Edinburgh’s heritage is under its greatest threat since the 1960s, according to a leading conservation architect.
James Simpson, who is a vice president of ICOMOS-UK, was speaking at an Edinburgh at Risk event in the capital on Saturday. He said: “The last Council administration in Edinburgh was well intentioned but it went too far in supporting developments that were too large or simply inappropriate.
“This is epitomised by the Caltongate proposal where the old bus garage site obviously needed to be developed. But the Council went too far when it extended the brief by including land in its own ownership in Market Street and actively promoted the demolition of listed buildings, one of which – the very handsome former New Street School, latterly the Canongate Venture – was Council owned. The City Council has a primary duty to protect listed buildings, not to promote their demolition.
“There is hope because the economy has now gone off the boil. This is a natural correction of the economy which gives us a breathing space. We need to use this to put the message across to the Council and to bodies like the Chamber of Commerce that the heritage interest is not opposed to development, only to bad and inappropriate development. Also that heritage and sustainability are closely aligned. As recent reports have shown, the most sustainable buildings are existing buildings.”
Speakers from several groups also addressed the event, including the Save Meadowbank Campaign.
Event organiser Sally Richardson, of The Canongate Project, was pleased at the turnout. She said: “Many more free events are planned over the next fortnight. Further detail is available at http://www.eh8.org.uk.”