Forth Bridge on track to get protected view status

The Forth Bridge
The Forth Bridge
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The Forth Bridge will be given special protection from unsightly buildings that would spoil spectacular views of the landmark if it becomes a World Heritage Site, it has emerged.

Planners are set to beef up guidelines to prevent future developments compromising Edinburgh’s majestic skyline, with the historic railway crossing to be included among the safeguarded monuments if it gains Unesco status.

It has been recommended that the rules to preserve the cityscape should be incorporated into the Edinburgh Design Guidance, used to inform developers about restrictions to planning bids.

In May, the News reported that the Forth Bridge had emerged as a UK frontrunner for the sought-after award but would have to convince judges that the site can be protected.

This was boosted by the recent completion of a ten-year £200 million restoration.

Marion Williams, director of the Cockburn Association, said the heritage body backed efforts to award the structure World Heritage status, and protect views of it from being spoiled by future development.

“It’s extremely important to protect that view – important in terms of planning, visitors and tourism for the city,” she said. “It’s good planning and good for business in Edinburgh. It only takes one tower and that view is blocked.”

Ms Williams said it was “critical” that the city boosted its clear skyline guide but she added: “My concern is that the Scottish Government has been reviewing their planning policies, letting go of control and saying ‘let developers develop because that’s how we will get out of this economic grind.’

“I am worried that on appeal developers will get round skyline guidelines.”

Councillor Ian Perry, planning convener at Edinburgh City Council, said the protocols would help preserve the Capital’s horizon in years to come.

“Clearly there will be pressure in the future to build upwards like we have seen in other cities like London,” he said. “By setting out very 
specific guidelines, it makes it clear to developers what’s expected.

“The Forth Rail Bridge is one of the most iconic structures in Scotland and it’s vitally important that we protect it. We understand that discussions are not taken lightly by Unesco, but we would urge them to conclude their deliberations as soon as possible so as to offer maximum protection to the Forth Rail Bridge.”