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Protecting Edinburgh’s Built Heritage: Residents’ Views Sought on Challenges of Adapting Properties to Combat Climate Change

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People who own listed buildings or properties in conservation areas are being asked by the City of Edinburgh Council to give their views on the challenges they face when trying to maintain, repair and adapt their historic homes in response to climate change and the cost of living crisis. 

A ten-week online consultation begins today (Friday, 31 March) to gather residents’ views on their experiences when adapting their properties to make them more energy efficient and protect against any flood risk.

The survey includes questions about the size and age of properties. What kind of issues have been experienced – from mould to roof repairs, poor ventilation and drainage issues. It asks what kind of work has been carried out and what kind of barriers homeowners have experienced when trying to carry out work. There are also questions about the Council’s current planning guidelines and the impact of climate change.

Feedback from the consultation will be considered by a short-term working group being established to discuss these challenges as well as any possible solutions. It will look at what can be done in the short and longer term and how any changes to planning guidance might adversely impact our built heritage.  

The group will be made up of residents, planning officers and councillors as well as relevant bodies with an interest in the historic environment, energy saving or fuel poverty. 

The consultation follows a motion by Cllr Hal Osler to the Planning Committee in November last year. A report with analysis of the consultation responses and the conclusions of the short-term working group including proposed next steps will be considered by the Planning Committee later this year.

In Edinburgh we have an ambitious target to be net zero by 2030. We recognise that to make this happen we need to make sure that all homes are well insulated and energy efficient. The cost of living crisis is also making this need more urgent as many people are struggling to afford essentials such as heating, food and rent. 

As well as making sure we meet our net zero target, as a local authority we also have a responsibility along with our partners Edinburgh World Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland to protect our internationally renowned built heritage, particularly in conversation areas and the Old and New Towns World Heritage Site. 

We recognise that people who live in and own their own property in these areas face additional challenges as our current planning guidance has more restrictions on how a property can be adapted and which materials can be used. Making that guidance more flexible could impact our built heritage and this consultation seeks to look at how we can strike a balance between addressing climate change and protecting Edinburgh’s historic environment.

Cllr James Dalgleish Planning Convener

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