Celebrating our rich history on World Heritage Day - James Dalgleish

This week we mark World Heritage Day and we’re celebrating our fantastic two sites in the Capital.

They are Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site in the city centre, and the Forth Bridge which connects our railway with Fife, more recently awarded this status from UNESCO in 2015.

World Heritage Sites must have strong and robust management plans in place to keep their Outstanding Universal Value. This is what makes them of worldwide importance. This must be preserved and enhanced for future generations to come.

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Our city centre World Heritage Site, awarded by UNESCO in 1995, is managed by us in partnership with Edinburgh World Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland and we’re putting together our next management plan to get your views. So, look out for the chance to comment on that in the coming months.

The organic medieval Old Town and the planned Georgian New Town includes the city’s iconic skyline and offers a rich contrast of styles between the Old Town’s narrow, winding closes and the broad, elegant streets of the Georgian New Town. It has around 4500 individual buildings and around 23,000 residents live there. It’s important we balance the needs of our residents with vital preservation and conservation work we carry out each year with our partners to make sure the site can be enjoyed by everyone including the visitors the area attracts from all over the world for generations to come.

An example of this is as issues such as climate change affect us all we must balance the needs of our residents with the bigger picture as we work towards Edinburgh becoming net zero by 2030.

If you’re a home-owner living in the World Heritage Site or a conservation area and you are worried about your energy bills and climate change we’re running a survey for you. We’re asking for your experiences making your home more energy efficient and protecting it against any flood risk. You will find more information on the consultation hub on our website or you can pop into your local library and fill out our survey there.

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To mark the day, our partner Edinburgh World Heritage is also hosting a special event this week with Sir Geoff Palmer, chair of the Edinburgh Slavery and Colonialism Legacy Review Group.

The Review Group made ten recommendations about how the city should understand and acknowledge the legacy of slavery and colonialism. One of these recommendations was that statues, monuments, buildings and street names associated with slavery and colonialism in Edinburgh should be retained and re-presented, using a new interpretation strategy.

And for our younger residents Historic Environment Scotland have Auld Reekie handling boxes being used in our schools with replica and original objects that tell us about life in Edinburgh before, and during the 18th century.

This was a time of real change in Edinburgh and can tell the story of our World Heritage Site.

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I’d encourage you if you can to use this week to go out and explore and/or go online to find out more about Edinburgh’s rich heritage and our Old and New Towns World Heritage Sites and the Forth Bridge no matter where you live.

Cllr James Dalgleish Planning Convener at the City of Edinburgh Council