The following are my observations to the Scot Gov consultation document…
While funding is welcome, I am concerned about the delivery of the programme,
Working with existing built environment assets requires a different approach to that of developing major new build projects.
The expenditure of almost £2 billion pounds on built environment in 5 years as outlined on Page 7 requires careful planning and management. Particularly where the priority will be given to existing buildings.
The current mechanisms for delivery of heritage projects introduce significant delays. Initial project evaluation, design development, funding approval, planning and building warrant approval, tendering can take up to 5 years, before work can even begin on site. This will place a strain on the sector, with minimal work before year five, followed by an enormous pressure to spend in year five. Previous experience shows that work will be diverted to professionals and contractors with inadequate experience in heritage, resulting in inferior outcomes and acting as a disincentive to invest in training.
A system for managing the delivery of the investment needs to be developed in conjunction with the heritage sector to ensure that the outcomes can be delivered in practice and to avoid a significant underspend.
We note there will be a need for mapping, auditing and monitoring the condition of built environment assets as set out on page 13 at point number 3 and 23. This is a very important step in order to evaluate the outcomes and success of expenditure.
This will again require careful management considering the specialist skills needed to inspect and report on historic properties.
The importance of this point is further emphasised by the comments on climate change on page 15. Increasing rainfall will have a dramatic impact on the roof drainage of many historic buildings, which will not be able to cope. Failure of the rainwater goods will lead to water ingress and extensive damage to traditional buildings without intervention.
Inclusive growth/area based growth will require the mapping of resources and skills to direct investment in relevant sectors at a local level across Scotland, with discouragement of centralised approach to project delivery as outlined in page 24.
Question 3b – Indicators
There is a need to map and monitor resources and skills available locally in order to direct investment toward development of resources, particularly in rural areas. This will reduce centralisation. Centralisation of services causes rural depopulation resulting in housing pressures in the cities, results in increased road travel and carbon emissions for delivery of services and reduces the resilience of rural communities.
Question 3c – Assessment tools
The RIAS has developed a methodology of “Quinquennial Reporting” of historic assets that provides monitoring of the condition existing buildings on a five year cycle. This is robust and well tested. It should be expanded and developed to provide a national digital database of built environment assets. This will enable resource needs to be identified and interrogated at nation, regional and local levels.
There are teams developing and integrated digital quinquennial reporting framework but a lack of funding is delaying progress.