BEFS Bulletin – Why Flats Fall Down

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

Artwork by Mitch Miller ©


BEFS welcomes the Scottish Government’s response to the recommendations in the final report of the Scottish Parliamentary Working Group on Tenement Maintenance. The working group is meeting this evening and BEFS will update regarding further plans in due course.

As part of the work of the working group, BEFS commissioned Professor Douglas Robertson to write the report ‘Why Flats Fall Down: Navigating shared responsibilities for their repair and maintenance’, with financial support from Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Property Managers Association Scotland and the Scottish Government.

BEFS issued this briefing paper to all MSPs ahead of today’s ‘Sustainable Development Goals in Scotland, On Target for 2030?’ debate in the Scottish Parliament (12.45pm). Follow the debate on parliamentary TV. BEFS contributed to the UWS-OXFAM report in relation to UN:SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities. Read the report here.

In April 2019, Historic Environment Scotland commissioned DC Research to carry out an evaluation of the delivery and impact of Our Place in Time – The Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland. This is the evaluation report, covering five years of the 10-year strategy. The fourth annual performance report for Our Place in Time, which covers the period from April 2018 to March 2019, is also available here. The report includes a selection of historic environment case studies collated by BEFS. The complete database of case studies can be viewed on our website here. Case studies can be submitted via BEFS website throughout the year.

RTPI Scotland is embarking on a project to support the early stages of preparation of National Planning Framework 4. Their survey and call for evidence is looking for your reflections on how NPF3 has worked, and your ideas for improvement in NPF4.

BEFS Board Member, Tyler C. Lott, provides a thought-provoking perspective based on her research into the challenges and opportunities of Scotland’s transient visitor levies, in our first blog of the year: Waiting for the Levy to Break: Suggestions for the Hypothecation of Scotland’s Transient Visitor Levies.


Planning for Scotland in 2050: National Planning Framework 4 – Call for Ideas
Call for Ideas runs until 31 March 2020.

Scottish Forestry Corporate Plan Consultation
Opened 8 January 2020 and closes 5 February 2020.

Energy Efficient Scotland: Improving energy efficiency in owner occupied homes consultation
Opened 19 December 2019 and closes 26 March 2020.

What makes a strong and vibrant community? Asks Local Government and Communities Committee
Closes 22 Jan 2020.

National Library of Scotland Draft 2020–2025 Strategy
Closes on 27 Jan 2020.

Proposed programme for reviewing and extending permitted development rights (PDR) in Scotland
Closes 28 Jan 2020.

Proposed Remote Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill
Consultation closes on 31 January 2020.

Law Society of Scotland’s call for views: Consultation on aspects of planning obligations
Closes Monday 3 February 2020.

The Replacement of European Structural Funds In Scotland Post EU-Exit
Closes 12 Feb. 2020.

Planning Performance and Fees
Closes on 14 Feb 2020.

Housing to 2040: consultation on outline policy options
Closes on 28 Feb 2020.

The practice of cash retention under construction contracts
Closes on 25 Mar 2020.


Impacts of climate change on cultural heritage (MCCIP 15/01/20)

Community Engagement Baseline Surveys 2019 – Results Report (SLC 14/01/20)

Environmental Governance in Scotland after EU Exit (SPICe 09/01/20)

Why Flats Fall Down: Navigating shared responsibilities for their repair and maintenance (BEFS 05/01/20)

Planning for Scotland in 2050: National Planning Framework 4 – Programme of Engagement (SG 01/20)

The National Islands Plan (SG 27/12/19)

The Place Principle – Our contribution to place-based working (SNH 12/2019)

Tenement maintenance report: Scottish Government response (SG 20/12/19)

Architecture & Design Scotland Annual Review 2019 (19/12/19)

Evaluation of Our Place in Time 2014-19 (HES 18/12/19)

Our Place in Time Annual Report 2019 (HES 18/12/19)

Scottish Government’s Response to Empty Homes Report (SG 17/12/19)

Take Back the High Street Putting communities in charge of their own town centres (NLCF)

Repeopling Emptied Places (SLC)

Sustainable Outcomes Guide (RIBA 12/12/20)

The Estimated Costs of Improving the Energy Efficiency of Scotland’s homes (Citizen’s Advice Scotland 12/19)

Scottish Government News Releases

Regulating short-term lets (SG 08/01/20)
Local authorities are to be given new powers to regulate short-term lets where they decide this is in the interests of local communities.

Regenerating Scotland’s Communities (SG 05/01/20)
Projects benefitting from over £138 million of funding have the potential to create more than 7,000 jobs across Scotland, according to analysis of the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

Improving energy efficiency (SG 30/12/19)
Homeowners will be supported to make their homes warmer and cheaper to heat by improving their energy efficiency.

National Islands Plan (SG 27/12/19)
Scotland’s first National Islands Plan to improve the quality of life for island communities has been launched.

Maintaining Scotland’s tenements (SG 20/12/19)
Legislative changes being considered include, compulsory owners’ associations, building inspections every five years and a national reserve fund for repairs.

News Releases

‘Virtual tenement’ app being developed to help ensure repairs to crumbling Edinburgh homes (Edinburgh News 15/01/20)
An app is being drawn up by developers on behalf of the city council to create a “virtual tenement” to help bring the city’s stock of crumbing tenements up to standard.

Community Engagement Baseline Survey Report 2019 Results Announced (SLC 14/01/20)
Knowledge about land ownership and plans for land use differ between rural and urban communities, the Scottish Land Commission has discovered through a survey.

First council adopts Simplified Planning Zone to speed up housing development (SHN 13/01/20)
North Ayrshire Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to adopt a new Simplified Planning Zone (SPZ) which aims to stimulate development on a prime housing site.

National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) – Early Engagement now underway! (SGP 09/01/20)
2020 is shaping up to be a massive year for planning in Scotland; for how our transforming planning system will shape our places and our society over the years and decades to come.

Museums Galleries Scotland Announces Funding Changes (MGS 09/01/20)
Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) announce three changes to their grants programme as a development of their responsive grants system in order to further support the sector.

Shaped by Industry (HES 08/01/20)
Join Niamh Crimmins as she celebrates 30 years of the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland and explores the history of Grangemouth through survey fieldwork and the HES Archives.

RICS issues final call for awards entries (SCN 07/01/20)
Now known as the RICS Social Impact Awards, the award’s programme has been refreshed to demonstrate the changes the membership body is seeing across business and society.

Place Planning for Decarbonisation (A&DS 19/12/19)
To support the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackle climate change and achieve a target of net-zero carbon by 2045, Architecture and Design Scotland is working with the Scottish Government Climate Change Division.

10 steps to diversify your workplace (CIfA 09/12/19)
CIfA’s Equality and Diversity Group have produced a short 10 step guide to help organisations to diversify their workplace.

Opinion & Comment

VAT must be cut for construction sector to recover, says FMB (FMB 14/01/20)

The case for … never demolishing another building (Oliver Wainwright 13/01/20)

One Planet Development: the opportunities and challenges of a living countryside (RTPI 10/01/20)

Climate change: COP26 Glasgow will provide world stage for Scotland’s green innovation (University of Strathclyde 08/01/20)

I’ve been polluting the planet for years. I’m not an oil exec—I’m an architect (Stephanie Carliele 03/01/20)

Can an historic building be a green building? (Melissa Osborne, Trident Building Consultancy 18/12/19)

Valuing the Planet through the Built Environment (RICS 18/12/19)

A Great Carbon Reckoning Comes to Architecture (Andrew Grey 09/12/19)

How we can recycle more buildings (Seyed Ghaffar, Associate Professor in Civil Engineering and Environmental Materials)

Townscapes: Scotland’s mixed fortunes (Bennett Institute for Public Policy)

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-26907: Jackie Baillie, Dumbarton, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/01/2020
To ask the Scottish Government how many planning (a) practitioners have been employed and (b) applications have been decided by each local planning authority in each year since 2012-13

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-26732: Mark Ruskell, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2019
To ask the Scottish Government when it plans to publish a draft Climate Change Plan, and what time period will be allocated for parliamentary scrutiny of this.
Answered by Roseanna Cunningham (13/01/2020)

Question S5W-26496: Michelle Ballantyne, South Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/11/2019
To ask the Scottish Government which (a) communities and (b) organisations will receive support from round five of the Coastal Communities Fund.
Answered by Roseanna Cunningham (17/12/2019)

Question S5W-26680: Alex Cole-Hamilton, Edinburgh Western, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 17/12/2019
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on what measures it is taking to help homeowners obtain fire safety certificates for cladding to high-rise buildings, in light of reports that lenders have started refusing to approve mortgages for properties without these.
Answered by Kevin Stewart (07/01/2020)

Other Parliamentary Activity

Local Government and Communities Committee debate on motion S5M-20280, in the name of James Dornan, on empty homes in Scotland, on 7 January 2020.


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

City for Sale? The commodification of Edinburgh’s public places
Date & time:  Wednesday 22 January 2020; 6:30 for a 7:00pm start
Venue:  Central Halls, 2 West Tollcross, Edinburgh
One of the defining issues currently in front of the City of Edinburgh is how we value our public places. Should our parks and gardens be an oasis of green-ness and tranquillity, or should they be the city’s performance hubs, the Go-To places for happening events and Festival activities? Facilitated by broadcaster Stephen Jardine, panel speakers will consider the impact on the city’s public places of an expanding festival and tourism industry, and potential threats and opportunities of the commercialisation of space in terms of civic and environmental well-being. Free.

RSA Scotland and CivTech: collaboration across sectors and SOSE
Date & time: Wed, 5 February 2020, from 13:00 – 15:30.
Venue: Easterbrook Hall, Crichton Campus, Dumfries DG1 4TA.
RSA Fellows and guests from across the private, public and third sectors are invited to register to hear Barbara Mills and Mark Elliott speak about the work of CivTech, and the options for purposeful collaboration between, and involvement by, the private, public and third sectors across the Dumfries and Galloway and the future SOSE area.

Glasgow Potteries and the British Empire
Dates, Times & locations: February 10 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm in Edinburgh (NMS Auditorium).
February 11 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm in Aberdeen (Meston Building Lecture Theatre One, University of Aberdeen).
Lecture by Graeme Cruickshank MA AMA FMA FSAScot (independent scholar).
The Scottish potteries of the industrial era produced vast amounts of wares, with dozens of factories in a number of towns producing millions of items annually, far more than the domestic market could assimilate.  Huge quantities of goods were exported, decade after decade, with the erstwhile British Empire being a prime target.  The potteries of Glasgow took advantage of the situation with unparalleled zeal.

Heritage-Based Regeneration: A SURF People and Sector Connector Gathering 
Date & time: 13th February, 10am-1pm.
Venue: CoSLA Conference Centre, Edinburgh.
An opportunity for local authority officers with responsibilities for any aspect of place-based regeneration to engage in constructive and informed discussion around the themes of heritage, local traditions and historical assets. Participants will explore, from the perspective of Scottish local government, the opportunities and challenges associated with undertaking heritage-based activities that contribute meaningfully to the regeneration of economically challenged places. Guests will hear about the realities of progressing heritage-based regeneration initiatives in the current context in two SURF Alliance for Areas in Argyll and Glasgow. They will also have the opportunity to share experiences and learn about evolving national priorities.

Henry Edward Clifford (1852-1932) – Pollokshields Architect
Deat & time: Event date change to 20 February 2020 – Coffee / tea at 7pm; Lectures start at 7:30pm.
Venue: The Renfield Centre, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow.
Niall Murphy, Deputy Director of Glasgow City Heritage Trust introduces us to one of the key architects from Glasgow’s Golden Age and one that was a rare beast, the Glaswegian architect with a European reputation.

Integrative placemaking – addressing the ‘silos’ with collaborative approaches
Date & time: February 28 @ 8:30 am – 6:15 pm.
Venue: University of Dundee, Dalhousie Building, Old Hawkhill, DD1 5EN.
The places we live and work in are formed by an amalgam of policies, designs and decisions over time. Yet so many of the statutory, policy and behavioural systems pull in competing directions. ‘Working in silos’ has become one of the explanations for failed places at different scales. These can be competing or conflicting professional disciplines or authorities, client departments or organisations. Lack of collaboration or information sharing, lack of a shared vision or sense of purpose, or basic professional jealously can lead to dysfunctional, if not disastrous, outcomes for places and communities. The objective of this event is to explore how we can move towards a more integrated approach in the planning, design, engineering and management of towns and cities by informing, exploring and challenging silo mindsets & behaviours to better connect operational outputs with high-level objectives.

Buildings of the University of Glasgow, 1451-2020
Date & time: Event date change to 19 March 2020 – Coffee / tea at 7pm; Lectures start at 7:30pm.
Venue: The Renfield Centre, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow.
Nick Haynes, historic environment consultant traces the architectural history of the University from its origins in the High Street to the most recent developments at Gilmorehill.


Investment Officer
The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is recruiting an Investment Officer to help with the delivery of its objectives by supporting the work of the Investment Team. With the launch of a new social investment fund in 2019, this is an exciting time to join the Team and we are now looking for an enthusiastic and experienced individual to support the loans we make and the borrowers who benefit from our investments.
Deadline: 5 p.m. Friday 24th January.

Next Step Initiative Traineeships
The Ethnic Minority Career Museum & Built Environment Heritage Programme – 1 Year Traineeships now open!
2 Collection Engagement Assistant Traineeship’s (Museum & Galleries, Edinburgh) with bursary.
1 Open Museum Traineeship (Glasgow Life, Glasgow).
1 Glasgow Museum Events Traineeship (Glasgow Life, Glasgow).
Closing date 27th January 2020.

Skills Training and Outreach Officer
Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust is seeking an enthusiastic, organised and driven individual with a background in historic buildings conservation, and ideally with skills development experience, to join their team.
Closing date: 5pm on Friday 7 February 2020.