During these extraordinary times, BEFS will be providing short weekly updates on relevant information for the built environment sector.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF)have released the initial findings of their survey on the initial impact of COVID-19 on the heritage sector. It reports that:

  • 82% of organisations reported high or moderate risk to their long-term viability. That figure rises to 90% of charity, third sector or private organisations
  • 37% of organisations who responded can survive for no more than six months
  • 11% expecting to keep going for no more than two months.

Further details can be found here. As a result, the NLHF have launched the Heritage Emergency Fund.

The Our Place in Time CEO Forum is meeting this afternoon and BEFS will provide any updates arising from this. BEFS overview of advice and guidance on the Coronavirus, from across the heritage funding landscape and built environment sector, has also now been updated.

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill has been published and passed by the Scottish Parliament within 48 hours. It includes provision to extend by 12 months from the date of the Act consented planning permissions that are due to expire within a 6 month period. This was agreed in consultation with Heads of Planning, Scotland, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, Society of Local Authority Lawyers and Administrators and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. The Bill is available with planning referred to in Schedule 7, Para 8-10 here. A more readable explanation is available courtesy of the Scottish Parliamentary Information Centre.

The Scottish Government Planning Directorate will shortly be releasing further information on adjustments to planning procedures due to the restrictions on gathering, but one early case study of pre-application consultation switching to online can be found here. The development industry is working hard to ensure timescales remain as uninterrupted as possible. It remains to be seen what this fully means for public participation. One consultant is maintaining a spreadsheet on how planning authorities are managing their local processes, which can be found here.

Kevin Stewart has decided, due to the COVID-19 crisis, not to implement the Energy Efficiency (Domestic Private Rented Property) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. The Minister felt the additional duties and responsibilities the regulations would place on local authorities at this time would be detrimental to their focus on frontline emergency responses to the pandemic.

The international climate crisis conference COP 26 scheduled to take place in Glasgow this November has been postponed until November 2021. The Scottish Government has also postponed work on all non-essential legislation which includes the Circular Economy Bill and delayed the planned April update of the Climate Change Plan.

The RTPI are undertaking research on Measuring Planning Outcomes Research to consider how local authorities can measure the outcomes of planning in order to track and improve the impact of planning. To aid them in this we would encourage you to respond to this survey.

During these extraordinary times, BEFS will be providing these short updates weekly when relevant information for the built environment sector becomes available, in addition to the fortnightly bulletin.


The Latest News, Consultations, Events And Job Vacancies from the Heritage and Built Environment Sector


BEFS have been leading on Prioritisation work for the built and historic environment since Autumn 2018. Our research and discussions will help to inform the work on the Built Heritage Investment Plan taking place within Historic Environment Scotland and the OPiT Built Heritage Investment Group.

Many involved organisations and individuals have given their time, views, methodologies and valued critique to develop a suggested set of Principles for Prioritisation. These Principles were discussed at a public event in Edinburgh on 25 February.

Further to our event, and feedback from participants and interested parties, we have produced a short questionnaire designed to aid progress of this valuable work. Please see full details here

We very much want your considered opinions on this area of work – please log your responses to the survey by noon, Friday 22 March 2019.



Historic Marine Protected Areas (HES 20/02/19)
Views requested concerning proposals on the designation of two Historic Marine Protected Areas:
Scapa Flow, Orkney and The Queen of Sweden, Shetland
Opened: 20 February 2019. Closes: 6pm, 17 April 2019

Environmental Principles and Governance in Scotland Consultation (SG 16/02/19)
Opinions requested on maintaining effective environmental governance following an exit from the European Union.
Opened: 16 February 2019. Closes: 11 May 2019



The Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee Stage 1 report on the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill (SG 04/03/19)

Joint Housing Policy and Delivery Group Meeting – Discussion Papers on Tenement Maintenance February 2019 (SG 27/02/19)

Shared space: How Scottish housing co-ops build communities (Coop UK 26/02/19)

Scottish House Condition Survey – Local Authority Analyses (SG 26/02/19)

Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation: Report on housing and finance in an ageing society
(CSFI 25/02/19)

Barclay Implementation Advisory Group (SG 22/02/19)
Analyses of Responses
Final Report

Factsheet: Building Standards contact information (SG 22/02/19)

UK housing: Fit for the future? (CCC 21/02/19)


Scottish Government News Releases

£20m of support for regeneration in local communities (SG 07/03/19)
Communities across Scotland are to benefit from a share of £20.4m to support local regeneration activity.

New scheme to support town centres (SG 01/03/19)
A £50 million fund to help boost town centres has been launched.


News Releases

Strengthening economic cases for housing: the productivity gains from better housing outcomes (PS 27/02/19)
Professor Duncan Maclennan has published research making a case for housing construction to be classed as infrastructure investment, akin to investment in transport links, water and communications.

Another record-breaking year for Scottish heritage sites (HES 27/02/19)
Heritage visitors have generated £620 million local tourism expenditure

New ambassadors to champion green action (DEFRA 27/02/19)
George McGavin named as one of the UK’s Green Action Ambassadors.

Scotland’s Towns Partnership’s Funding Finder (STP 26/02/19)
The Funding Finder is the go-to place to source potential funding. Comprising nine categories, the Finder provides easy to read information on current funding streams, highlighting announcements of new funds and application deadlines. Download the February 2019 Funding Finder

Legislative proposal for assisting self- and custom-builders in Scotland (RICS 25/02/19)
RICS asks the Scottish Government to prioritise alternative solutions to housing development aimed at supporting self- and custom-build.

Construction sector devises plan to brace for Brexit (CITB 25/02/19)
Action Plan for Industry identifying the need for construction to adopt a twin-track strategy: growing investment in the domestic workforce and driving up productivity, while working with Government to agree how to maintain access to migrant workers to give it the breathing space to adapt.

Rural Planning Policy to 2050: Research to Inform NPF 4 (SG/Savills/Inherit 25/02/19)
What challenges will rural communities & businesses face in the next 30 years and how will these translate into development on the ground? Take part in this Scottish Government commissioned research & help inform preparation of future planning policy.
Closing date: Friday 22 March 2019

Rural Homes, Rural Lives Campaign (SRA 22/02/19)
The campaign states that rural housing is the key to unlocking rural economic potential.  It calls on the Scottish Government, local authorities, community organisations, housing associations, landowners and employers to work together to ensure rural equity in housing provision.

UK homes unfit for the challenges of climate change (CCC 21/02/19)
In a new report the CCC warns that the UK’s legally-binding climate change targets will not be met without the near-complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings.


Opinion & Comment

Kathleen Veitch: uncovering an architect (HES 01/03/19)

Scottish Parliament at 20: the unfinished business of land reform (HM 28/02/19)

Coul Links: One of the wildest parts of Britain is under threat (Scotsman 26/02/19)

Concrete Week (Guardian 25/02-03/03 19)

Common Space Special Week of Coverage on Scotland’s Towns & Places (22/02/19)

Westminster’s high street reforms ‘could leave Scotland behind’ (Scotsman 21/02/19)

Maybe Modern Ruins Are Just the Kind of Failure We Need (FA 18/02/19)


Parliamentary Questions

Questions marked with a triangle (?) are initiated by the Scottish Government in order to facilitate the provision of information to the Parliament.Questions in which a member has indicated a declarable interest are marked with an “R”.

Question S5W-21930: Finlay Carson, Galloway and West Dumfries, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 05/03/2019
To ask the Scottish Government what statutory protection is available to home owners to protect them from excessive charges for repairs by (a) registered social landlords and (b) factors.
Current Status: Expected Answer date 19/03/2019


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 S5O-02915: John Mason, Glasgow Shettleston, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/02/2019
To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the Interim Recommendations Report by the Working Group on Maintenance of Tenement Scheme Property.
Answered by Kevin Stewart (27/02/2019)

Question S5W-21618: Jamie Halcro Johnston, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/02/2019
To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has for the implementation of the updated Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EU) 2018/844 and the creation of strategies (a) to improve indoor air quality, (b) for renovating existing buildings to improve energy efficiency and (c) to make buildings ready for smart energy systems.
Answered by Kevin Stewart (26/02/2019)

Question S5W-21530: Dean Lockhart, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 07/02/2019
To ask the Scottish Government how many large housing development sites with outline planning permission there are in each local authority area, broken down by the number of houses.
Answered by Kevin Stewart (22/02/2019)

Question S5W-21531: Dean Lockhart, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 07/02/2019
To ask the Scottish Government what information it has regarding the build-out rate for large housing development sites in each local authority area.
Answered by Kevin Stewart (22/02/2019)

Question S5W-21388: Oliver Mundell, Dumfriesshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/02/2019
To ask the Scottish Government what help it offers to communities that are seeking to (a) improve the appearance of buildings that are considered to be “eyesores” and (b) bring derelict buildings back to use.
Answered by Aileen Campbell (21/02/2019)

Question S5W-21336: Gail Ross, Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/01/2019
To ask the Scottish Government how complete the Scottish Land Register is.
Answered by Kate Forbes (19/02/2019)


Other Parliamentary Activity

Planning Scotland Bill
The Delegated Powers & Law Reform Committee published a series of suggestions and questions on the delegated powers aspects of the Planning (Scotland) Bill at Stage 2.

Funding of EU Structural Fund Priorities in Scotland, post-Brexit
Finance & Constitution Committee calls for views on funding of EU structural fund priorities.
The closing date for responses is Thursday 25 April 2019.



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

RTPI Scotland Young Planners Conference 2019
Date & time: Wednesday 20 March; 09:00–17:30
Venue: Apex Hotel, Dundee
Our 2019 Young Planners’ Network conference takes place in the beautiful city of Dundee. This year we will be looking at how young planners can ‘deliver great places now and for the future’. A jam packed line up with some of the most esteemed built environment professionals in the country will be complemented by afternoon workshops, helping improve and refine skills critical for your development as a professional planner. We are expecting another sell-out event so don’t delay and book tickets today.

Volunteer Management Training Workshop
Date & time: Thursday 21 March; 10:00-16:00
Venue: Millenium Hotel, George Square, Glasgow, G2 1DS
Organised by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, this one-day course covers some key areas of volunteer management to help ensure that you are confident when involving volunteers. We will look at what is needed to be ready for volunteers and ensure they feel welcome and ready to start. Drawing on your own experience we will consider the positive impact that effective communication and support can have on ensuring a volunteering positive experience. Finally, we’ll touch on evaluating your volunteer contributions to ensure that all the great activities that are delivered are celebrated!
Further/Booking Details

Our Past, Our Future: Young People & Heritage
Date & time: Wednesday 27 March; 09:30-17:00
Venue: AK Bell Library, Perth
This one-day conference at the AK Bell Library in Perth will bring together a range of speakers to share their experiences working on different heritage engagement projects across Scotland. We will reflect upon activities undertaken during the Year of Young People (2018) and explore how best to support young people’s interest in the past as they become the heritage caretakers of the future. The keynote address will be given by Dr Jeff Sanders who has delivered high-profile projects for the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, including the successful Dig It! engagement programme since 2015.

Debate: (Re)moving statues. Should statues ever be removed when circumstances change?
Date & time: Wednesday 27th March; 18:00-20:00
Venue: St Andrew’s in the Square, St Andrew’s Square, Glasgow, G1 5PP
Statues are ubiquitous and often bypassed as unnoticed elements of the urban furniture. And yet statues are also, in their depiction and representation of real life people, highly symbolic. Often statues which represent people who are celebrated in their own era can become embarrassing or even offensive to the values of a future generation. It is no coincidence – especially in an era of all-pervasive media and screens – that statues can even come to stand in for the people they depict with the toppling of statues of dictators as the preeminent symbol of revolution and therefore of the toppling of anachronistic ideologies. But statues are also objects and works of art in their own right, often created by highly skilled and revered artists. The removal or destruction of statues not only eradicates them as archival and art historical artefacts, it can symbolise the erasure of collective memory of historical events and past follies. Join us for a lively debate on this fascinating topic looking in particular at statues in Glasgow.

Speaking with clarity, confidence and impact: a master class
Date & time: Friday 29 March; 09:30-17:00
Venue: Edinburgh Training Centre and Conference Venue, 16 St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SU
Carol Jefferson-Davies, a former BBC producer in the UK and abroad, has trained many types of presenters for radio and tv documentaries and other clients for conferences, business and law courts.  In this Master Class Carol will share years of insight and experience, revealing the ‘secrets’ of communicating really effectively with different types of audience and coach you in a range of skills that will not only improve your abilities but also boost your confidence. You will obtain insight, encouragement, individual personalised coaching, a tool kit of strategic techniques, as well as awareness of vital dos and don’ts. Whatever your current level of ability – whether in need of some basic help or simply a bit more polish – this is a Master Class not to be missed. Organised by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, it’s the difference a day makes to the rest of your speaking engagements.
Further/Booking Details

AF2019 March Meet-up – Edinburgh
Date & time: Saturday 30 March; 10:15 (10:30 start) – 13:00
Venue: Custom Lane, 1 Customs Wharf, Leith EH6 6AL
Join us for the March meet-up! These free-to-attend  monthly meet-ups  are very laid back and are open to anyone considering  taking part in or  contributing to the Architecture Fringe 2019 Open Programme. The Open  Programme is a non-curated platform for  self-directed projects,  exhibitions, events and happenings. The meet-ups  are an opportunity for  you to hear more about the Architecture Fringe  itself, to share your  project thoughts and ideas, get feedback and meet  new people. The  meet-ups are analogue so just bring ideas or images to  stick up on the  wall. Open to all, free to attend. A lovely way to spend  a Saturday  morning!

Scotland’s Future Landscapes: Design for an Ageing Population
Date & time: Wednesday 24 April; 18:00-20:10
Venue: Hunter Lecture Theatre, Hunter Building, 74 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9DF
Learn from a world perspective to influence in Scotland
Dr Amber Roberts, Winner of the Mark Turnbull Travel Award reflects on her research and travels to Japan, Sweden and USA. How do we design for ageing populations and strengthen Scottish landscape practice under the legacy and influence of Ian McHarg?

CIfA2019 Archaeology: values, benefits, and legacies
Date & time: Wednesday 24 – Friday 26 April; 09:30–17:30
Venue: Royal Armouries Museum, 5 Armouries Drive, Leeds LS10 1LE
Our 2019 conference will provide a forum for delegates to discuss and explore ideas around social value, public benefit, and the creation of knowledge. It offers the opportunity to think about legacy and how the work we undertake now will impact on future generations – from inspiring future careers to learning lessons from our failures. We also want to consider how a multitude of stakeholders – archaeologists, policy makers, clients, the public – value our discipline: financially, politically and intellectually and to think about how effective we are in communicating that value through the stories we tell.
Further/Booking Details

AF2019 April Meet-up – Glasgow
Date & time: Saturday 27 April; 10:15 (10:30 start) – 13:00
Venue: The Lighthouse, 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow G1 3NU
Join us at The Lighthouse for the April meet-up! These free-to-attend monthly meet-ups are very laid back and are open to anyone considering taking part in or contributing to the Architecture Fringe 2019 Open Programme. The Open Programme is a non-curated platform for self-directed projects, exhibitions, events and happenings. The meet-ups are an opportunity for you to hear more about the Architecture Fringe itself, to share your project thoughts and ideas, get feedback and meet new people. The meet-ups are analogue so just bring ideas or images to stick up on the wall. Open to all, free to attend. A lovely way to spend a Saturday morning!

Best practice approaches to place-based regeneration: A SURF Award Shared Learning Workshop
Date & time: Thursday 2 May; 10:00-13:30
Venue: The Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR
This free half-day SURF Awards workshop event in the Storytelling Centre provides an opportunity to explore successful current approaches towards regenerating Scotland’s places with three winning projects from the ‘Most Improved Place’, ‘Housing’ and ‘Community Led Regeneration’ categories highlighted in the 2018 SURF Awards process.
Booking Information

Rhind Lectures 2019 – Hadrian’s Wall: A Study in Archaeological Exploration and Interpretation
Date & time: Friday 10 May (18:00-20:00), Saturday 11 May (11:00-17:00) and Sunday 12 May (14:00-17:00).
Venue: National Museum Scotland auditorium, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF (use Lothian Street entrance).
Hadrian’s Wall was written about even when it was still in use as a frontier. Interest continued through the next 1000 years, but it was the spirit of enquiry generated by the Renaissance which led to more focussed study. Once archaeological excavations started, the pace quickened. Now we have an enormous data base even though only about 5% of the Wall has been examined. To understand our interpretations of Hadrian’s Wall today, it is necessary to start in the 1840s, and in particular consider the work and influence of John Collingwood Bruce (Rhind lecturer in 1883). The first two lectures in this series of six will review the excavations and surveys, theories and flights of fancy since that decade. The next two lectures concentrate on the different phases of activity on the Wall and through them seek understanding of how the Wall operated. The impact of the Wall on local people and the landscape is the subject of the fifth lecture, while in the final talk the state of Hadrian’s Wall today is considered, with time for questions.
Lectures given by Professor David Breeze OBE, FSA, Hon FSA Scot, FRSE, Hon CIfA.

Overcoming barriers to employability facing Scotland’s young people: A SURF Award Shared Learning Workshop
Date & time: Wednesday 15 May; 10:00-13:30
Venue: The Glasgow Women’s Library, 23 Landressy Street, Bridgeton, Glasgow G40 1BP
This free half-day SURF Awards workshop event in the Glasgow Women’s Library provides an opportunity to explore successful approaches towards tackling barriers to employability facing young people in Scotland. The winning and highly commended projects from the ‘Youth Employability’ category highlighted in the 2018 SURF Awards process will provide comment on their experiences and transferable learning.
Booking Information

The importance of culture and creative arts in community regeneration: A SURF Award Shared Learning Workshop
Date & time: Thursday 30 May; 10:00-13:30
Venue: Paisley Arts Centre, 15 New Street, Paisley PA1 1EZ
This free half-day SURF Awards workshop event in Paisley Arts Centre provides an opportunity to explore successful approaches towards linking creative arts and culture into regeneration initiatives. The winning and highly commended projects from the ‘Creative Regeneration’ category highlighted in the 2018 SURF Awards process will provide comment on their experiences and transferable learning.
Booking Information

IHBC Annual School – Nottingham 2019 
Dates: Annual School: Thursday 4 – Saturday 6 July; Day School: Friday 5 July
Venue: Nottingham Conference Centre, Burton Street, Nottingham NG1 4BU
The Institute of Historic Building Conservation will hold its 21st Annual School in Nottingham, hosted by the IHBC East Midlands Branch. This year’s school focuses on the theme of ‘Heritage, Risk & Resilience: confronting conservation calamities, exploring:
–    Heritage challenges and insights into solutions for Fire | Flood | Structural Failure
–    Case studies – Technical, practical and strategic advice
–    Planning for the worst: dealing with the aftermath
The Annual School includes three exciting days of:
–    Tours – Nottingham, Leicester, Derby & the East Midlands
–    CPD support: Up to 20 hours Continuing Professional Development linked
–    Business opportunities: Sponsors, exhibitors, networks & supporters
Further information

‘PKARF: Priorities in Progress’ Regional Archaeology Conference
Date & time: Friday 30 August, 09:00-17:00
Venue: Soutar Theatre, AK Bell Library, 2-8 York Place, Perth, PH2 8EP
Save the date and book your travel for the first conference organised as part of the Perth and Kinross (Regional) Archaeological Research Framework (PKARF). Join Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust for a summary of findings from the first year of knowledge assessment and here preliminary research priorities presented by leading experts. Contribute to the shaping of the future Framework by joining ‘think tank’ workshops to review draft period summaries, nominate case studies, highlight knowledge gaps, and share your opinions on where future archaeological research should be directed. Student Attendance Bursaries available to assist with the cost of travel and accommodation.
Further information


Future-proofing our heritage: the role of maintenance in mitigating the effects of climate change
Date & time: Friday 15 March, 09:00-13:00
Venue: A&DS, 9 Bakehouse Close, 146 Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DD
A special half-day maintenance CPD event to explore the issues and solutions presented by the need to regularly maintain our historic building stock in the face of a changing climate.
Exploration of the fundamentals of maintenance, comparing and contrasting traditional and post-war buildings, and what lessons can be learned from the current Edinburgh World Heritage project in Turkey.
Cost: £15/£10 EWH members

Historic Glass and Glazing Conservation
Dates: Wednesday 27 March – Wednesday 10 April (5 days)
Venue: Forth Valley College, Drip Road, Stirling FK8 1RD
This course will explore a range of issues associated with the manufacture, use and conservation of plain and decorative glass, and traditional glazing systems, in Scotland’s historic built environment. You will get a historic overview of these materials, for their early beginnings in the Roman period and early 17th-century glassmaking industries, to technological advancements and innovation in their manufacture today.   Study the science of glass manufacture, its composition, and its physical properties. Students will learn how to carry out archival research in order to identify the artist, craftsman or studio responsible for the original work and thereby establishing the cultural significance of the work or site. This course will teach you current conservation principles and how to undertake appropriate repairs, from an initial survey, through to specification, procurement and on-site repair of existing or installation of new material – all according to best current principles of best conservation practice.
Cost: £405
To register your interest: email Technical Education

Maintaining Traditional Buildings
Date: Friday 29 March
Venue: Charlestown Workshops, Fife KY11 3EN
A must for anyone who owns or is responsible for a traditional building.
This course provides the perfect starting point if you are considering undertaking some simple repairs yourself or will enable you to speak your builder’s language and be confident that you are being given the correct advice.
This seminar will outline the maintenance that traditional buildings require and attendees will gain an understanding of traditional building techniques and the correct materials to use when undertaking repairs. This will also be an excellent opportunity to speak to the Scottish Lime Centre Trust’s expert tutors about your project, attendees are welcome to bring along photos and mortar samples for some specific advice.

Above Eaves Level P1 – Traditional Slate Roofs
Dates: Tuesday 2 – Wednesday 3 April
Venue: Merryhill Training Centre, Fife KY11 3DR
This 2-day course aims to provide an introductory guide to traditional Scottish roofs including function, structure, types of trusses, external roof shapes, typical details and decorative features and the causes of deterioration and the main causes of failure. Practical work includes sizing and trimming of slates, setting out and nailing a simple traditional slate roof, undertaking repairs, executing a mortar skew fillet and installing rainwater goods correctly.
By the end of the course attendees will be able to recognise the structure of roofs, identify different types of trusses, different external roof shapes, their detailing, decorative features. Understand how natural slate was formed and the variety of slates used in the past on traditional roofs and the main causes of failure on a roof. Specifying roof repairs with sufficient detail to retain the character of a traditional slate roof.
The practical sessions will enable you to trim and size slates, set out and nail a simple traditional slate roof, execute a mortar skew fillet and install rainwater goods correctly.

Technical Seminar: Stained Glass
Date & time: Wednesday 3 April; 10:00–16:30
Venue: The Engine Shed, Forthside Way, Stirling, FK8 1QZ
This new technical seminar delves into the use of decorative glass in buildings.  Listen to the experts cover various topics from the properties and characteristics of stained glass, to its decay mechanisms and conservation.
Cost: £35.00 Non-members; £31.50 HES members
Booking information

Conservation of Surface Finishes
Dates: Thursday 4 – Friday 12 April (4 days)
Venue: Forth Valley College, Drip Road, Stirling FK8 1RD
Discover the history and conservation of a range of internal and external surface finishes traditionally used on Scotland’s historic buildings. Study the science behind paints and coatings and the complex issues involved in the conservation of historic finishes today. This course offers a historic overview of the use of paints and other coatings in Scottish architectural traditions, from the medieval period through to the 20th century. Explore the impact of internationally renowned Scottish artists such as Adam, Cottier, Mackintosh and Traquair. Learn about technological developments, from hand-mixed coatings using natural materials such as lime and earth pigments, to the manufacturing of paints and varnishes on an industrial scale and innovative synthetic materials. You will get the chance to study the physical properties of paints, varnishes and other coatings, high-style decorative finishes such as gilding and stencilling, and the technical skills and knowledge required to conserve, restore and replicate these finishes today.
Cost: £420
To register your interest email Technical Education

Architectural Conservation CPD: Conservation Theory and Practice
Date & time: Wednesday 24 April, 12:30-13:30 (light refreshments from 12:15)
Venue: The Fair Maid’s House, 15-19 North Port, Perth, PH1 5LU
The first session in a 6-part CPD programme offers an introduction to conservation theory and practice and is delivered by Peter Burman. Whether you are starting out in a buildings related career, looking to refresh your conservation knowledge, encounter historic buildings as part of your work portfolio, or have limited knowledge of the best conservation practice to employ on a project involving buildings built before 1919, this is the CPD programme for you. Sessions are delivered in Perth by industry accredited professionals and are recognised CPD by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) and Scottish Traditional Building Forum (STBF).
Booking information

Traditional Masonry Repair C2 – Contractor Level 2
Dates: Tuesday 30 April – Thursday 2 May
Venue: Merryhill Training Centre, Fife KY11 3DR
This 3-day workshop builds on the knowledge and skills gained on ‘C1 Making and Using Traditional Mortars’. The workshop aims to enable you to complete seamless rebuilding and repair of traditional masonry to match original work. You will gain a conservation ethic and be able to develop repair strategies suitable for a variety of traditional masonry types.
The course deals with build types from ashlar to rubble walling, as well as finishes including harling and limewashing. Participants will be able to undertake sensitive surface repairs to ashlar and profiled stone to the highest standards using indenting, part indenting and mortared surface repairs
This workshop provides the underpinning knowledge and a practical rehearsal of the assessment and accreditation procedure for SQA National Unit 2 and Unit 3.


Participation Manager – National Trust for Scotland
This job leads teams to deliver programmes of work across the Trust, designed to increase participation in conservation activities at properties and increased inclusion from individuals and groups who do not currently engage with the Trust. The job holder will work with colleagues across the Trust to ensure these programmes meet local property needs, and to support the delivery of these programmes on the ground.
Location: Hermiston Quay, Edinburgh
Interested applicants should forward a completed application form by email to Work for Us or by post to National Trust for Scotland, 5 Cultins Road, Edinburgh, EH11 4DF by 15 March 2019

National Lottery Heritage Fund Director: Scotland
The National Lottery Heritage Fund is the largest dedicated funder of heritage in the UK, and everything we do for the heritage is made possible by National Lottery players.  We are seeking exceptional candidates for the role of Director Scotland.  This is an exciting time to join the Fund as it launches its ambitious Strategic Funding Framework and develops new ways of supporting and strengthening the UK’s heritage.  The Director Scotland will play a key role in taking this forward, responsible for our investment and engagement activities across Scotland and will be an inspiring leader with excellent communication and stakeholder management skills.
Contract: Permanent
Hours:  Full time (35 hours p/w)
Location: Scotland. Interviews will be held in Edinburgh on 16 April 2019.
Salary:  Up to £61k per annum (subject to review) Job Ref: BD001.01
Further details/Applications
Closing date: midnight, 29 March 2019 

Perth City Mills Development Officer
Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust are seeking to appoint a historic buildings conservation professional to join our team to:
•    Lead on the production of a Conservation Management Plan and Training and Volunteer Plan and Office Accommodation and Management Plan
•    Lead on community and stakeholder consultation and the development of a costed project proposal and fund-raising strategy leading to funding applications for a 3-5 year project beginning in 2020
•    Contribute to plans to sub-let the Trust’s Library Lodge building and the physical move of staff to Lower City Mills
Salary: £30,000 p.a. Full-time, 1-year fixed term contract.
Application is by covering letter and CV by 5pm, Friday 5 April 2019
Interviews will be held on Monday 15 April 2019.
Full job description and personal specification

Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) Development Officer
Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust are seeking to appoint a historic buildings conservation professional to join our team to:
•    Update the Conservation Area Appraisal (2009) and Management Plan, research and develop specific projects and initiatives for the bid, working with Trust staff and key staff from Perth and Kinross Council
•    Produce a Learning Plan, Professional Training Plan, and project and administrative proposals while developing community partners and correlating a final bid with additional funding as required.
Salary: £30,000 p.a. Part-time, 2-year fixed-term contract
Application is by covering letter and CV by 5pm, Friday 5 April 2019 
Interviews will be held on: Tuesday 16 April 2019.
Full job description and personal specification

Chief Executive – Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT)
The Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) seeks to change the face of Central Scotland by restoring and transforming the landscape of an area stretching from Ayrshire and Inverclyde in the west, to Fife and the Lothians in the east.
In anticipation of the retirement of Chief Executive, Simon Rennie, they are now seeking a new Chief Executive to lead the development of the Central Scotland Green Network (the largest environmental project of its kind in Europe) and to lead and manage the Central Scotland Green Network Trust.  Working closely with the senior team, you will set the strategic direction of CSGNT in order to bring about ambitious plans of bringing real change to the environment, economy and people of Central Scotland.  Reporting to the CSGNT Board, you will work closely with CSGNT’s Chair and will play a key role in projecting the Trust’s ambitions and in managing key stakeholder relationships.
Salary: £60k – £70k
Please send your completed application form along with your CV and any other supporting material in PDF format to Recruitment by Wednesday, 27 March 2019 
First interviews will take place in Shotts on Thursday 25 April 2019
Further Information



Get The Latest Built Environment News, Events, Vacancies, Consultations And Publications In Our News Bulletin.


BEFS has a number of upcoming events, including a HES Corporate Plan Consultation Workshop on Friday 26th October, 09:30-12:00, 125 Princes Street, Edinburgh. This is an opportunity to provide feedback on the corporate plan 2019-22 and is open to all.

Save the date for ‘Community Empowerment and Landscape’ on Monday 3rd December, 1500-1800, venue to be confirmed. Community Land Scotland and INHERIT have produced a report which examines the relationship between communities and the policies and practices around natural and historic environment, primarily in a rural context. The Scottish Government’s agenda to increase community ownership means that the findings have parallels for urban communities. This event will look at pragmatic steps that can be taken to ease tensions from the perspective of a community trust, a public agency, a charitable landowner and through the lens of human rights. The issues arising should provide fertile thought in advance of the HES consultation on criteria for designation. Full details will follow shortly but in the meantime, please save the date and read the report.

BEFS continues its search for our next chair until 22 October, please do share the details of the position.

And don’t miss the opportunity to contribute to the call for ideas on prioritisation – we already have interest from a variety of perspectives and would welcome yours!

Scottish Civic Trust’s recent consultation highlighted that people weren’t sure who did what in the Scottish heritage sector. To try to address this, the Scottish Civic Trust, with help from BEFS and the wider sector, has created a map listing everyone they could think of who might be of assistance to community groups. The result is now available here. Whilst certainly not exhaustive, it’s a useful guide for when you’re looking for help with a particular issue.

The fourth marshalled list of amendments and the fourth groupings of amendments for the Planning (Scotland) Bill at Stage 2 have now been published.


Delivering improved transparency in land ownership in Scotland: Consultation on draft regulations
Closes 8 Nov 2018

Call for Feedback! Help Improve the Place Standard Tool (STP 04/10/18)
We want to hear from organisations, groups and individuals who have used the Place Standard, and we also want to hear from people who haven’t used the tool. Please complete this survey to help us build on lessons to date to inform improvements to the Place Standard.

Scotland – Sharing Stories Survey (SCT 03/10/18)
The Sharing Stories project aims to challenge stereotypes and improve understanding of minority ethnic heritage across Europe. The project is being co-led by The Scottish Civic Trust as part of European Heritage Days. We want diverse cultures to be recognised as integral parts of European culture and see Scotland’s multicultural heritage better represented in heritage programmes like Doors Open Days. We are conducting a short online survey to collect information on levers / barriers / enablers to minority ethnic participation and representation in local heritage in Scotland.

Consultation Responses

Scottish Civic Trust Community Consultation Report


Barriers to homeownership for young adults (IFS 08/10/18)

Rural Scotland Key Facts 2018 (SG 08/10/18)

Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee’ Brexit Update (SPICe)

European Union funding in Scotland – Briefing (SPICe)

European Union funding in Scotland – Infographic (SPICe)

Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth Report (British Council)

Scottish Government News Releases

Housing First (SG 09/10/18)
Vulnerable people with complex needs who need help to get into settled accommodation are to be supported by funding of up to £6.5 million, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Rural tourism investment (SG 05/10/18)
Projects to benefit from £3 million funding. Some of Scotland’s most iconic, rural tourist sites will receive funding for new facilities to further enhance the visitor experience.

Community Choices Fund (SG 02/10/18)
Communities will benefit from a share of £1.75 million to increase the numbers of people involved in making decisions about investment in their local areas.

New environmental Chief Scientific Adviser appointed (SG 28/09/18)
A leading Edinburgh University scientist is being appointed as the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser for Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

News Releases

Young Placechangers Ideas Fund opens for applications (GS 11/10/18)
From today [11 October 2018] young people and youth groups can apply to the Young Placechangers Ideas Fund for Seedcorn grants (up to £500) and larger Ideas Fund grants (up to £3000). Developed by greenspace scotland and partners Youth Scotland, with funding support from the Scottish Government and Heritage Lottery Fund, the Young Placechangers Ideas Fund will support young placechangers across Scotland to put their ideas into action and change places for the better – where they live, play, hang out or go to school.

Help us add to and update the Buildings at Risk register (SAVE BH)
Do you know of any historic buildings standing empty and decaying that should be added to the SAVE Buildings at Risk register? SAVE is starting the search for buildings at risk to appear in our 2019- 2020 Buildings at Risk Catalogue and we would like to hear from you.  We are also conducting an update of the register and would welcome any news on existing entries.

Bloomberg London wins RIBA Stirling Prize for architecture (BBC 10/10/18)
Bloomberg’s London office has been named the winner of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize, in a ceremony at London’s Roundhouse. The European HQ for the financial information firm, designed by Foster + Partners, was described by the judges as “a once-in-a-generation project which has pushed the boundaries of research and innovation in architecture”.

Partners in Planning: a New Skills Hub for Planners (PAS 08/10/18)
We were delighted to take part in the recent launch event for a new skills hub for planners, Partners in Planning. Partners in Planning is an online platform to support Scotland’s planners in delivering successful places – and one, at PAS, that we think will be a great resource for our network of volunteers (planners).

Heritage Alliance Response to the Brexit White Paper & MAC report (HA 05/10/18)
The Heritage Alliance has responded to the Brexit White Paper from a heritage perspective and set out the implications of the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) final report on EEA migration in the UK.

My Place Mentoring (SCT 03/10/18)
Thanks to generous funding from Historic Environment Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the William Grant Foundation, Scottish Civic Trust are pleased to be opening our mentoring programme for community groups that are in need of some help developing their skills. We’ll provide tailored one to one support for groups across a number of different areas, including fundraising, governance, project management and social media. Drop us a line at sct@scottishcivictrust.org.uk or give us a call on 0141 221 1466 and we can talk through your needs with you.

Scotland’s iconic buildings set to benefit from sought-after stonemasonry skills (CITB 02/10/18)
A new Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) partnership has been launched in Edinburgh to help meet the demand for stonemasonry skills to protect and preserve Scotland’s iconic buildings.

CIfA2019: Call for papers (CIfA 01/10/18)
Archaeology: values, benefits, and legacies -CIfA2019 Annual conference and training event on
24 ? 26 April 2019, Leeds. Hosted at the Royal Armouries Museum, our 2019 annual conference event will be packed with sessions, training and networking opportunities. Our usual three-day conference programme includes papers, seminars and activities that aim to provide a forum for delegates to discuss and explore ideas around social value, public benefit, and the creation of knowledge.

We’re hosting the sixth European Architectural History Network International Meeting (EAHN)
EAHN2020 takes place in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, UK. The venue is the University of Edinburgh, and the conference takes full advantage of the university, and the city’s numerous architectural sites. The website is already live!

Parliament visitor experience wins vote of confidence from VisitScotland (SP 28/09/18)
The five-star tourism award was achieved by the Parliament in recognition of exceptional customer service and the high-quality facilities on offer.

Call for collaborative Centre for Cultural Value now open (AHRC 13/09/18)
The Arts and Humanities Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation, has opened a call that gives Research Organisations, in collaboration with other organisations from across the cultural sector, the opportunity to apply to become the UK’s first collaborative Centre for Cultural Value. The deadline for applications is expected to be 16.00 hours on Thursday 15 November 2018.

Future Towns Design Competition (STP)
The FutureTown Design Competition is open for applications! Both individuals and organisations are invited to submit innovative ideas for positive change in their town or city neighbourhood. The competition is aimed at provoking ideas and encouraging new approaches to highlight what the country’s towns could look like now and in the future.
Applications close at 5pm on Wednesday 31 October 2018.

Parliamentary Questions

Questions marked with a triangle (?) are initiated by the Scottish Government in order to facilitate the provision of information to the Parliament.Questions in which a member has indicated a declarable interest are marked with an “R”.

Question S5W-19087: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 27/09/2018
To ask the Scottish Government what analysis it has carried out on the relationship between the Planning (Scotland) Bill, and the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018.

Question S5W-19127: Pauline McNeill, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 01/10/2018
To ask the Scottish Government how many households in each local authority area have (a) applied for and (b) received support for (i) loft, (ii) cavity wall, (iii) room in roof, (iv) solid wall and (v) other forms of insulation from area-based energy-efficiency schemes in each of the last 10 years.

Question S5W-19128: Pauline McNeill, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 01/10/2018
To ask the Scottish Government how many households in each local authority area have (a) applied for and (b) received support from the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS) in each of the last 10 years.

Question S5W-19129: Pauline McNeill, Glasgow, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 01/10/2018
To ask the Scottish Government how many households in each local authority area have (a) applied for and (b) received support for (i) a new boiler or heating replacement system, (ii) solar panels, (iii) air source heat pumps and (iv) biomass energy systems in each of the last 10 years.


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

Connected Towns Part 1 –  The Physical Space
Date: 24 Oct. from 1:30pm – 4:30pm.
Venue: Architecure + Design Scotland, Edinburgh.
The Physical Space: Attractive, Active, Accessible Places for All. Our session on 24 October will help you to join the dots where you are; helping connect people and place, through the creation of sustainable, multi-functional spaces; accessible to all. ‘Connected Towns – Part 2, The Digital Space’, follows on Wednesday 12 December.

Cockburn Annual Lecture – The Role of Urban Ecology in the Future of Edinburgh
Date: Thur 25 October 2018, 19:30 – 21:00.
Venue: Grassmarket Community Project, 86 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QA.
How should Edinburgh grow? Recently published population projections suggest that Edinburgh will grow by 28% over the next 25 years. This signals a strong economy able to create wealth and opportunity for its citizens and able to attract the key workers it needs to run its public services and fuel new enterprise. But it is also presents powerful challenges to the city. This multi-speaker lecture will look at examples of projects in other European places with the purpose of initiating an informed civic debate on how Edinburgh approaches this challenge while addressing associated problems of climate change and place quality.

Destination High Street: restoring vibrancy to Scotland’s towns
Date: Wed 7 November 2018, 09:30 – 17:30.
Venue: The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 2 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3NY.
This conference, organised jointly by the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS) and the Scottish Civic Trust (SCT) will explore the challenges faced by Scotland’s high streets and smaller town centres. Speakers will examine projects and schemes aimed at regenerating high streets and the conference will bring together experts on the subject tackling the issue from a range of perspectives. This is a rare chance to hear from people working at the cutting-edge of practice and policy.

Young Placechangers Residential
Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2018, 12:30 – Sun, 18 Nov 2018, 15:30.
Venue: Callander Youth Project Trust, Callander Hostel, 6 Bridgend, Callander FK17 8AH.
Is there anything you and your youth group would like to change about the place where you live, go to school or work? A space or park that could do with some improvements or changes to the way it is used? If the answer is yes, then this residential weekend is for you!


APD Training & Development
Our Advanced Professional Diploma (APD) is back for its second year, with options to take individual short courses.
These courses are taught by leading experts through a mixture of lectures and field trips. Some single days may be available. Contact us for further details.
Booking is essential and places fill up fast so book now to avoid disappointment! Visit www.engineshed.scot/learning/diploma to learn more or email us at technicaleducation@hes.scot.

APD – Sustainability in the Historic Environment
Date: 29 October. Taught a day a week over 3 weeks; 15.5 taught hours
Venue: The Engine Shed, Stirling, FK8 1QZ
An increasingly important issue, this module examines the impact of heritage conservation on the wider environment and economy and ways to protect scarce physical resources for the future.
Price: £315. Booking essential.

Surface Repair of Stone
Date: 13 – 14 November 2018
Venue: Merryhill Training Centre, Fife KY11 3DR
This course will cover the how to carry out a successful surface stone repair with an understanding of the materials and when and where it may be appropriate. n many cases, simple surface repairs can be less intrusive and a suitable alternative to replacing masonry units with new stone. You will be amazed at the results you will be able to achieve after only two days! This course is designed to ensure successful surface repairs to flat work, angles, corners and moulded details. The decay mechanisms of stone will be discussed and we will consider the factors to that should be taken into account when deciding if a surface repair is a suitable alternative to replacement with new stone.

CE2 Masonry Consolidation Techniques for the repair of historic buildings and structures
Date: 16 November 2018
Venue: Charlestown Workshops, Fife KY11 3EN
This workshop is the follow on course from CE1 Introduction to lime based mortars and traditional materials for the repair of civil engineering structures and covers two major techniques for consolidating masonry structures, namely grouting (with a liquid mortar) and concealed crack stitching. These are techniques that may be applicable for the repair of masonry arch bridges, culverts, tunnels, lighthouses, viaducts, canals, harbours, retaining walls, piers and other masonry structures which contribute so much to the richness of our heritage. This one day workshop focusses on remedying voids in traditional masonry buildings and structures in a sympathetic manner using traditional lime and natural cement bound mortars in liquid form to enable grouting. Techniques of crack stitching (for dormant cracks) will also be addressed using a variety of methods and materials to suit the various scenarios that might occur in heritage buildings and structures. This workshop is a mix of theory and practical hands-on work.


Senior Project Officer: My Place Mentoring
The Scottish Civic Trust is looking for a Senior Project Officer for the My Place Mentoring programme, which will run over three years and build skills, knowledge and connections in Scotland’s community groups. Its aim is to empower disenfranchised communities in Scotland to engage with their local environment in a meaningful way that changes spaces and places for the better.
Submit your application by 26th October 2018.

Volunteering with Doors Open Day
The annual free festival of Scottish architecture and cultural heritage is looking for volunteers.  Why not join our team and help with the evaluation process for 2018.


Lauren Pennycook, Policy and Development Officer, Carnegie UK Trust, reflects on their latest report published this week and the challenges facing Scotland’s towns.

The places where we live are critical to our wellbeing. The physical and social structures of our cities, towns, villages, and islands provide us with economic and social opportunities; formal support systems in local public services; and informal support systems in the relationships with our friends, families, and neighbours. From small rural settlements to large urban cities, in upland, lowland, and coastal communities, where we call home provides us with a unique sense of place, identity, and shared history which shapes the local narrative about where we live.

And a town is where millions of us across the UK and Ireland call home. What our towns are ‘known for’ – an industry, a prominent historical figure, or renowned architecture – forms part of the local, positive story about where we live. But in direct contrast to this, in national policy the narrative is largely negative and one of decline. Our towns are defined in relation to the nearest city – as ‘commuter’, ‘satellite’ or ‘dormitory’ – or by their past – as ‘former-coal’ or ‘post-industrial’ – in need of regeneration, resilience or future-proofing.

According to Malcolm Fraser, Chair of the National Review of Town Centres External Advisory Group, here in Scotland ‘[t]he argument is generally accepted, that bustling cities are a nation’s economic powerhouses, where social and cultural interaction drives innovation and wealth-creation. Scotland would benefit from more big-city-bustle. But big powerhouses also need a network of vigorous, smaller centres around them, and some of our town centres have lost that drive.’

Has such a framing of towns at the national level influenced the priorities, funding, and focus of our governments in developing place-based policies? The Carnegie UK Trust’s provides an overview of the main policies and initiatives designed to improve economic, social, environmental, and democratic outcomes in places across the jurisdictions. At the regional level, the impact of City Deals and related cities policy is rendering the regions surrounding powerhouse cities, and their composite towns, as the secondary focus for investment. As the initial City Deal agreements do not provide full details on timescales and the location of all investments, as seen in the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, it may take longer for some areas to reap the benefit, and as such there have been mixed reactions to the plans from local government and the business sector.

Equally dominant in the place-based approach taken by governments across the jurisdictions is investment in rural areas, which includes surrounding towns on the basis that they are in fact vital, if only for the economic development of rural areas. Integrating towns into rural policy assumes that supporting rural areas with a range of goods and services is the primary function of nearby towns, but there is very little data available to support this expectation.

The operating assumption appears to be that investment in nearby cities and rural hinterlands will inevitably lead to improved outcomes for their surrounding towns, despite towns being fundamentally different socio-economic geographies which require their own dedicated policy solutions to improve their performance.

While locally, policies are operating at a sub-town level. In Scotland, the focus is on town centre regeneration and community-led regeneration – focusing on physical parts of a town or individual communities with it – to the detriment of the wider town in which they sit. But the issues experienced by Scotland’s towns go far beyond the boundaries of their town centres or one community. As a result, this approach is piecemeal – austerity meaning that it never translates into anything more than the sum of its parts to consider the town in its totality.

This dual focus – on the external city or surrounding rural hinterland and internal sub-town community or part of a town – means that towns are a neglected area of public policy. They are rarely taken as the starting point for formal policymaking, or have the policy levers available to them to influence their fortunes.

So what can be done to address this policy gap? The rhetoric of devolution needs to be matched with the reality of more decision-making powers for towns; more data about towns and evidence about what works; and more opportunities for towns to work together. From international initiatives such as the World Towns Framework, to the UK cross-border such as the Borderlands Initiative, to the more immediately local such as the South of Scotland Alliance, there are opportunities for towns to share skills, knowledge and resources. These must be built upon to share successes, and challenges, to improving our places.

Of all the jurisdictions of the UK and Ireland, Scotland is well placed to take steps towards addressing this policy and advocacy gap. Scotland’s Towns Partnership is unique across the jurisdictions as a dedicated resource for information, advice, and sharing of expertise regarding the development of towns in Scotland. Given that towns are a system of component parts and affected by a large number of policy areas – housing; transport; economic development; culture; heritage; land ownership; and regional development, more organisations with a range of remits should join in the debate about how to improve Scotland’s towns. Because only through greater collaboration will towns and their practitioners have the strength in numbers to hold their own in the national policy arena with the well-resourced organisations advocating for the interests of cities and rural areas. Only through greater collaboration will it be time for towns.


Follow the Carnegie UK Trust on Twitter: @CarnegieUKTrust



Tam McGarvey, Fundraising and Communications Lead at GalGael, tells us about the work of GaleGael and reflects on the importance of building community.

Heritage has been a vital element in GalGael’s work from the outset. Early on we recognised that many people had become disengaged from heritage- and by that I mean natural and cultural heritage, historical narrative, traditions, values, work and identity. Much of this disconnection may be down to economic and political factors, possibly for ideological reasons rather than reasons of economic necessity.

As was raised at the BEFS event, there is probably class issue and a certain amount of elitism in some areas of the heritage sector though there are plenty of examples where we can see people of different backgrounds working successfully together. I would cite GalGael as an interesting example. In our experience shared values can bring people together around a common cause they wish to support in a heritage context, maybe out of a spirit of shared intent to create something special.

On another front, while Glasgow has free access to many of its heritage attractions, many of Scotland’s historical sites cannot be accessed or enjoyed by people who are economically disadvantaged because; they don’t have the funds for admission or fares, especially if they have a family. They often don’t have a car, they are not sure what is out there and have some difficulty at first interpreting what they are looking at, maybe because it is the history of elites for instance, which may make it seem irrelevant to them. There may be a feeling that heritage is “for those other people”. However, having taken many groups to such venues there has been much improvement and our groups are often offered free access or a good concession, though less so if they go in their own time.

Galgael started out by building a traditional style of boat with hundreds of years of history behind it. Sourcing and working with the wood alone instilled a respect for the natural environment. Building the boat itself opened up swathes of fascinating history and GalGael folk from that time can still hold an informed conversation on the Statutes of Iona or the Lords of the Isles. Also, the medieval stone carvings of these boats in places like Rodel on Harris or images from the Govan Stones are frequently replicated in wood at GalGael.

I stressed at the event on a few occasions that the basic concept of our work is pretty simple (though it takes a huge effort to put it in place). As our founder Colin MacLeod put it; “We provide a venue, some tools and a bit of respect”. After that much of the healing or more therapeutic work takes place very informally through reconnecting with the work ethic, social interaction, teamwork, sharing similar experiences, advocacy and mutual support- with some training and a bit of leadership from GalGael staff and volunteers. The people who do the most powerful work are the people who attend. The staff learns from the participants and volunteers as much as the other way round.

Often we find people are becoming happier in themselves, building their confidence (we score highly on that), relationships have improved, medication often reduces and there is a decrease in negative forms of behaviour. Why? Because we have simply created and nurtured an environment for these things to take place- we have created a viable model of community. Why again? Because these are many of the basics of life that have been stripped from some sectors of society- in the name of a flawed notion of economic progress. Community is often seen as a barrier, and sometimes heritage is too, if it cannot be sufficiently commoditised and both are frequently “built over” by developers. From a community perspective much of the energy of our politicians has been weighed heavily towards favouring the private sector and communities are often sidelined in the process. These communities were traditionally “for” something, in the case of Govan it was shipbuilding and textiles, but many have lost their former prominence or identity. Perhaps heritage could be part of a strategy to regenerate communities, using the past to inform the future. Many grass roots organisations are embracing small scale local food production, small scale energy production, crafts and various other initiatives to regenerate from a grass roots level.

It has often been noted in GalGael that suppressed human instincts resurface when people engage with work, story, nature and community. We all eat together too which is vital. I would love to know how much the state has saved by these kinds of interventions by projects such as ours. In fact, intervention is the wrong word, as the community of people at our benches do the best of work themselves and heritage is very much at the heart of it.


Nick Wright, Convenor RTPI Scotland, recounts his key message from BEFS Annual Lecture that planners have a vital role in delivering ‘healthier places’.

BEFS (Built Environment Forum Scotland) this week organised an evening seminar asking: How can the planning system contribute to wellbeing in a fairer Scotland? Alongside Alex Neil MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights and Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde, I was delighted to represent RTPI Scotland on the panel. The evening was chaired by Petra Biberbach, Chief Executive of PAS.

Alex Neil began the evening by emphasising the absolute need for planning to create healthier places. Harry Burns then described how those healthier environments might look and feel. I felt it was then my turn, as the planner, to take up the vital challenge of explaining how we might deliver those healthier places.

This post recounts what I chose to say. My key message was that planners have a vital role in delivering the ‘healthier places’ that Alex Neil and Harry Burns rightly say are so important for our future. 

Back to our roots

Health and wellbeing shouldn’t be unfamiliar territory for the planning profession. Our roots lie in Victorian health and sanitation concerns. But planning moved away from those Victorian public health concerns in the 20th century, a reflection that cholera, typhoid and smallpox are no longer the issues in our towns and cities that they once were.

Health and wellbeing have, however, returned to the top of the UK planning agenda in the last decade. Not due to a re-emergence of deadly infectious diseases like cholera; but linked to pollution, lack of exercise, obesity and – as Sir Harry explained very articulately – a lack of empowerment over many of our lives and our communities.

Isolated examples

There are some excellent Scottish examples of planners trying to address health and wellbeing. For example, the nine Equally Well pilots promoted by the Scottish Government while Sir Harry was Chief Medical Officer, including one in Glasgow’s East End that I was was fortunate enough to work on with Glasgow City Council and Willie Miller Urban Design.   The East End pilot took forward Harry’s premise that planning for health and wellbeing (or wellness, to use Sir Harry’s preferred term that is more encompassing of mental and spiritual well-being) is not just about physical environment interventions – less air pollution,walkable neighbourhoods, access to greenspace for recreation and nature – but also greater empowerment for individual people over their lives and the future of their community. In other words, a more engaged and empowered community is likely to be a community with greater levels of individual wellness.

The trouble is, examples like the Equally Well pilots are relatively isolated.  Although physical interventions like more greenspace, less air pollution, more carbon reduction and more walkable neighbourhoods are now finding their way into planning policy, we are only slowly making Harry’s link between community empowerment and health/wellbeing.

But there is a big opportunity here. The Scottish Government’s clear focus on community empowerment and the Review of the Scottish Planning System means that planning is in an ideal position not only to support community engagement and empowerment, but to link it more explicitly with health and wellbeing.

I explained in the seminar that, from my perspective as a planner, there a number of ways of achieving that. For example:

  • Keep on mainstreaming the physical interventions about walkability, carbon reduction, pollution and greenspace in planning policy, masterplans and other plans.
  • Better integrating spatial planning and Community Planning – a much talked about but rarely achieved challenge, with a few local authorities including Angus, East Ayrshire, Fife and North Lanarkshire pioneering new approaches that can lead led to joint initiatives between town planners, community planning and the NHS.such as Motherwell town centre’s dementia-friendly garden.
  • Learn from excellent initiatives like Glasgow Centre for Population Health, which has for a number of years worked hard to link various public sector players around a central agenda of health and wellbeing.
  • Genuinely give more opportunities to empower communities to shape their places. This is one of the stated objectives of the current Planning Review – which is why RTPI Scotland’s response, alongside others, put forward suggestions to the Planning Review such as more community engagement early on in the formulation of plans (to give communities more influence) and more mediation (so the locus of control of a community’s future remains closer to them, rather than centralised to a distant ‘authority’).

Planners as brokers

There is another way that planners can support better health and wellbeing. It’s perhaps less obvious, but potentially very powerful. It’s by thinking of ourselves as brokers.

Let me illustrate this through an example.

I am currently working on Community Action Plans for three villages in South Lanarkshire: Coalburn, Douglas and Glespin. They have been with wave after wave of job losses and challenges of rural isolation (although they do also have wonderful levels of community activity and resilience). Just last week, I was speaking to a local GP who said that the most intractable problem for these communities, in his view, was disengaged young men causing misery in their communities.

Those words really struck me. What on earth, I thought, can land use planning possibly do to solve such a challenging social and economic issue?

At face value, I thought, nothing. Planning policy, planning applications and Local Development Plans can only fiddle at the edges. But, reflecting on it, I realised that there is actually a great deal that I can do – if I recognise that I am a broker.

I can organise a meeting or workshop to broker that GP meet with social enterprises, businesses, housing associations and local authorities who might never otherwise have met, but who all have a shared interest in making those communities better; who knows what collaborations might come out of those conversations to help the disengaged young men. Equally, the Community Action Plans that I will help produce can overtly support local employability initiatives or improved access to opportunities, increasing their ability to tap into community benefit money from windfarms or other sources of funding.

So – there are very real things that I, as a planner, can do to help those disengaged young men lead healthier and more fulfilled lives. Simply by realising the power that I have as a broker, I personally can do something very significant to deliver the built environment and improve people’s lives. All we need to do is make connections and get people talking.

Nick Wright, Convenor RTPI Scotland.