BEFS Bulletin – Sustainable Investment & Digital Skills

Get The Latest Built Environment News, Publications, Policy Developments, Vacancies And More.


Throughout 2019 and early 2020 BEFS, on behalf of the OPiT Built Heritage Investment group, has been continuing the development of the prioritisation strand of work. Further events, feedback, and consultation has taken place with a wide range of stakeholders and potential ‘users’, refining the thinking and documentation. Some of this feedback changed how the project was referred to; the prioritisation work has developed into the Sustainable Investment Toolkit (SIT). This Toolkit was due to be released for consultation by Historic Environment Scotland (on behalf of the OPiT group) in March/April 2020. Due to the COVID-19 situation this consultation has been understandably delayed. However, the SIT Toolkit can be found here. Further information on the development of the process can be found on BEFS Prioritisation page.

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020 was laid before the Scottish Parliament on 23 April and came into effect on 24 April 2020. The Order amends the GPDO to grant planning permission for certain development carried out by, or on behalf of local authorities or health service bodies for the purposes of  preventing, reducing, mitigating or controlling the effects of the current emergency caused by the spread of the COVID 19 virus and its impacts on public health. The amendment is time limited and will cease to have effect on or before 31 December 2020. You can also find a Policy Note on The Town and Country Planning (Miscellaneous Temporary Modifications) (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, which addresses public events, here.

Two of BEFS Associate Members have commented on these, and other recent amending legislation, with regard to the wider implications for public engagement in planning. You can read the full piece with comments from the Cockburn Association and Planning Democracy here.

Within the current £50m Heritage Emergency Fund, the National Lottery Heritage Fund are creating a new grant range of £50,000 – £250,000. They will be developing the detail for how to apply to these new grants in the coming week. Find out more.

BEFS is taking part in DASH – The Digital Attitudes and Skills for Heritage survey. It’s a free resource, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, that allows UK heritage organisations to capture a summary of key digital skills and attitudes of their staff and volunteers, and use this to support reflection and identify improvement opportunities for working better together. Many organisations are currently assessing their digital skills and involvement. 100 organisations are already signed-up. To read more and become a responding organisation (10 staff/volunteers needed per organisation) visit the website.

The Heritage Alliance are launching Heritage Digital, a digital skills training programme to build the capacity of heritage organisations across the UK. More details and how to register your interest or volunteer here.

We have updated our COVID-19 heritage funding and advice page and downloadable Pdf with the latest information.

Have you submitted your favourite historic environment project or initiative as a best practice case study for our database and the OPiT 2019 report? More details.

The IHBC’s 2020 Virtual School, Old Towns | New Futures – Heritage Reflections and Speculations from a Global Pandemic, on 19th June, brings together leading authorities and representatives from across and beyond the world of heritage, conservation, government and development to address the urban challenges from the global pandemic. More details on speakers and registration here.

Finally, check out the other online events and training available in the coming weeks below.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Call for ideas
Opened 5 May 2020 and closes 11 May 2020.

The Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee has launched a call for views on the impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s culture and tourism sectorsThere is currently no deadline for responding.

The role of evaluation and research in arts, cultural and heritage organisations

Scotland Business Survey – Impact of COVID-19 

The practice of cash retention under construction contracts
Closes 13 May 2020. 

Scottish public authorities sharing data: consultation
Extended closing date 15 Jun 2020.

Impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sectors – call for evidence
Extended closing date Friday 19 June 2020. 

Just Transition Commission – call for evidence
Extended closing date 30 June 2020.

Consultation Responses

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has published the findings of a survey into the progress of remediation work to improve fire safety in residential buildings.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – further information (SG 05/05/20)

Planning for Scotland in 2050 National Planning Framework 4 – Programme For Engagement Update April 2020 (SG 04/20)

Coronavirus (COVID-19): construction sector guidance (SG 01/05/20)

Talk of the Town: Supporting place based storytelling (UKCT 30/04/20)

Scottish Vacant and Derelict Land Survey 2019 (SG 28/04/20)

Scottish Vacant and Derelict Land Survey – site register (SG 28/04/20)

Which Local Areas are Most at Risk of Impacts of Coronavirus on Employment (RSA 27/04/20)

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on allocations for the housing sector (SG 26/04/20)

Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making (SG 23/04/20)

Coronavirus (COVID-19): planning guidance on pre-application consultations for public events (SG 23/04/20)

Coronavirus (COVID-19): culture and creative sector support (SG 23/04/20)

INFORM Guide: Tenement Maintenance (HES 23/04/20)

COVID-19 and our Towns (Centre for Towns 23/04/20)

Scottish Government News Releases

Aid for private rental landlords (SG 05/05/20)
A £5 million fund will offer interest-free loans to landlords whose tenants are having difficulty paying rent during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

£100m funds to help business (SG 03/04/20)
A £100 million package of additional grant support for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and newly self-employed people opens for applications later today.

News Releases

Public are asked to help identify Scotland’s archives (HES 06/05/20)
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has asked the public to help identify over 5,000 archive images which are now available online for the first time.

Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Update (SoAoS 06/05/20)
Society lectures are now available to watch free on YouTube. So why not have a quick look at the list of our filmed lectures to see if one is of particular interest? They cover a wide range of Scottish heritage, history and archaeology topics, the most recent lecture focusses on Bronze Age hoards and what they can tell us about Scotland 3,000 years ago. Also keep an eye out for rescheduled events on the website.

CICV Forum infographic offers key to understanding essential work (SCN 04/05/20)
A new infographic aims to provide greater clarity over essential work and help the public understand exactly what construction projects key workers can carry out.

Scottish Land & Estates calls for planning flexibility in rural communities (SHN 04/05/20)
Greater flexibility and a rural focus in the planning system is required if rural communities are to thrive in the future as the lasting impact of the coronavirus pandemic takes it toll, according to Scottish Land & Estates (SLE).

Coronavirus: National Trust ‘faces £200m losses this year’ (BBC 02/05/20)
The National Trust has warned it could lose up to £200m this year following the coronavirus outbreak – putting some of its key projects at risk.

Reallocating road space for walking, cycling and wheeling during COVID-19 (Improvement Service 30/04/20)
Watch the Webinar hosted by the Place Network Scotland and Improvement Service, on 30th of April 2020.

RTPI Awards for Research Excellence – open for Entries (RTPI 30/04/20)
The RTPI Awards for Research Excellence recognise and promote high quality, impactful spatial planning research carried out by chartered members and accredited planning schools from around the world. The awards are open for entries until Monday 18 May.

RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence 2020 (RTPI 30/04/20)
This year we rolled out the virtual red carpet as we came together online to celebrate the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence 2020.The details of the winners, commendations and finalists in this year’s awards.

Winners announced: My Place Photography Competition 2020 (SCT 30/04/20)
My Place Photography Competition is a Scotland-wide built environment photography competition for school age young people (4-18).  The theme for the 2020 competition was water, to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters.

Good Energy partnership to help Scottish cultural sector ‘go green’ (CCS 30/04/20)
A new collaboration between Creative Carbon Scotland and Good Energy will support Scotland’s cultural sector to go green.

£7.3 million of National Lottery cash bolster incredible efforts of Scottish community projects (NL 28/04/20)
The incredible efforts of Scottish community groups, their staff and volunteers are being recognised with £7 million of National Lottery funding announced today (TUESDAY 28TH APRIL).

£10 million to support pop-up active travel infrastructure (Transport Scotland 28/04/20)
To better enable physical distancing, the Scottish Government will fully fund a new infrastructure programme for pop-up walking and cycling routes or temporary improvements to existing routes.

Shaping our futures – Communities and the Right to Buy for Sustainable Development (SLC 26/04/20)
With the Community Right to Buy for Sustainable Development coming in to place this weekend, Land Commissioner Megan MacInnes looks at what it means for communities and for land reform.

Opinion & Comment

Coronavirus: we’re in a real-time laboratory of a more sustainable urban future (TC 27/04/20)

Socially connected, physically distant (PAS 23/04/20)

Retrofit empty homes and bring them into use, says new RetroFirst backer (AJ 21/04/20)

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-28434: Donald Cameron, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/04/2020
To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with creative sector leaders regarding COVID-19 funding for Creative Scotland, and whether it plans to allocate further funding to the creative sector beyond what it has already announced.
Answered by Fiona Hyslop (05/05/2020)

Question S5W-28430: Donald Cameron, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/04/2020
To ask the Scottish Government how much Creative Scotland has allocated to the (a) Creative Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund and (b) Screen Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund to support practitioners impacted by COVID-19.
Answered by Fiona Hyslop (04/05/2020)

Question S5W-28429: Donald Cameron, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 16/04/2020
To ask the Scottish Government how much it has allocated to Creative Scotland in relation to COVID-19 financial support.
Answered by Fiona Hyslop (04/05/2020)

Question S5W-28557: Alex Cole-Hamilton, Edinburgh Western, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 20/04/2020
To ask the Scottish Government by what date it will resume the work of the Sustainable Housing for Everyone (SHORE) standards, and for what reason it paused this workstream.
Answered by Kevin Stewart (27/04/2020)


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

Edinburgh World Heritage in conversation with…architects
Date & time: 6pm – 7.30pm Thursday 7 May 2020
Online: Zoom, free to attend
Is Edinburgh architecture at the dawn of a new ‘Golden Age’? Today’s Edinburgh skyline reveals not only the towers and spires of our renowned World Heritage Site, but also countless cranes and gantries which signify the biggest building boom the city has seen for many years. In this conversation with leading architects Rab Bennetts, Malcom Fraser, and Richard Murphy, we will look at how the city is changing and ask whether future generations will look back and call this a ‘golden age’.

Magical House Protection: The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft
Date & time: 15 May 2020 : 18:00 – 19:00
Venue:  Online
In this lecture Brian will talk about the evidence of witchcraft beliefs which has been discovered in the fabric of buildings throughout Britain and far beyond. Objects such as witch-bottles, dried cats, horse skulls, written charms and markings which have been carved onto surfaces are all testimony to these strong the beliefs which were once commonplace. Brian has been conducting research into the archaeology of magical building protection since 1999. He has a popular website and in 2019 his book, Magical House Protection – The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft was published by Berghahn Books. When not in lock-down he lectures widely for groups all over the UK and Europe.

Managing Maintenance – The Traditional Buildings Health Check Scheme
Date & time: 22 May 2020 : 18:00 – 19:00
Venue: Online
Tune in to hear Mitchell Fotheringham discuss the Traditional Buildings Health Check (TBHC), a pilot project funded by Historic Environment Scotland and Construction Industry Training Board, which operated in Stirling from 2013 to 2018. The TBHC’s main objective was to inform property owners on the condition of their pre-1919 buildings through a detailed report produced by building inspectors. The report prioritises all defects and maintenance issues and provides advice on the traditional methods and materials which should be used in their repair.

IHBC Virtual Conference OLD TOWNS | NEW FUTURES Heritage Reflections and Speculations from a Global Pandemic
Date & time: 19 June; morning & afternoon sessions.
Location: Online.
Current specialist takes on urban challenges from the global pandemic, with lead international experts including Carl Elefante, 94th President, American Institute of Architects; Cliff Hague, RTPI Past President; Carol Souter, former HLF CE, now Oxford; Prof, Plácido González Martínez, Tongji University; and more in IHBC’s ‘Virtual’ conference, 19 June, with wide-ranging expert talks, Q&A, polls, morning / afternoon options from only £15+VAT. Certified IHBC CPD.


Digital Heritage Lab – A Digital Skills Development Programme for Small & Medium Heritage Organisations in the UK
Digital Heritage Lab is funded through the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the Digital Skills for Heritage initiative. It is a free programme for small and medium heritage organisations seeking to develop their digital capabilities and capacity.

TRepair and Maintenance Case Studies –  Member Skill-Share
Date & time: 07 May 2020 : 14:00 – 14:45
Venue: Online
We are pleased to welcome SPAB member and surveyor Martin Hall to share some maintenance and repair case studies from his recent work. You can find out more about Martin and his work here.

Decorative Plasterwork in Traditional Buildings: History, Research and Conservation Techniques
Date & time: 12 May 2020 : 12:30 – 13:30
Venue: Online CPD Session.
William’s presentation will cover the development of decorative plasterwork from the mid-16th century to the present day and its appropriate repair. He will discuss changes of styles, materials and techniques over the centuries, and the challenges which face the craft today and in the future.

Identifying & dealing with buildings at risk – member skill-share
Date & time: 14 May 2020 : 14:00 – 14:45
Venue: Online
Join SPAB member and heritage consultant Bob Kindred for an online session on identifying and dealing with buildings at risk. You can find out more about Bob and his work here.

New Design for Old Buildings
Date & time: 19 May 2020 : 12:30 – 19:30
Venue: Online CPD Session.
An introduction, informed by the SPAB’s distinctive approach, to the principles of designing new work for old buildings, and to integrating alterations and additions sensitively and sustainably, whilst protecting historic character and fabric. Roger Hunt is an award-winning writer and blogger with a particular interest  in sustainable and vernacular architecture and the materials and techniques used in construction. His book New Design for Old Buildings (co-authored with Iain Boyd, with a foreword by Kevin McCloud) explores how effective contemporary design can give new life to the historic environment. He is also co-author (with Marianne  Suhr) of both the bestselling Old House Handbook and Old House Eco Handbook, recently republished in a second edition. He is also the author of Rural Britain: Then and Now, a celebration of the British countryside, Villages of England, and Hidden Depths, an archaeological exploration of Surrey’s past. Roger lectures on building-related issues and is a judge of annual awards for new housing. His latest renovation project is a 1900 house on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA.

Conversion of casemate 52, Fort Cumberland – member skill-share
Date & time: 21 May 2020 :
Venue: Online
This virtual session led by architect and SPAB member Deniz Beck will talk attendees through the conversion of one of the casemates of Fort Cumberland in Portsmouth into a traditional timber workshop, now used for renovating timber boats. Find out more about Deniz and her work here.

Heritage and Climate Change
Date & time: 03 June 2020 : 12:30 – 13:30
Venue: Online CPD Session.
Heritage can play a large roll in contributing to climate change solutions, but we also have to be cognisant of how climate change can affect heritage. Hear Managing Director of Carrig Conservation International Ltd. Peter Cox discuss how climate change can affect heritage, and how we can mitigate the effects. Peter Cox is Managing Director of Carrig Conservation International Ltd. and President of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Energy Sustainably and Climate Change.

Understanding Building Performance
Date & time: On Demand until 08 July 2020.
Venue: Online CPD Session.
Dr Robyn Pender is a Senior Building Conservation Adviser in Historic England’s Policy and Evidence directorate. A physicist with a PhD in moisture transfer in porous materials, and lead editor of the Building Environment volume in HE’s Practical Building Conservation series, she advises on all aspects of building performance, including damp, energy and carbon, and climate change issues. She will discuss the different methods of assessing building performance, and explain why environmental monitoring is important, particularly in old buildings. This is a pre-recorded session that was part of our 2020 CPD series.