As part of their year-long awareness raising campaign, Police Scotland highlight the dangers of building development to bats and badgers.

Brown long-eared stuck to fly paper
Brown long-eared stuck to fly paper

Brown long-eared stuck to fly paper © Daniel Hargreaves.

Police Scotland is running a year-long awareness raising campaign to tackle wildlife crime across the country.

Operation Wingspan, which started in October last year, focusses on each of the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) wildlife crime priorities in turn.

In February and March bat crime is being highlighted, while the previous phase referred to badger persecution.

One of the greatest threats to the wellbeing of bats and badgers is development such as construction, roof work and tree cutting. Such development, even if well intentioned, may be a criminal offence if these species or their homes are disturbed. As such Police Scotland Wildlife Crime Officers have been proactively visiting and surveying badger setts and bat roosts across Scotland that have been identified as at risk.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gary Cunningham, Police Scotland’s Wildlife Crime portfolio holder said:

“Police Scotland is committed to tackling wildlife crime and Operation Wingspan provides a platform to do that.

We have a rich natural environment in Scotland including badgers and bats, which are afforded legal protection. But that does not necessarily mean development or restoration cannot go ahead in locations where these species reside. There is often a solution that works for all parties. But it is crucial that anyone wishing to undertake such development follow correct procedures”.

Liz McLachlan, NatureScot Licensing Manager, said:

“It’s important that anyone wishing to undertake development that may disturb badger setts, bat roosts or any other protected species takes advice at the earliest opportunity.

“Our website has lots of really useful guidance to support developers to take forward proposed work where possible, while maintaining the welfare of protected species.”


Bats often roost in the roofs of old buildings, which can pose difficulties for those in the heritage sector.

Regulation 39(1) Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) Regulations 1994 makes it an offence for a person to deliberately or recklessly disturb a bat in a manner likely to impact on breeding, rearing young or population distribution.  Under this regulation it is also a strict liability offence to destroy or damage a bat roost, even if no bats are present.

If someone wishes to undertake development where a bat roost is present they should consult NatureScot (01463 725364 / or the Bat Conservation Trust first. These organisations might advise that a bat survey be undertaken by an ecologist to establish if a roost is present. Subject to the outcome of that report it may be necessary to apply for a license from NatureScot. These licences are available free of charge to enable most development works to go ahead while minimising the impact upon bats.

Contact NatureScot Licensing Team on 01463 725364 or

More information on bats and development can be found on the NatureScot and Bat Conservation Trust websites.


Section 2(1)(c) Protection of Badgers Act 1992 makes it an offence to Interfere with a badger sett. This includes damaging a sett, obstructing access or disturbing a badger while it is in the sett.

A spokesperson from Scottish Badgers said:

“As badgers live in underground structures, they are particularly sensitive and vulnerable to nearby construction. As soon as a sett is suspected to be within the footprint of any development, professional advice should be sought immediately. It is an offence to interfere with or damage an active sett in any way, and licences through NatureScot while available, do come with strict conditions that must be adhered to in order to remain legal”.

If someone wishes to undertake development which is within 30m of an active badger sett or they think may disturb a badger sett (pile driving or blasting), the process is very similar to that of bats, where early contact with NatureScot Licensing Team is advised, or alternatively advice may be sought from Scottish Badgers (



Hanneke Booij, PhD researcher at the University of Stirling, provides insights on Norway’s approach to heritage policy.

Hanneke Booij is a second year PhD student at the Centre of Environment, Heritage and Policy, University of Stirling, in collaboration with the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust. This PhD is funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities.

During the State of Heritage meeting organised by The BEFS on 4 February 2021, it was clear that many organisations are struggling with the economic and social consequences of the pandemic and are looking to explore new heritage futures. However, it can be difficult to think outside the proverbial box in a time of crisis. This prompted me to share a reflection on the recent Norwegian white paper on heritage (Meld. St. 16, 2020) to provide an insight into the Norwegian environmental perspective on heritage policy in the context of current societal challenges.

Scotland and Norway have experienced similar recent developments in the democratisation of heritage and an increase in community-based heritage policies. An increased awareness of social inequalities has led to a reconsideration of issues of representation, diversity, and social justice with both governments increasingly focusing on sustainability of heritage and society. Public funding in both countries has become more directly linked to societal benefits such as the current call by NLHF which prioritises wellbeing, inclusion, environmental sustainability, community activism, connection to place, and improvement of resilience in heritage organisations.

Norwegian heritage has been managed by Norway’s Ministry of Environment since 1972, along with nature management and physical planning, placing heritage firmly within landscape. Their physical community planning process includes a separately designed participation tool to give children and young people a voice in their local landscape. Responsibilities for heritage management have been in a process of decentralisation to county level since 2016 – 2017. The aim of decentralisation is to provide long term management of heritage within community and place to strengthen national policy and values. The heritage white paper 2020 introduces the term cultural environment as a new collective term, which includes cultural monuments, cultural environments, and landscapes. It emphasizes the importance of a holistic approach, aiming to make the connection to other climate and environmental policies clearer while also setting out to develop tools to measure how the cultural environment contributes to achieving the sustainable development goals. The paper presents three new national goals within the cultural environment policy: commitment, sustainability, and diversity. The white paper defines heritage as a common good and a societal resource.

Norway ratified the Faro Convention in 2008, emphasising the importance of people’s right to participate and the right to interpret the heritage of their choice. However, not only are heritage and culture participation defined as rights and heritage as a common good, they are also defined as a common responsibility for both the state and citizens, aiming for a high level of both inclusion and participation. Interestingly, another aim of decentralisation of heritage management is to improve collaboration with museums and the arts which are managed separately by the Ministry of Culture. The white paper stresses that collaboration between the cultural environment and museums and arts needs strengthening. In addition, it highlights that decentralisation needs better resourcing to carry out their relatively new duties relating to the cultural environment.

Norway’s cultural environment policy presents heritage as a positive resource and an active tool for development which could be beneficial from a perspective of societal and community needs, place-based identities, and participation. It will be interesting to see how the policy division between the natural and physical cultural environment on the one hand, and intangible heritage and culture, including “stories, objects and action-based knowledge” (Meld. St. 16, 2020, p. 2) on the other hand, impacts on heritage, communities, heritage organisations, and the societal challenges they intend to address.

My PhD investigates resilient and sustainable futures for small heritage organisations. I aim to explore the Norwegian approach to heritage policy (subject to funding) by making use of the University of Stirling’s partnership with the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU). This will enable me to place resilience and sustainability in small heritage organisations in an international context and explore any mutual benefit.

For those who would like to read the Norwegian Heritage White Paper 2020 here are the links to the summary report, or the full version.




The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) is to appoint a Chief Executive.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) is to appoint a Chief Executive. The role, designed to support the profession at a time of significant change, will be based in Edinburgh at the RIAS headquarters.

Closing date for formal applications: 9am, Monday 1st March 2021.

Chief Executive


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BEFS held a well attended webinar on The State of Heritage 2021-22 last week with excellent contributions from leaders across the sector discussing the financial, employment and organisational outlook for this coming year. A summary report and comment on the event from BEFS Policy & Strategy Manager Ailsa Macfarlane is now available on our website here. The webinar included headline details from the Scottish Budget 2021-22 that have implications for the built environment and the funding of Historic Environment Scotland, also now available on this link.

BEFS, Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS), and greenspace scotland welcome the 40 organisations who will participate in the 18-month NLHF funded Business Support Programme, ‘Surviving to Thriving’ (StT). More details.

In June 2020 the Scottish Government launched an independent collaborative review of the progress and scope of the 2013 Town Centre Action Plan. The Review group was asked to build on the town centre first approach and develop a refreshed vision for Scotland’s towns and the means to achieve it. Scottish Towns centre action plan review group’s report has now been published here.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and Adaptation Scotland are working together on a range of projects. One of them is about identifying what climate data and information people need. Complete this short survey to help provide a snapshot of what climate data and information is needed to understand climate change.

The heritage sector is currently grappling with a changing landscape, not only in relation to the pandemic but also with regards to Brexit. It is within this context that we would recommend a recent webinar on Brexit, Data Protection and Heritage by Heritage Digital. The webinar provides a succinct overview of how Brexit effects our data protection policies and what heritage organisations should be looking out for.

As the initial consultation on Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) draws to a close, BEFS former Chair, Graeme Purves, compares approaches being taken by Wales and Scotland to highlight some strategic planning challenges in this week’s blog.


Consultation on Scottish skills requirements for energy efficiency, zero emissions and low carbon heating systems, microgeneration and heat networks for homes
Opened 5 Feb 2021 and closes 30 April 2021.

Heat in Buildings Strategy
Opened 5 Feb 2021 and closes 30 April 2021.

The Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme – Call for Evidence to Support Development of Future Programme
Opened 8 Feb 2021 and closes 30 April 2021.

Covid-19: Government support for charities – Call for evidence
You can submit evidence until Monday 8 March 2021.

Strengthening Scottish Charity Law Survey
Closes 19 Feb 2021.

National Planning Framework: Position Statement
Closes 19 Feb 2021.

New Build Heat Standard – Scoping Consultation
Closes 3 Mar 2021.

Mediation in Planning
Closes 12 Mar 2021.

Draft Public Engagement Strategy for Climate Change
Closes 17 Mar 2021.

Consultation Responses

Energy Efficient Scotland: Improving energy efficiency in owner-occupied homes. Analysis of responses to the public consultation exercise (SG 05/02/21)

Analysis of Responses to Consultation on the Draft Infrastructure Investment Plan 2021-22 to 2025-26 (SG 04/02/21)


A National Mission with Local Impact: Infrastructure Investment Plan for Scotland 2021-22 to 2025-26 (SG 04/02/21)

Investing for jobs: Capital Spending Review 2021-22 to 2025-26 (SG 04/02/210)

Legislative proposals to address impact of Scotland’s concentration of land ownership (SLC 04/02/21)

Environment and climate change: Climate Change Plan update (SG 04/02/21)

A New Future for Scotlands Town Centres (SG 03/02/21)

Scotland’s carbon footprint: 1998 – 2017 (SG 02/02/21)

SURF’s COVID Sector Connector Service Events Outcomes Paper (SURF 02/21)

Architecture & Design Scotland – 2020 Annual Review (A&DS 01/21)

Housing Needs of Minority Ethnic Groups: Evidence Review (SG 29/01/21)

Budget 2021-22: a budget for unprecedented times (SPICe 28/01/21)

Affordable Housing Supply Programme: process and procedures MHDGN 2020/02 (SG 28/01/21)

Historic England Annual Report and Accounts 2019-2020 (HE 25/01/21)

Written Submissions Received on the Impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s Culture and Tourism Sectors (CTEEAC 01/21)

Scottish Government News Releases

Reaching net zero (SG 05/02/21)

Plans to ensure all buildings in Scotland are warmer, more efficient and reach zero emissions by 2045 have been launched.

£33 billion investment in Scotland’s future (SG 04/02/21)
Significant capital investment in healthcare, education, transport and the environment over the next five years has been set out.

Scotland’s Carbon Footprint: 1998-2017 (SG 02/02/21)
This publication provides estimates of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions on a consumption basis; that is emissions that are associated with the spending of Scottish residents on goods and services, wherever in the world these emissions arise, together with emissions directly generated by Scottish households.

Budget to support net-zero transformation (SG 01/02/21)
The Scottish Government will invest a record £1.9 billion in tackling climate change and creating good, green jobs in 2021/22.

Rebuilding the economy (SG 01/02/21)
Supporting people into employment and equipping them with skills they need will be at the heart of the economic recovery, backed with £1.1 billion of investment under the proposed Scottish Budget 2021-22.

£11.6 billion for local councils (SG 01/02/21)
Details of how £11.6 billion of funding from the Scottish Government will be distributed to individual local authorities in 2021-22 have been published.

Scottish Budget 2021-22 (SG 28/01/21)
Significant new investment to drive economic recovery, bolster public services and support families underpins the Scottish Government’s spending and taxation plans for the coming year.

News Releases

Scottish Empty Homes Awards winners announced (SHN 03/02/21)
Aberdeen City Council, an Inverness-based building company, a community housing project in Dumfries & Galloway and a Fife Council officer were the winners in the 10th Scottish Empty Homes awards sponsored by Fraser & Fraser Genealogists and International Probate Researchers.

RTPI Scotland welcomes town centre review report (RTPI Scotland 03/02/21)
The Royal Town Planning Institute in Scotland has welcomed recognition in a government commissioned review that urban planning plays a crucial part in the revival of Scottish town centres.

New research will explore how public are interacting with collections online (MA 02/02/21)
Three research projects have received funding to explore how the public are engaging with heritage virtually during the pandemic and what lessons can be learnt for future digital provision in the sector.

HES welcomes grant in aid from Scottish Government budget (HES 29/01/21)
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has welcomed grant in aid funding of £75.9 million as part of the Scottish Government’s 2021-2022 Budget.

Vital role of planning missing from climate change plan, MSPs told (RTPI Scotland 27/01/21)
More consideration needs to be given to the location of new buildings in Scotland in the battle against climate change, says Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland.

Communities must be empowered to reimagine their neighbourhoods post-Covid (RTPI Scotland 26/01/21)
RTPI Scotland is calling on the Scottish government to provide support for communities to help them shape where they live in the wake of Covid-19.

New research will demonstrate benefit of culture and heritage to society (DCMS 21/01/21)
An ambitious new programme of research to improve decision making by valuing the benefits of our culture and heritage capital to society, announced today.

Opinion & Comment

20-minute neighbourhoods & Local Place Plans – new tools for a healthier, greener Scotland (Nick Wright 08/02/21)

Podcast: How Scotland’s construction industry is becoming more sustainable (The Scotsman 05/02/21)

Podcast: Stuccoed in Time (99% Invisible, Architecture 02/02/21)

Anybody home? Uncover your house history (EWH 19/01/21)

Parliamentary Questions & Answers

Questions marked with a triangle (?) are initiated by the Government in order to facilitate the provision of information to the Parliament.

Question S5W-34992: Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/02/2021
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on its Heat in Buildings Strategy.
Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (05/02/2021)

Question S5W-34233: Stuart McMillan, Greenock and Inverclyde, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/12/2020
To ask the Scottish Government when it will publish its Heat in Buildings Strategy.
Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (23/12/2020)


For the latest information about BEFS Members’ events see our events calendar.

Scotland’s Community Heritage Conversations 20/21: #3 Youth Empowerment
Date & time: Sat, February 13, 2021; 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM.
We are delighted to be able to announce the 3rd of our Community Heritage Conversations, which is a half-day event on Youth Engagement. It’s not a secret that young people are under-represented in terms of engagement with heritage. It’s an issue that our sector has been trying to tackle for many years. This session will look at how community heritage organisations are approaching youth engagement, and their efforts to involve young people in all aspects of heritage work.

“A New Future for Scotland’s Town Centres”, with Communities Secretary, Aileen Campbell MSP
Date & time: Thursday 18th February, 2.30-3.30pm.
Online: Zoom.
The Town Centre Action Plan Expert Review Group has published its report: ‘A New Future for Scotland’s Town Centres’. Following consultation across sectors and with the public, the report offers a vision for how Scotland’s town centres can play a central role in ensuring fairer, greener and healthier communities. Scotland’s Towns Partnership invites you to a webinar to present the report’s vision and recommendations, and examine next steps to put the enhanced policy direction for our towns into practice. We will hear from Communities Secretary, Aileen Campbell MSP, as well as Professor Leigh Sparks, who chaired the independent review group.

Mapping the City with Dr Christopher Fleet
Date & time: 6pm, Thursday 26th February 2021
Online: Zoom
Please join us for a fascinating evening as we explore the history of the World Heritage Site through the National Library of Scotland’s outstanding map collection, with Dr Christopher Fleet, Curator of Maps and author of ‘Mapping the City’, published by Birlinn. The National Library’s collection of Edinburgh city views and maps stretches back to the 17th century, and, seen together, they allow us to follow the development of the city from the time of Mary Queen of Scots to the present day.

Delivering More Homes and Better Places in Scotland
Date & time: Fri, 5 March 2021; 10:00 – 12:00.
Delivering more, high-quality homes and better places is fundamental to Scotland’s economic recovery from COVID-19. It is a cross-cutting thread that runs through the four themes of the NPF4 position statement: to plan for net-zero emissions, resilient communities, a wellbeing economy, and better, greener places. This webinar builds on recent research on new housing supply, design quality, land assembly and placemaking. A set of pre-recorded presentations summarises the findings from this research, while the three live panel discussions focus on the practicalities of delivery.

Your Career in Conservation
Dates & times: 22nd March – 24th March | 10:30am – 4:00pm.
Interested in a career focused on the historic built environment? Or learning more about how to improve your knowledge and expertise about conserving our built heritage? Join Glasgow City Heritage Trust for a three-day online conference looking at careers in conservation and take part in workshops on how to become conservation accredited. The conference is aimed at anyone working, or interested in working, within the building and heritage sectors, including architects, surveyors, conservators, engineers and consultants.

Connecting Nature Innovation Summit
Dates: 23-25 March.
From 23-25 March the Innovation Summit will bring together an international audience to explore how we shift to sustainable, greener cities that deliver for their citizens using nature-based solutions. It will share the learning from the community of cities involved in Connecting Nature and introduce the innovative tools and methods being developed through the project. This free event is co-hosted by greenspace scotland and Glasgow City Council, the full Connecting Nature Innovation Summit registration will open later in Feb 2021.

The See-Through House
Date & time: Monday 5th April 2021; 6:30pm.
Online: via Zoom.
We are delighted to have Shelly Klein discussing with Colin McLean and Simon Green her recently published book on life in the modernist house designed by Peter Womersley. Join Shelley Klein in conversation with photographer Colin McLean and architectural historian Simon Green as she discusses her recently published book, The See-Through House. The book is based on life in High Sunderland, her family home in the Borders, designed in 1957 on an open-plan grid with colourful glass panels by modernist architect Peter Womersley for Shelley’s father, textile designer Bernat Klein.


Webinar: Getting started with creating video content
Date & time: 16th February, 10:00 – 11:30am.
Want to make videos for your heritage organisation but not sure how to get started? Would you benefit from an overview of the equipment, software and some top tips for how to start making your own video content for websites and social media? Join Heritage Digital and Nick Street of Street Films for a webinar on getting started with creating video content – suitable for those looking to create videos using mobile phones and/or basic cameras. This workshop is FREE as part of the National Lottery Heritage Fund supported Heritage Digital programme.

Workshop: Creating cut-through videos
Dates & times: 24 Feb, 9:30-11:30am.
Join Nick Street of Street Films for a morning in-depth workshop on creating cut-through videos. Whilst the introductory webinar on 16th February will provide an overview and some top-tips, these half-day sessions will guide participants through how to gain confidence in making videos, with tools, storyboarding and rights management considered. There will also be chance for Q&A with Nick, an experienced video-maker for heritage organisations. This workshop is FREE as part of the National Lottery Heritage Fund supported Heritage Digital programme.

Free training for Community Councils – the Circular Economy and the planning system 
At the end of last year we announced our intention to run a number of training sessions on the circular economy and its relation to the planning system, in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland. We now have four confirmed dates. Each session will run for 1.5 – 2 hours. Please sign up for your preferred session via the links below or contact David Wood ( for more information.

IHBC CPD – Introducing Building Survey for Retrofit
Date & time: 29 Mar 2021 1pm-2pm.
Online: GoToWebinar.
John Edwards, IHBC Technical Panel Chair and Trustee, will introduce Building Survey for Retrofit.  Topics will include the following: The overall approach including the survey as part of the retrofit process; Competencies and equipment required; How condition affects performance; Examples of issues of particular importance and how to analyse them; Determining the suitability of types and levels of retrofit including materials; Making sure that heritage values are part of the process; Q&A at end.

The Need for Old Buildings to Breathe Re-Examined
Date & time: 27 April 2021.
This CPD session is aimed at experienced conservation professionals and practitioners. David Wiggins will examine the response of traditional solid masonry walls to moisture, probing the issue of the ‘breathability’ of old buildings. Sacrificial weathering will be unpacked as a process, and modern mortars critically evaluated for compatibility against hot-mixed lime mortars. Practical specification guidance will be given on lime mortar for exposed conditions.


Chief Executive
The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) is to appoint a Chief Executive. The role, designed to support the profession at a time of significant change, will be based in Edinburgh at the RIAS headquarters.
Closing date for formal applications: 9am, Monday 1st March 2021.


BEFS online webinar ‘The State of Heritage 2021-22’ held on 4th February 2021.

Continuing the CHERF series of events, BEFS held a well attended webinar on The State of Heritage 2021-22 with excellent contributions from leaders across the sector discussing the financial, employment and organisational outlook for this coming year. A summary report and comment on the event from BEFS Policy & Strategy Manager Ailsa Macfarlane is available below.

Download the full report here.

Chaired by Prof Ian Baxter, BEFS Vice Chair.

Sharing their organisational perspectives:

  • Caroline Clark, National Lottery Heritage Fund
  • Andrew Hopetoun, Historic Houses Scotland
  • Stuart Brooks, National Trust for Scotland
  • Eithne Ní Chonghaile, Museums Galleries Scotland
  • Alex Paterson, Historic Environment Scotland

Joining them for discussion:

  • Lucy Casot, Museums Galleries Scotland
  • Anna Leask, Napier University
  • Adam Jackson, Historic Environment Scotland
  • Alison Turnbull, Historic Environment Scotland

BEFS extend their thanks to all panellists – their insights, candour, and openness are appreciated; and to all those who attended and provided questions. The collaborative nature of these events is designed to enable the widest understanding of the place we collectively, and individually, find ourselves in during this challenging time. Seeking that knowledge understanding would not be possible without participation from across the sector.

Euan Leitch, BEFS opened, providing an update on the Scottish Government Budget in relation to the sector. BEFS have now provided an overview document of relevant details.

The sector was anticipating harsh and severe cuts, and whilst there are some cuts they appear more marginal than feared. Many areas have a similar budget to last year. Usually, the Budget comes with description of what is to be delivered, particularly by Agencies and Public Bodies. That detail has not been released yet (at time of event).

Caroline Clark, National Lottery Heritage Fund  Brought extensive information and sector context from NLHF’s work in 2020/2021. As an organisation they take a holistic approach to funding, across the breadth of heritage, as it’s perceived by applying organisations applying. In reaction to the pandemic, they moved from project funding to heritage emergency support funding – it was imperative to be able to fund where there was most need. This funding programme provided substantial sector information, analysis was provided in Evidence to the Culture Committee (evidence was also provided in those papers by Abbotsford Trust, HES and NTS).

Analysis of cashflows from bids (105 organisations were awarded £6.4M over summer 2020), assessed that there was a £24-29M financial gap for the sector for the end of financial year. This was most likely to be hitting revenue support due to Covid, the recapitalising of reserves was also a significant factor. Further in-depth interviews were carried out, these highlighted:

  • loss of volunteering
  • costs of social distancing measures
  • viability concerns though loss of revenue

NLHF  Small Grants programme is now live and insights from the 28 community organisations making  enquiries (£1.6M ask) suggests a focus on wellbeing, inclusion, and community activism in the world of heritage. This reflects the local connections to place that have been highlighted in this time of crisis.

Caroline reiterated the concerns raised to the Culture Committee around the need need to examine the Local Authority sector and the impact these financial challenges will be having on their culture infrastructure.

NLHF is seeing:

  • Real challenges for capital funding projects currently in delivery.
  • Strong shift to digital from some organisations – often those larger/more secure. Harder for smaller, community, and rural heritage sectors.
  • Loss of volunteers and volunteering activity continuing to be a significant issue.
  • Concern over the ending of furlough.
  • The health of the work force is also a real issue.
  • A lack of ‘head-space’ and ability for organisations to make strategic decisions
  • A moving picture, where collaboration and partnership will be pivotal to future sustainability
  • Anecdotally – Boards feel more risk averse; big change/large capital projects seem unlikely. Perhaps for 2-3 years as the effects of both Covid and Brexit reveal themselves more fully.

Difficult to forecast the future, NLHF main grant programmes are only just reopening. Applications will provide more insight for the ambitions of the sector.

NLHF is aware of the complexity of the picture,  the need for funders to stay agile and flexible; weighing up the support for those in delivery and facing challenges, with new programmes, and how best to support communities.

Caroline stressed the responsibility to listen and be responsive to sector need. Especially to remember to listen for the silences, the quiet slipping away as capacity dwindles in fragile organisations.

Andrew Hopetoun, Historic Houses Scotland  Reflected on the outlook, mindful that it is hard to strike a balance between the negative, and the agility and resilience of Members to adapt.

Historic Houses surveyed members in December 2020.  Members represent the largest collection of historic houses and gardens with 1500 property Members.  60% of Members usually open throughout the year,  with a third open for day visitors in the traditional way. The survey revealed:

  • 15% of those usually open, didn’t open at all in 2020
  • Scale of those who did open extremely reduced:
    • Less than a quarter of their usual season for 50% of properties
    • A third had only half a season
    • Only 10% managed something that looked relatively normal.
  • Membership reported 75% reduction in visitors
  • Turnover dropped to around 50%
  • Estimated losses across HH Members UK wide – £280M, with expectation this will rise.

Those were severe results across the Membership.

  • 50% of Members reported no support apart from the job retention/furlough scheme.
  • 2/3 of members reported no or minimal repairs and maintenance occurring.
    • Previously Scottish Membership reported a backlog of £60M of urgent repairs, this will have increased.

In the case of Hopetoun House, measures such as furlough, CBILS, and grants from HES & NLHF have helped to weather the crisis. There is still a six-figure impact on the business, difficult for any charity.

There were high points: Wondrous Woods – outdoor event drew 30K visitors from a wide spread of demographics – and importantly provided 100+ people with employment. Numbers meant that Hopetoun received over 50% of usual visitor numbers.

The HH Member survey suggested that when most properties would usually expect to open at Spring/Easter 2021, this season only 82% are planning to open. A positive point from respondents has been that paying visitors were more appreciative of the grounds and gave more feedback. Members are considering how their outdoor offering may change to reflect visitor responses.

Looking to the future, the current uncertainty remains difficult. Visit Scotland are attempting to promote tourism. Balance remains difficult to find: the risks is that we find ourselves with tourism promotion, overshadowed by safety measures which depress demand; or the opposite, that undercooked safety measures do not aid a sustained recovery, which is significantly worse. It is of note that UK Hospitality sees holiday bookings 90% down on last year.

Across HH about 13% of those 15,000 employed were made redundant in 2020. The survey also suggests same number at risk again this year. This helps to illustrate the devasting, personal, and multi-season impact which may be felt across so many parts of the sector.

Whilst Members are willing to act as necessary and remain adaptable, there are clouds of concern leading to nervousness and cautiousness – particularly for the events/wedding aspects of the sector, overnight accommodations (particularly with new implications from regulations and licences for short-term lets being agreed the Local Government Committee recently),  and access takers leading to some surges in bad behaviour and crime in some instances.

Like many, HH are actively lobbying for a heritage recovery plan. This includes such measures as: Extension of relief schemes; support for specific areas (eg – support for wedding sector was extremely welcome); and VAT parity/reduction.

Stuart Brooks, National Trust for Scotland Was honest about the catastrophic impacts for NTS. Giving a detailed overview of the far reaching pandemic effect on the organisation.

There were periodic closures of all built properties – challenges even assessing/maintaining/accessing more remote sites (St Kilda).

  • Countryside remained open, gardens first to re-open
  • 88% drop in visitor income
  • 60% drop in holiday cottage income
  • 72% down on total visitors -biggest impact from paying visitors and travel trade –countryside less impacted
  • 230 staff redundancies – most significant is the loss of colleagues (430 staff were at risk)
  • Cancellation or postponement of projects –maintenance & rural paths impacts
  • Projecting significant deficits for 2021 & 22

Visitor profiles changed, some completely – with Overseas Visitors – down to 1.3% from 24%. UK visitors (from both Scotland and England) rising significantly.

There were also some more positive outcomes.

It forced NTS to accelerate change

  • Membership has been loyal (10% down – but better outcome than expected)–invested in digital and other engagement
  • Members and public responded to emergency appeal – £3.5M –emphasised NTS charitable cause
  • Remote working has enhanced efficiency, improved communications and reduced carbon emissions
  • Visitor experience predominantly positive
  • NTS kept people safe (new protocols produced and implemented)
  • Bring forward strategic review
  • Positive response and financial support from Scottish Government – enabled reinstatement of some key projects

Able to consider the visitor experience during Covid.  91% very happy with visitor experience during Covid and almost 80% reported a similar or more positive experience due to Covid measures.

Overall the impacts for NTS are felt –

Across heritage:

  • Buildings maintenance & repairs delayed – hopefully short term
  • Gardens –potential weed legacy
  • Countryside –requirement for education and infrastructure investment if numbers sustain
  • Delayed investment –future impact

Across the charity:

  • Big measures – from catastrophic to manageable
  • Reserves depleted
  • Enhanced value and relevance
  • Better appreciation of charitable status and need for support
  • A platform that can be built on – optimistic outlook

Across our people:

  • Impacts on people is the hardest. Staff mental health is low and fatigue is setting in – this is the hardest aspect, especially with a tricky year in view.

The following detail was provided after the event due to time constraints on the day.

NTS Short term

  • Planning for partial income recovery and phased reopening (timing under threat/review)
  • Assumed domestic market permissible and willing
  • New 10 year strategic plan in development for 2022
  • Greater focus on dynamic risk management and contingency planning

Legacy for NTS

  • People’s value of access to greenspace and digital –align and promote social outcomes, including health
  • More efficient and climate friendly ways of working
  • Greater emphasis on partnership working
  • Resilience and relevance are totems

Issues on the Horizon

  • Planning in a period of extreme uncertainty
  • Short notice -easing of lockdown measures, any foreign market, knock-on from city based tourism
  • Absence of furlough and short notice -adds to risk of loading costs
  • Political uncertainty -Post Brexit and Scotland
  • Keeping our workforce safe –matching staff to vaccination programme
  • Mental health and fatigue

Eithne Ní Chonghaile, Museums Galleries Scotland  Strongly echoed what we’d heard – the challenges are still there. Many recovery schemes were designed prior to current restrictions and closures are now lasting longer,  and are deeper than might have been expected.

ASVA Survey – visitor numbers at Scottish attractions down 72% last year compared to previous year. And Museum & Galleries figures was down 77%. Peak of 160 Museums open in October 2020, from 440 potential sites. The reality is that most of the Museums sector faces full calendar year closed.

MGS is grateful for additional, sector funding support from the Scottish Government – MGS distributed 290 grants worth £5.8M supporting 200 museums last year.  With much of that funding coming from the £4M Recovery and Resilience Fund for independent museums.  £3.1M additional funding has recently released from Scottish Government and an additional second round of funding is now open.

With reduced visitor numbers and reduced visitor spend, as well as restrictions – many museums will still be unable to open should social distancing be in place.  Safe opening and adaptations has also had a financial impact and MGS has reopened its Covid Adaptation Fund.

Independent Museums and Galleries were a funding priority as it was an extremely hard hit part of the sector. But – emergency funding ends in June, the job retention scheme is due to end in April, and a lot of uncertainty remains. Tourism seems unlikely to recover this year and significant impacts on income continue. The uncertainty impacts on planning exhibitions and activity. Further revenue support will be necessary to ensure survival.

For example:

V&A 2021 – expected numbers 45K – 90% down on a normal year

Industrial Museums survey showed their members expecting 50% income in comparison to 2019.

MGS reiterated the concerned raised by NLHF over the health of the civic sector (125 museums run by Local Authority and Arms-Length cultural bodies). This vulnerable section of the sector is not able to apply for funding in the same way as independent museums. And their current predicament is set in the context of a decade of reduced revenue funding and reductions in staff numbers. The biggest operator in this field is Glasgow Life, and it saw visitor numbers reduce from 3.4M to under 70k – these figures do not allow for viable reopening with the consequential knock-on for catering, and additional services. As non-statutory services, they are at the bottom of funding priorities, this is despite growing visitor numbers and contributions to their local places and communities far beyond their traditional remits. Further squeeze on these sites, as Local Authority budgets remain stretched, is to be expected.

As places providing access to the stories of communities across extensive periods of time, museums and galleries are unique contributors to the identity of place; locally, regionally and nationally. The loss of these local venues will have a detrimental effect on local places for years to come.

The uncertainty has deep impacts on workforce health. MGS worked from the start to enable informal workforce connections, as well as providing free mental health and wellbeing sessions with Solve. Organisations have expressed concerns as to how to bring people together who have very different pandemic experiences. Organisations also express challenge in finding the capacity and headspace for strategic planning.

Looking ahead, MGS will be continuing to advocate for the sector and to advocate for further financial support. Partnerships have been key to their work this year, the skills, learning, information sharing has been essential to successes, and will continue. MGS launched their sector Delivery Plan days before moving to home-working –  and the 4 areas of focus remain relevant (workforce development; digital development; sector resilience; and response to the climate emergency).

Over the year MGS has seen the sector adapt demonstrating: organisational agility, digital expansion, live-learning events, and skills training and employability provision. MGS’ own training programmes remained live, and they are now a gateway for the Government Kick-start scheme. The Surviving to Thriving programme run by MGS in partnership with greenspace scotland and BEFS welcomed the successful participating organisations this month.

MGS know the future funding environment will look different – Museums will need to innovative and collaborate. MGS also know that funding will be necessary during this time to enable that adaptation from recovery to resilience.

Alex Paterson, Historic Environment Scotland Brought a philosophical macro-view on commonalities across the sector, carefully considering more specifically where we find ourselves now, and where we might be moving towards.

Where we are: Challenging times remain. In CHERF during June (2020) it felt like a glimmer of change and hope as things began to reopen. Now, we’re still dealing with the pandemic consequences.

This sector, like so many others, is the beneficiary of numerous support schemes, support which will be needed for some time to come. HES has been one of those beneficiaries. Evidence HES presented to the Culture Committee expressed some of the challenges. The impact on HES has been huge:

  • 85% of commercial income expected to disappear
  • 900 colleagues on furlough
  • Edinburgh Castle 2.1M visitors in 2019/20 reduced to – 277K in 2020/21

Income from Scottish Government has enabled HES to support others through their grant schemes. Many challenges with current projects have been seen – and flexibility has been necessary. The Historic Environment Recovery Fund distributed 41 awards totalling just under 2M. These support schemes have been, and remain, critical.

Alex spoke about the wider ripple effect – another angle appears to this situation with regularity. The suppliers, caterers, researchers, specialist organisations of all kinds, – within and without the sector – the whole eco-system are all affected. Only as the sector reopens (when it can reopen) will we know more about the state of these organisations too.  Skills training has been impacted, with recruits down; repair and maintenance is delayed – growing a backlog of work, but also with assessment of some sites unable to take place.

Consequences over the longer-term on our built environment will also be seen. Consequences of home working, the effects of online worship, changing living and working patterns will affect our towns and cities. A year ago, the impacts we might have been discussing would have focused on Brexit – and those impacts too, need consideration. Our supply-chains, state-aid rules, structural funds and future investments will all be impacted.

Looking forward: Returning to the Budget – most parts of the budget for this sector were, as good, or better than could have been expected.

The real challenge is how to plan, there are more variables than we are used to and a lack of control over those variables. What assumptions can we (all) make – over visitor numbers, over opening of sites, over income?

What it means for HES: In 2021/22 HES will continue to be ambitious, but with realism and pragmatism playing their role, prioritising and controlling costs. HES will focus on core business and core purpose. What core business looks like has also changed – use of digital technologies and other routes to market have become more significant. Building core business will not be what was had before – but will a major part of the future focus.

2021/22 is an unusual year. Unless there is dramatic change there will not huge numbers of international visitors. The market will be primarily domestic visitors. This will be a distinctive year and a different offer and new engagement will be needed.

There is an opportunity as a sector – we can do more, and say more, about the relevance of what we do collectively out-with the sector. How does what we do contribute to the wider economic recovery, and how do we articulate more effectively how this sector contributes to other critical priorities around wellbeing, reducing inequalities, and the community and place making agendas? There is more to say around our work in relation to the future of sustainable tourism, and the response to the climate emergency.

We have an opportunity to promote the relevance of what we do and the wider contribution we make.


Panel Discussion – Chaired by Ian Baxter

Alex Paterson had another commitment, the panel was joined by Adam Jackson and Alison Turnbull from Historic Environment Scotland, as well as Lucy Casot from Museums Galleries Scotland, and Anna Leask from Napier University.

Initial thoughts were drawn from Lucy and Anna.

LC: Easy to focus inwards, on own organisation, and own issues. Now critical to seek to work together,  to work collectively, across heritage. We can learn from each other and have broad discussions that benefit place-based approaches. Partnership working needs to be prioritised. Difficult to find this balance between the day-to-day with strategic thinking for the future.

AL: The range of speakers emphasised the breadth and diversity of the sector, and the close and complex relationship between heritage and tourism. There has been a lack of understanding about the sector, not just things like charitable status, but also eligibility for funding stemming from diversification of offer. This lack of understanding was even seen in relation to social distancing – visitor attraction sites had 2m rules when  hospitality and entertainment had 1m.

We also heard about people: The stresses on staff, the flattening of hierarchies, how to skills, and upskill. Concerns remain around volunteers, particularly the older age profile. And visitors themselves have changed – the focus is now on domestic, and also where concentrations of visitors have perhaps led to rural concerns.

But the response from the sector has been phenomenal, finding ways through funding (which is complex), adapting and innovating, providing new experiences.

Audience Questions were taken in order of submission.

Question: on Connectivity and the Rural/Urban divide.

SB: Digital connectivity as a focus has been a challenge but it calls for speed of change so that rural communities can fully participate.

AT: HES thinking about their own national footprint, considering their properties in care and sites, as hubs in their communities. HES accelerated their own work, and moved to working remotely. HES have a Digital strategy being reviewed at the moment. The pandemic has highlighted issues around digital divide, which the Scottish Government are also addressing. We need to work with partners that we’ve never worked with before. We don’t often come together like this, and we need to make more opportunities.

LC: Needed to fund the community museums too. Their value as hubs is very important. Those with connectivity have found this a benefit in some ways, the lack of need to travel, and the ability for all to have equitable participation – those lessons need to remain key.

AH: greater impetus from this situation to find solutions and be willing to invest in those.

Question: Tourism and heritage – how we see the balance – sustainable funding for projects. Change in markets. Etc

CC: Complex picture within Scotland. Different visitor markets across different places, remote/urban etc. Seen a flourishing in creative and innovative ways moving from what was developed for tourism market to delivering deep social benefits to hard hit local communities. Need to not lose these powerful connections. A real richness that shouldn’t be lost. Demonstrates how the sector can deliver wellbeing – not just locally but more widely.

Tourism is a big employer for young people in rural places, rural connectivity can enable young people to stay in their communities. We’ve seen so many clever solutions and  perhaps the increasing of opportunities and can be kept.

AL: Data up to 2019 a large amount is domestic (70%) in terms of volume, value is higher for international. But domestic positives: short lead time, less seasonality, wider age spread too. A lot to be said for domestic market. Challenges appear with travel restrictions – limited international can still bring domestic difficulties. Opportunities – for the future – visiting friends and relatives is key to changes. Local people visiting local places. More value being seen by communities and individuals. Pushing at an open door, how to develop and what people want in their local places. Developing different markets. Educating visitors to understand what they’re supporting. But infrastructure needs grow with some of this.

SB: No-one wants a dependence on any particular segment of the visitor sector. Value all of these sectors and interest, there is a financial value attached to that. How can organisations best utilise the income and the value to make their properties more relevant and reduce barriers to access.

AH: ties into further question – historic properties can focus on tourism/weddings/events/catering/retail etc Financial Support can be tailored (eg Wedding or Outdoor businesses – 50-75% of income needs to come from that to be eligible) – diversification can prevent some organisations from being eligible.

Question: About freelancers – designers/conservators all sorts of freelance workers (ICON producing own survey)  AJ: Aware of the data gap – HES working with Skills Development Scotland to get data in relation to sector skills areas.

Question: What trends have organisations seen in donations/giving trends?

SB: NTS seen 10% drop in monetary value from Membership. But this is viewed as not being able to recruit new members, rather than being over and above usual churn. Need to find value for members with new and different online events. In terms of general donations, people’s generosity has shown that people do care, support what we do. See the value in us.

EnC: National Museums highlighted that their drop was severe and problematic. Many organisations considering how to make new experience content and make it relevant to their audiences.

Question: Working with UK: Much support comes from UK Government and this reflects the difference in available resource. Do we need to be working more closely with the rest of the UK to make the sector’s case to the UK govt?

AJ: Answer is yes. HES part of UK wide group where HE, THA, BEFS, CADW, NI Communities Directorate meet regularly. Focus started with Brexit, then Covid. An open knowledge exchange, sharing opportunities and hear what’s working in terms of  influence. The Heritage Alliance regularly meet with DCMS and put the case  for the sector forward. Fair reflection that strength of that relationship with Westminster is perhaps stronger than we might sometimes have in Scotland.

LC: Parallel alliance of UK museums, similar to built-heritage sector. Story is often not distinct, UK wide advocay is important. New budget money will be from consequentials.

CC: In other parts of UK work with DCMS/DEFRA. In last year, in Scotland, work with Scottish Government and partners. The structures are there, the conversations are happening.

Question: We do good work but are we making our information sharable, in the infographic sense, like Heritage Counts?

AT: All tried individual pieces of work for this. Need to pool our efforts, and work together, to influence and get our evidence in front of elected members.

AL: Sector is collecting data but making it useful remains a challenge. The use of terminology, the lack of understanding are connected to the data question. Tourism always seeks better, more reliable data, but this does need leadership. ASVA/ALVA – STA–  have used data well and linked into STERG taskforce. Need good data leadership, need to feed heritage data into existing organisations.

SB: NTS is now trying to look at the longer term. Commissioning a Social and Economic Impact assessment at property level – they’re working on their own case and insight into the value they bring. Will be willing to share in terms of methodology and results. A fundamental piece of learning. Want to fill gaps, deliver more value, and where are their spatial gaps . Sector could think about this more broadly.

Questions remained – due to time pressures:

  • How to expand greater inclusion in Volunteering. Are there HES plans in this area?
  • Collaborations – and where they can happen?
  • Infrastructure and how to put grant conditions on things like EV charging points etc… Make physical and intellectual changes.
  • Regulator
  • Plans for maintenance – and how to protect assets.
  • How advocacy groups meet and continue these conversations?
  • What about the rest (non-asset) of the sector: How about academia? Skills creation etc have all suffered.

In closing Ian Baxter asked Euan Leitch for final thoughts:

Responses make it clear we’re still in the midst of this.  Are we in the space of thinking the unthinkable? At the OPiT CEO Forum a desire was expressed to have those big, open strategic conversations, but  real space was desired for the discussion where nuance and body-language can be more easily read and expressed. It doesn’t feel like we’re in that space yet.

BEFS want to be able to provide the space for conversation, and dramatic change. The problems are immediate, but we can take the conversation and work on how to move it forward. Previous ideas submitted post the initial series of CHEF meetings were good ideas, but they were not new ideas. It feels like there is new thought out there, and new ideas to be had. We hope to be in that space soon, enabling transparent discussions.

Ian Baxter:  BEFS will commit within CHERF to continuing the conversation, and examining the relationship between tourism and heritage, but there is the wider conversation between the historic environment and communities and people, and skills, and identity. The economics of heritage can be dominated by tourism – but we need to pull those strands out in a nuanced way.

Thanks were given to all across the sector and allied sectors. Appreciating the collaboration that has taken place. We will work towards understanding what the future looks like – both thinkable, and unthinkable.


I was concerned that whilst the report would be entitled the State of Heritage I would be commenting on the stasis of heritage.

Having been involved with previous CHERF events, and the subsequent reports, I initially wondered if we were understandably rooted in the same conversations about emergency situations and unprecedented times. With further thought and the opportunity to relisten to the astonishing breadth and depth of information shared, I find myself reflecting that the job losses are not stasis, the organisational survival is not stasis; the adaptation, the new ways of working, and the learning; these are not stasis.  The resilience remaining comes at a price. But the proof that change can happen, that adaptation occurs when needed, exists. How we harness this flux towards the positive, rather than as a reaction to the negative will be the ultimate measure. We are living through these changing times (personally and professionally), so may find it hard to notice the more incremental and monumental shifts happening all around us. We’re often too close to gain true perspective.

The call came from all sides for more collaboration, more open working. The offers to share data, information, and skills were freely given. Collective action and collaboration were championed. We were asked how these conversations can continue? How we can form the spaces for strategic thought and find the head-space for radical change?

The good news is, we are – we are doing all these things – as the reports from across the sector bore testament to. These collaborations and partnerships are happening. The adaptations are taking place. We’re making our relevance to the social, economic, cultural and climate agendas known. We’re learning new ways of working, and considering how to make sure these are more equitable, listening to the silences, not just the shouting. We can’t fix every related issue (from rural broadband to societal inequalities) but we know to consider our outcomes within those limitations, and who to ask for help in achieving the best aims for all.

The fact we’re asking for the very things we’re doing suggests an appetite for more rapid change and development. And perhaps we do need to prioritise, to find more time to balance the day-to-day with the strategic, to help increase the velocity of our progress.

The greatest outcomes have involved sharing information, asking for assistance, and working collaboratively and collectively, to share our knowledge, our experience, and our skills – all in the name of emergency measures. Can we now make these actions our business as normal, for the ambition of delivering excellence, rather than surviving emergency.

Ailsa Macfarlane, BEFS Policy & Strategy Manager

All current evidence supplied to the Scottish Parliament Culture, Tourism,  and External Affairs Committee in relation to the Impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s Culture and Tourism Sectors can be found here.



Details of funding for Historic Environment Scotland in the Scottish Government’s draft budget.

This budget summary was prepared as part of the State of Heritage 2021-22 event held on 4 February 2021.

The Scottish Government published its Budget 2021-22 on 28th January with details on the funding of Historic Environment Scotland within the Economy, Fair Work and Culture portfolio.

The total budget forecast for HES in 2021-22 is £91.3 million, a decrease of just under 9% on the previous year’s budget. The budget forecasts an income generation of £44.1m which at this point in time seems ambitious. However, the grant in aid figure of £55.9 million will be augmented by a further £20 million drawn from the allocation of COVID consequentials. With a total grant from Scottish Government of £75.9 million therefore, HES will only need to generate income of £15.3 million to meet the forecast budget for 2021-22. This is a 75% decrease over the previous year’s forecast income.

Arguably the comparison with the previous year’s budget is now moot given the drop in income generated by HES in a year with little tourist activity, albeit augmented by the additional £37.1m the organisation received via Scottish Government mid-year which came from the £97m UK Government consequentials for the culture and heritage sectors.

Unlike previous years, the budget makes no comment on HES role as a grant funder only stating that HES will continue “caring for our heritage and communities, creating local training and employment and supporting the maintenance of traditional craft skills.” The Scottish Government has dispensed around £14.5 million funding annually through HES for more than a decade.

Level 3 2019-20 Budget 2020-21 Budget 2021-22 Budget 
Operational Costs 93.5 100.1 91.3 
Capital Expenditure 6.0 6.0 6.0 
Less Income (59.7) (63.3) (41.4) 
Total Historic Environment Scotland 39.842.855.9

Below are some further figures from the budget that have implications for the wider built environment and it must be said that, More Homes aside, the budget is a broadly positive outcome given the year past and what looks to be ahead.

Level 3 2019-20 Budget 2020-21 Budget 2021-22 Budget
Architecture and Place
Building Standards
Planning 6.58.311.5
Planning and Environmental Appeals
More Homes 788.7896.1628.1
Fuel Poverty/Energy Efficiency 119.6137.1145.6
Regeneration 42.347.481.6
Vacant and Derelict Land Grant
Creative Scotland and Other Arts 66.067.363.2
Cultural Collections 74.679.275.7
Major Events and Themed Years
Culture and Major Events Staffing
National Performing Companies 22.922.922.9
National Parks 13.413.917.5
Natural Resources, Peatland and Flooding 4.629.734.1
Scottish Environmental Protection Agency 34.437.143.5
NatureScot 46.549.150.2
Zero Waste 20.516.540.2
Land Reform 15.615.014.9
Scottish Land Commission


City Region and Growth Deals3.811.2
Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company0.50.5
Capital Land and Works22.022.0
City Region and Growth Deals201.0198.1
Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company5.05.0
Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS)55.058.0
Regeneration Capital Grant Fund25.025.0
Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme5.0
Place, Town Centres and 20 Minute Neighbourhoods23.0



Former BEFS Chair, Graeme Purves, compares approaches being taken by Wales and Scotland to highlight some strategic planning challenges.

As the initial consultation on Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) draws to a close, the Welsh Government is preparing to publish the final version of the National Development Framework for Wales, Future Wales: the National Plan 2040.  Some of the issues raised during the Senedd’s final scrutiny of Future Wales are also of relevance for NPF4.  This blog compares approaches being taken by the two devolved administrations to highlight some strategic planning challenges.

Post-Pandemic Recovery

Along with taking forward the pressing Climate Change agenda, one of the major challenges in both countries will be economic and social recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Scottish Government’s post-COVID Economic Recovery Implementation Plan reflects the neoliberal narrative set out in the Higgins Report, Towards a Robust, Resilient Wellbeing Economy for Scotland, Scottish Ministers do appear to recognise some role for strategic planning in recovery.  The Implementation Plan indicates that NPF4 will be brought to Parliament in September.  It also intends that the Regional Land Use Partnerships should have a role in regional economic development as well as meeting climate change goals.  In his foreword to the Position Statement on NPF4 published in November, Planning Minister Kevin Stewart states that the experience of the pandemic has highlighted the importance of a good local environment, with good access to open space and amenities, but post-pandemic recovery is not developed as a theme in that document.

In a report Go Big – Go Local published in October, the UK2070 Commission warned that the pandemic may exacerbate regional inequalities and have disproportionate impacts on the elderly and opportunities for young people. It recommended that strategies for recovery should place emphasis on investment in infrastructure with a view to building resilience and strengthening connectivity.

During committee scrutiny of the draft Future Wales in the Autumn of last year, the Welsh Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James, argued that the strategy it set out is sufficiently robust and flexible to respond to the societal changes arising from the pandemic and that experience over the past year had validated its focus on climate change, place-making and resilience.  However, the Senedd’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee has pressed for more.  Drawing on the work of the UK2070 Commission, it has called for Future Wales to include a clear statement reflecting the lessons learned from COVID-19 and explaining how the framework will help to further post-COVID recovery.  It has pressed for explicit recognition of the potential contributions of investment in infrastructure, housing, connectivity, heat networks and natural capital, and increasing capacity in the foundation economy.  There may well be similar calls in Scotland.

The Regional Dimension of Recovery

While the Higgins report played down the role of the public sector, particularly local authorities, in recovery, some of its recommendations were very much in tune with the thinking of the UK2070 Commission.  It called for an investment-led recovery.  It recognised the need to address regional disparities in Scotland and advocated a regionally focused model of economic development.

Future Wales has a strong regional dimension.  The Welsh Government will rely on strategic development plans for North, Mid, South-East and South-West Wales to take forward key aspects of policy development and implementation.  How enthusiastic the Scottish Government will be about a strong regional dimension to recovery strategy remains to be seen.  It has blown hot and cold over regions over the past decade.  In 2014 it reaffirmed its commitment to strategic development plans at the regional level, yet the planning review initiated by Alex Neil in 2015 led to a proposal to end regional agency and centralise strategic planning in the National Planning Framework.  As a result of opposition in the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government was obliged to accord a role to Regional Land Use Partnerships.  The Position Statement for NPF4 states that “Our strategy will be informed by emerging regional scale spatial and economic strategies.”

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay, announced in January that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is to be disbursed from London.  This creates a real danger that Scottish discretion on spatial priorities will be significantly curtailed. The Scottish Government may count itself fortunate that its attempt to abolish regional strategic planning failed.  Without it, its flank might have been even more exposed to UK Government interventions than it is.  It will be important for the Scottish Government to build strong relationships with local authorities and work closely with regional partnerships on spatial strategies.

Barclay’s announcement makes it even more important to be clear about the relationship between strategic spatial planning and growth deals.  They reflect different ideological perspectives, and there is potential for them to pull in different directions.  The Position Statement on NPF4 states only that regional spatial and economic strategies “will align with city and regional growth deals.”  There is no indication that growth deals should reflect spatial strategies.  In Wales, the Senedd’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee has recommended to the Welsh Government that “Future Wales should explicitly state the need for a reciprocal and iterative relationship between strategic development plans and growth deals over time.”  Stakeholders should insist on the same relationship between spatial strategies and growth deals in Scotland.

Place-Making and Housing Delivery

There is contrast between the Welsh and Scottish Governments in their approach to place-making and housing delivery.  Future Wales accords the public sector the lead role in urban development, regeneration and the delivery of affordable housing, though the Welsh Government remains coy about specific delivery mechanisms.  In the NPF4 Position Statement, the public sector and local authorities barely get a mention.  The Scottish Government appears to prefer a developer-led model, with the role of planning authorities being merely to provide developers with “a steady pipeline of land.” While there is a lot of aspirational rhetoric about place-making in the Position Statement, the Scottish Government shows little inclination to empower the public sector to take the necessary lead.  Better places and 20-minute neighbourhoods are public policy objectives, but we are given no hint as to the mechanisms which will be used to deliver them.  There is no reference, for example, to the work the Scottish Land Commission has been doing on land value capture and sharing for several years now.

Rural Repopulation

Finally, it is interesting that the repopulation of rural areas has re-emerged as an objective of spatial planning in Scotland and Wales, something we have not really seen since the strategic plans for post-Depression and post-War recovery in the middle of the last century.  In autumn 2018, Community Land Scotland successfully promoted an amendment to the Planning (Scotland) Bill which requires the NPF to consider the potential for rural resettlement.  The NPF Position Statement says that rural repopulation will be a key theme for emerging regional spatial strategies for the South of Scotland, Argyll and Bute, Western Isles, Orkney and the Highlands.  The Welsh Senedd’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee has called for Future Wales to include further locational guidance on addressing rural depopulation.  It has also pressed for the Welsh framework to recognise opportunities for people to live and work sustainably outside towns and cities.

by Graeme Purves



Museums Galleries Scotland, BEFS, and greenspace scotland welcome the 40 organisations who will participate in the 18-month NLHF funded Business Support Programme, ‘Surviving to Thriving’ (StT).

At a time when heritage organisations are facing a multitude of challenges caused by the pandemic StT plays a key role through collaboration across the museums, greenspace, and built environment sector, in supporting organisations to develop their resilience through sustainable business models.  With a focus on upskilling the heritage workforce across Scotland the programme invests in individuals and organisations, through building confidence and knowledge in business practice.

The programme will commence in April with BlueSky Experiences delivering the core training across the four strands of the programme: leadership, governance, business planning and local community engagement. City of Glasgow College will be providing additional skills-based training which will complement the core training. Axiom Consultancy have been appointed as programme evaluators.

Fiona Skiffington, Business Support Project Manager said:

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome the 40 organisations who join us for StT. Now more than ever it is vital to support the heritage workforce and organisations to develop business models and skills. Through the programme we are seeking to directly address the skills gap identified by the sector, and through investment in widespread workforce training we hope to support the sector to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and increase their resilience.”

Caroline Clark, Director Scotland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“Collaboration is critical in building a successful and resilient heritage sector as we come out of this crisis.  Thanks to players of The National Lottery, this initiative will facilitate cultural, built and natural heritage organisations to come together to develop their business models and support capacity building. We are delighted to be able to help the sector improve sustainability in this way as it has a crucial role to play in supporting Scotland’s economic recovery.”

The programme will be delivered digitally for the time being and will move to face-to-face when possible (as per government guidelines). To enable full participation in StT eligible organisations will be awarded a community grant. Participants on the programme reach right across the heritage sector and the country, yet all are facing similar challenges caused by the pandemic, with many citing the programme as vital for increasing their resilience.

Victoria Collison, Executive Director, Historic Churches Scotland said:

“Historic Churches Scotland is delighted to be selected to participate in the Business Support Programme. Securing the future of these historic buildings is not just about fixing the roof: more than ever, in these challenging times, it requires people with a broad range of skills from business planning to community development.

The programme is unique in providing the training we need for the people who need it, whether they are staff, board members, or volunteers. As an organisation we want to grow and to help more communities use and look after their church building in a sustainable way. The skills we gain from the programme will support not only our own work, but hopefully the work of many other community groups throughout Scotland in the future.”

Alexander Goodger, Museum Manager, Dundee Museum of Transport said:

” The Business Support Programme has appealed to us in particular because our income streams come from our events and ticket sales, income of which was down by 48% last year due to the pandemic. The training on business planning, and community engagement, alongside a community grant will help us to diversify our income streams, trial new ventures and re-connect with audiences locally and nationally for a brighter future.”

Helen Brown, Trust Manager, Water of Leith Conservation Trust said:

“We have many areas of our operation which will benefit from the support offered on the Business Support Programme, as grant support has reduced over the past decade building a sustainable approach to our income streams means we can continue to work with volunteers to conserve and enhance the Water of Leith, operate our Centre and community cafe and deliver our learning programmes. Charities have had to learn to adapt and become resilient to change especially this year, so we are excited to get started on planning a brighter future for our organisation.”



  • Museums Galleries Scotland is the National Development Body for museums and galleries in Scotland and offers strategic development support to the sector. For further information about Museums Galleries Scotland visit

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2020 was a year unlike any other and as the financial year draws to a close, BEFS is hosting a webinar, The State of Heritage 2021-22, to hear about the current financial position from across the heritage sector and tentatively look at what the implications are for 2021. We will provide a brief overview of relevant details from the Scottish Government’s Budget, which will be announced later today. Organisational perspectives will be provided by National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, Historic Houses Scotland, Museums Galleries Scotland and Napier University. Sign up here.

The National Partnership for Culture (NPC) has published its work programme for 2021. The NPC provides advice and guidance to Scottish Ministers on key strategic issues affecting culture in Scotland. The work programme for 2021 is based on initial priority areas of focus, cross-cutting principles and with the recovery and renewal of the culture sector in Scotland at its heart. BEFS has been invited to participate in the workshops and to share outputs with members to enable sector review of draft agreed priorities and proposed actions from each workshop session.

BEFS submitted a short response to the Scottish Government’s land use consultation. The submission suggests alignment between natural and heritage protections, making considerations for people and place, and considering the values of landscape scale decisions.

Recordings of Under One Roof’s Autumn and Winter 2020 Webinar Programme are now available online. Funded by the SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust, this series explored a range of tenement related topics from factors to debt recovery and how to have difficult conversations. The physical side of tenement repairs was also covered with webinars on how to inspect a property, how to look after the roof and structural issues. The recordings – and the associated CPD certificates – are completely free here.

BEFS Policy & Strategy Manager, Ailsa Macfarlane, reflects on the potential damage of the common narrative in heritage protection, in our blog this week: Is the language of salvation helping heritage?


Inquiry – 21st century places: values and benefits
Closes 29 Jan 2021.

Strengthening Scottish Charity Law Survey
Closes 19 Feb 2021.

Draft Guidance on minimum standards for depositing archaeological assemblages in Scotland
Deadline for responses 8th Feb 2021. Consultation document.

National Planning Framework: Position Statement
Closes 19 Feb 2021.

New Build Heat Standard – Scoping Consultation
Closes 3 Mar 2021.

Mediation in Planning
Closes 12 Mar 2021.

Draft Public Engagement Strategy for Climate Change
Closes 17 Mar 2021.

Consultation Responses

Just Transition Commission call for evidence: analysis report (SG 18/01/21)


Plan the Scotland We Need – A Manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament Election (RTPI 26/01/21)

National Partnership for Culture: work programme – 2021 (SG 21/01/21)

Brexit Guidance & Useful Resources (RIAS 21/01/21)

Prospect – Updated guidance on safe working during COVID (CIfA 21/01/21)

Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2011: Code of conduct for Property Factors (SG 18/01/21)

Health on the High Street (SMF 19/01/21)

Scottish Government News Releases

Community projects get £25 million funding (SG 27/01/21)
More than £25 million is going to disadvantaged and remote communities around Scotland to support regeneration and employment projects.

News Releases

Culture and Heritage Capital portal (DCMS 21/01/21)
This page brings together research, guidance and estimates to help government and private organisations consider the value of culture and heritage capital.

The effect of Brexit on UK construction (RICS 11/01/21)
The UK and EU’s announcement of a trade deal from 1st January 2021 imposes no direct charges on construction or construction products but there are administrative burdens that will add to cost and inhibit the functioning of the UK construction industry.

My Place Awards (SCT 01/21)
The My Place Awards celebrate community-led built environment projects that have transformed their locality.  The Awards honour projects that have excelled in terms of community involvement/impact and design. Winners of the My Place Awards benefit from the opportunity to develop a national profile and evidence impact to potential and existing funders, as well as be featured in a public exhibition. The My Place Awards 2021 are now open for entries. The deadline for entries is 11:59pm, 31st January 2021. Enter here!

Hidden meanings in Scotland’s historic places (HES 18/01/21)
Many of Scotland’s historic places contain features which may have hidden meanings. Join us as we take a look at some of our favourites.

Opinion & Comment

Thinking Local First Isn’t Just A Resolution – It’s a Lifeline (STP 21/01/21)


For the latest information about BEFS Members’ events see our events calendar.

Artistry and Architecture – Sir Ninian Comper by Andrew Wright OBE
Date & time: Thu, 28 Jan 2021, 19:30.
As a leading exponent of Gothic Revival in Britain in the twentieth century, Comper is one of Aberdeen’s most illustrious architectural sons. In this illustrated lecture, seminal works located in Northeast Scotland and undertaken at various stages of Comper’s career, will be examined, building upon the lecturer’s involvement with the care of one of Comper’s finest churches; St Margaret of Scotland at Braemar.

Campaign for a National Plan that Puts People and Planet First
Date & time: 28 January, 6-8pm.
Decisions on important developments (housing etc) are guided through the Scotland’s National Planning Framework (NPF). It will decide on national developments like Dundee Waterfront, Grangemouth Investment zone, flood protection areas and new national parks. It will contain important policies on housing, renewable energy and the environment. The latest NPF4 will last until 2050 and is being drawn up NOW. Developments included in NPF4 will be untouchable once it’s been signed off by Parliament in 2022. But there is lots we can do before then.

Collective Architecture
Date & time: Mon, 1 Feb 2021, 18:15.
Online: Zoom.
Chris Stewart is an Architect-Director of the award-winning, employee-owned practice Collective Architecture, as well as a director of the Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA). In this talk he will tell us about the practice’s projects and its approach to sustainable design and client and user involvement.

National Planning Framework 4 – Community Discussion Workshops 
Dates & times: Tue, 2 Feb 2021 11:00-12.30; Wed, 3 Feb 2021 11:00-12.30; Tue, 9 Feb 2021 16:00-17:30.
Online via Zoom
National Planning Framework 4 is being prepared by the Scottish Government as the new “national plan” for Scotland – it will be the key document setting Scottish planning policy direction until 2031. The Position Statement sets out Scottish Government thinking based on consultation undertaken so far. PAS (Planning Aid Scotland) has been asked to run three workshops to hear the views of community group representatives about the Position Statement. We will also cover how to respond effectively and next steps in the NPF4 process. Places are limited to 20 per event.

The Landscape of Outdoor Learning – Online Webinar:  A response to the 1140h EY Expansions
Date & time: Wed, 17 February 2021 12:00 – 13:30 GMT
This webinar explores and celebrates the benefits of well-designed, nature based playgrounds in Early Years outdoor learning & child development. This talk is aimed at educators, design professionals and organisations responsible for delivering successful Early Years outdoor learning. Our guest speakers discuss their work and experience of designing and implementing Early Years playscapes since the 1140h Expansion guidelines made way in Scotland: Felicity Steers : Director – erz; Natalie Murray: Technical Director – Wardell Armstrong; Education and Property Team : West Lothian Council. Followed by a Q&A session.

Planning Law for Heritage and the Arts – A Survival Guide
Date & time: 18 February 2021, 13:00 – 15:30
Online: via Zoom
Planning is also undergoing significant reform, with emergency Covid-19 measures in place while wider reform continues apace. This session aims to identify potential planning pitfalls and how to deal with them. It will give you an understanding of the key concepts underpinning the Scottish planning system and will illustrate how an Arts and Heritage development is regulated in practice and review the consequences of breaching planning controls. Topical issues and upcoming reforms will also be covered, alongside questions and comments from delegates throughout the session.

Telling It Like It Is – Effective Copywriting
Date & time: 23 February 2021, 10:00 – 12:30
Online: via Zoom
This training session is aimed at anyone looking to improve their copywriting skills to support their fund-raising activities. Offering a combination of project-based, hands-on writing exercises with tips, techniques and critical theory, the session explores the five stages of the copywriting process. While the training provides a specific focus on writing a case for support, the resulting learning can be applied to all kinds of fundraising communications.

66 The House That Viewed the World
Date & time: Monday, 1st March; Lecture starts at 6.30pm prompt.
Online via Zoom.
Author John D.O. Fulton discusses his recent book about 66 Queen Street in Edinburgh’s New Town, which tells the story of the people and events associated with the house over the course of 210 years. The diverse characters, whose lives were empowered by the Scottish Enlightenment, range from heroes to villains and from people of conscience to subjects of tabloid scandal and moral prurience.

Culture & Business Fund Scotland Roadshows: A source of support for COVID-19 recovery & renewal
Date & time: Tuesday 9 March 11:00am — 13:00pm & Tuesday 30 March 11:00am — 13:00pm
Online: via Zoom
Due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, we are taking our Culture & Business Scotland (CBFS) Roadshows online. These free webinars will give attendees from across the arts, heritage, third, public and business sectors the opportunity to learn about the fund, and how we have adapted the criteria to provide more flexible support for the sectors through a period of recovery and renewal throughout 2021 and beyond.

Keeping in touch with your supporters: keeping yourself right with data protection law (GDPR)
Date & time: 23 March 2021, 13:00 – 16:00
Online: via Zoom
During this difficult time when so many venues are closed, we are keeping in touch with our audiences, supporters and followers virtually. Of course some events can take place online and as a result you may obtain more information and personal data than you usually do, but what can you do with that lawfully? The proper use of personal data is important, not only to ensure compliance with the law but also to maintain the trust of supporters. This session will provide you with an understanding of the law, using practical examples from the sector to bring the topic to life.

Legacy giving. Now is the time – if you do it right. Learn how to!
Date & time: 25 March 2021, 11:00 – 15:00
Online: via Zoom
This course is focused on how to integrate legacies into your current fundraising at little or no cost at a time when more people are making Wills than we have witnessed in decades.


Icon seeks Trustee with financial expertise
Icon is currently recruiting for a Trustee, who will also be Chair Designate for the Finance Committee.
Closing date is Wednesday 10 February 2021.



Icon seeks Trustee with financial expertise.

Icon is currently recruiting for a Trustee, who will also be Chair Designate for the Finance Committee.

Closing date is Wednesday 10 February 2021.

Full details and how to apply