working with our many colleagues, partners and community groups across the site and wider in implementing this plan."

Miles Oglethorpe, Historic Scotland Head of International Policy, said: "As a continually evolving, living city, Edinburgh is a challenging World Heritage Site to manage. In this respect, it is vital that its World Heritage designation is given due consideration in the many decisions taken that impact upon the city.

"The action plan is a key document in ensuring this happens and will take forward the Management Plan which was launched last year. It will allow the partners and stakeholders to focus on the key projects that are needed to ensure the continuing protection, conservation and promotion of the World Heritage Site.

"We look forward to supporting the implementation of the Action Plan through continued collaboration with our partners at City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh World Heritage."

Additional information:

1) The Old and New Towns were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1995. The World Heritage Committee said that the Edinburgh Old and New Towns "represent a remarkable blend of two urban phenomena: organic medieval growth and 18th and 19th century town planning."

2) In March last year a survey of 34,000 Tripadvisor users placed Edinburgh as the most recommended UK World Heritage Site. In October 2010 a survey of 250,000 Tripadvisor users placed Edinburgh as fifth most recommended World Heritage Site.

3) Within the boundary of the site over 75% of the buildings are listed, including 656 at category A. The Old and New Towns are also very well preserved, and for over 30 years have been carefully repaired using traditional materials to maintain their authenticity.

4) The World Heritage Site is a vital part of the city's appeal to tourists. In the latest Edinburgh Visitor Survey, 71% said that they visited the city because of its heritage. It also provides a high quality of life for Edinburgh's residents.

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