BEFS Bulletin 349: Focus on planning, publications and BEFS Policy Map is released

Get The Latest Built Environment News, Policy Developments, Publications & Consultations


Whether it’s the time of year (financial year end for many), or just coincidence, this edition of the Bulletin seems to be delightfully publications and planning heavy.

Firstly, the Digital Skills Portal was launched this month by the Scottish Government and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland. The project is part of the Scottish Government’s Digital Planning Programme, and will provide planners with a hub for information about digital planning tools, training, and skills.

Several years after official adoption many aspects of NPF4 are now being implemented, or consulted upon. The guidance is out for implementing Chief Planning Officers; and there are three consultations (due end of May) looking at both Masterplan Consent Area, and Development Plan amendment regulations; as well as the essential issue of Investing in Planning.

The responses for Permitted Development Rights Phase 3 consultation have also been released, and Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS) have released their Climate Action Towns resource. You can read more about that in a blog, here.

We’d recommend taking a look at the plentiful Scottish Government publications released over the past few weeks (March is always a busy time of year for those).

BEFS is always interested to see new toolkits released and this month we’ve been having a look at  both the Purcell/City of London Heritage Building Retrofit Toolkit, and the UK Architects Declare, The Building Blocks Manifesto.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has announced the shortlist for the 2024 RIAS Awards, celebrating the best of Scottish architecture. The 17 projects showcase a diverse range of innovative designs from across the country – winners will be revealed later this year.

And finally, BEFS is pleased to announce the launch of our latest resource- BEFS Policy Map for Scotland’s Existing Built Environment, Spring 2024. This resource provides an overview of bills, strategies, tools, and publications – empowering stakeholders to navigate the complexities of the existing built environment.



Managing the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site
The City of Edinburgh Council
The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh were given World Heritage Status in 1995, recognising the striking contrast and quality in architecture between the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town. A Management Plan identifies issues and opportunities within the World Heritage Site and sets out priority areas for action to preserve and enhance the site. While the management plan covers a ten-year period, an action plan is developed alongside it focusing on a two-year period. The City of Edinburgh Council would like to hear your views on the new plan, specifically whether you feel they are doing enough to protect and enhance the Site, and any other ideas or suggestions which you may have.
Closes 8 April 2024

Conservation Management Plan for Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh
Edinburgh World Heritage & City of Edinburgh Council
Greyfriars Kirkyard is one of Edinburgh’s most iconic spaces. However, managing the site has become increasingly complex. Recognising the need for a new strategy, Edinburgh World Heritage and the City of Edinburgh Council have commissioned Kirkyard Consulting to develop a new graveyard Conservation Management Plan. This short survey will allow you to have your say about your experiences of Greyfriars and how you would like to see it managed in the future.
Closes 15 April 2024

Scottish National Adaptation Plan (2024-2029)
Scottish Government
The effects of climate change are already being felt by people in Scotland. That is why, as well as taking action to reduce emissions, we must also take steps to adapt to climate change. This consultation seeks your views on the Scottish National Adaptation Plan 2024-29. The final Adaptation Plan will only be effective if it is informed by Scots’ local and lived experience of climate change. During the public consultation period on this draft Adaptation Plan a formal public consultation will be opened on the Scottish Government’s ‘Citizen Space.’ Alongside this the Scottish Government will run a series of events tailored to both delivery partners and the public, to gather a wide range of views on the policy proposals in this draft Adaptation Plan.
Closes 24 April 2024

Enabling powers for Scotland’s Environmental Impact Assessment regimes & Habitats Regulations
Scottish Government
The Scottish Government are seeking views on proposed enabling powers that would better allow for future amendments to Scotland’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regimes and Habitats Regulations. These are key legislative frameworks which underpin environmental protection and assessment processes. The proposed enabling powers would help replace powers lost because of the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) and would help ensure the relevant legislation can remain fit for purpose in future.
Closes 13 May 2024

Masterplan Consent Area Regulations
Scottish Government
The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 introduced MCAs – which will enable planning authorities to take a place leadership role, by proactively consenting the type and quality of development they wish to see in their areas. The Masterplan consent area regulations consultation covers the type of development which can be authorised, potential locations for MCAs and the procedures for making a scheme. It includes two sets of regulations: covering the main process for making MCA schemes and relating to EIA of MCA schemes. The separate consultation on ‘Investing in Planning’ also includes proposals for recouping costs of preparing MCA schemes.
Closes 22 May 2024

Development plan amendment regulations
Scottish Government
With the move to National Planning Framework (NPF) and Local Development Plans (LDPs) having a review period of 10 years, the 2019 Act introduced the provision for them to be amended between full review cycles. This enables the planning system to respond where newly emerging matters arise.
The development plan amendment regulations consultation covers proposals for the regulations. The aim is for procedures to amend both NPF and LDP to be proportionate and to provide a process that is more responsive and streamlined, whilst balancing the need for robust justification, engagement, and scrutiny. This will ultimately give decision makers some flexibility of process, based on the scale and significance of the amendments.
Closes 22 May 2024

Investing in Planning
Scottish Government
This consultation on resourcing Scotland’s planning system is in response to current resourcing challenges. It builds on ideas generated in a stakeholder workshop held in November 2023 and sets out a series of proposals which aim to improve capacity and build resilience particularly within planning authorities.  In addition to inviting stakeholder views on the proposals outlined, the consultation encourages stakeholders to suggest further ideas on alternative ways to support delivery and build resilience.
Closes 31 May 2024

Compulsory Purchase Reform
Scottish Government
The Scottish Government have committed to reform and modernise compulsory purchase legislation. As a first step, they have established an advisory group to help support the reform programme. The group, to be co-chaired by the Chief Planner and Roseanna Cunningham, brings together several expert practitioners with first-hand experience of the compulsory purchase process. They recognise, however, that a range of organisations have an interest in this area and are consulting broadly and are keen to hear from a wide range of voices as the work moves forward.
Please get in touch at

Strategic Plan Survey
Scottish Civic Trust
The Scottish Civic Trust are refreshing their Strategic Plan. To inform their future activities they are surveying people across Scotland about key themes related to their work. All input will help them better empower Scotland’s communities to act for shared spaces and places. All survey results are anonymous and will be stored on a Google Drive to which only Scottish Civic Trust has access. Analysed and summarised survey results will be shared in reports to Scottish Civic Trust’s funders and may appear in their annual reports.



Home Energy Model: replacement for the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) – Consultation (BEFS 27/03/2024)

Permitted Development Rights review – phase 3: consultation analysis (Scot Gov 28/03/2024)

Guidance on Inclusive Design for Town Centres and Busy Streets (BEFS 29/03/2024)



The CO2mpare Database (Ramboll 06/03/2024)

Heritage Manifesto Refreshed for 2024 (The Heritage Alliance 14/03/2024)

Winners of the Costa Carras European Citizens Awards for the Safeguard of Endangered Heritage 2024 announced (Europa Nostra 21/03/2024)

City launches guidance for reducing carbon in historic buildings (Building Design 25/03/2024)



A Community-Led Study into the impact of NPF4 biodiversity policies (Planning Democracy February 2024)

The Heritage Manifesto 2024 (The Heritage Alliance February 2024)

The Building Blocks Manifesto (UK Architects Declare March 2024)

Digital Skills Portal (RTPI/Scottish Government 21/03/2024)

Housing Outlook Q1 2024 (Resolution Foundation 25/03/2024)

The running cost of domestic heat pumps in the UK (UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence 25/03/2024)

Heritage Building Retrofit Toolkit (Purcell/City of London Corporation 25/03/2024)



Correspondence between Lorna Slater and the Finance and Public Administration Committee regarding the Financial Memorandum for the Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill (Scot Gov 14/03/2024)

Correspondence between Mairi Gougeon and the Rural Affairs and Islands Committee regarding an issue found in the publication of the strategic environmental assessment screening for the Agricultural and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill (Scot Gov 19/03/2024)

Correspondence between the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee and Màiri McAllan on corrections made to Annexe J (Affordable Housing) of the Budget 2024-25 (Scot Parl 20/03/2024)

Housing statistics: Stock by tenure (Scot Gov 21/03/2024)

Local planning projects recognised (Scot Gov 21/03/2024)

Government saves over 80 community spaces from closure (UK Gov 23/03/2024)

Housing Statistics for Scotland Quarterly Update (Scot Gov 26/03/2024)

Housing Scotland Bill (Scot Gov 26/03/2024)

Correspondence between the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee and the Finance and Public Administration Committee regarding detail of the collaborative scrutiny of the review of National Outcomes (Scot Parl 26/03/2024)

Agriculture and Rural Communities Bill (Scot Gov 27/03/2024)

Environment Strategy: progress report – March 2024 (Scot Gov 28/03/2024)

Heat Network Projects: quarterly report – March 2024 (Scot Gov 28/03/2024)

Inspiring Connections: Scotland’s International Culture Strategy (Scot Gov 28/03/2024)

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2024 (Scot Parl 28/03/2024)

Correspondence between Audit Scotland and the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee regarding climate change governance (Scot Parl 28/03/2024)

Calls for second staircases in all new tall residential buildings (UK Gov 29/03/2024)

Council tax on second homes (Scot Gov 31/03/2024)

Building standards: procedural handbook – third edition version 1.7 (Scot Gov 02/04/2024)

Chief Planning Officers: guidance (Scot Gov 02/04/2024)

Planning permission appeals: housing development statistics (Scot Gov 02/04/2024)

Correspondence between the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee and Màiri McAllan on corrections made to Annex J (Affordable Housing) of the Budget 2024-25 (Scot Parl 02/04/2024)



Blog: New Year’s Revolutions: talking about resourcing and improving performance in Scotland (RTPI 28/02/2024)

What would a regenerative cultural sector look like? (Arts Professional 19/03/2024)

Why ‘fabric-first’ may be the wrong approach for retrofitting (Scottish Housing News 22/03/2024)

Video: Professor Mary Beard addresses ‘Who owns the past?’ (The National Trust 22/03/2024)

‘We’re barely hanging on’: England’s cultural jewels fall into the red (The Observer 24/03/2024)

George Square: how I changed my mind on its future (The Herald 25/03/2024)

New Compliance Plan Early Adopters Scheme for buildings classified as High Risk Buildings (The Building Standards Division 02/04/2024)



Link to Parliamentary Questions and Answers



AHSS Lecture – Facile Princeps: The Country Houses of David Bryce
Date & Time: Monday 8 April 2024; 6.30-8pm
Location: Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EL (wheelchair accessible). Also streamed online via Zoom.
David Bryce (1803–1876) was one of Victorian Britain’s most prolific architects, whose opulent, richly modelled architecture left a lasting impression on Scotland, where he led the revival of the Scottish baronial style. In this talk, Dr Ralph St Clair Wade, lecturer in the History of Art at Cambridge University, provides an introduction to Bryce’s country house practice and offers new insights into the architect’s work, drawn from his doctoral research. Tickets available from Eventbrite or on the door: £5 / students £2 /

RIAS/PHT Workshop – How can we deliver a Scottish Passivhaus Equivalent?
Date & Time: Tuesday 16 April 2024; 2.30-5pm
Location: Online
Join the RIAS/PHT Workshop to prepare for the launch of the Scottish Passivhaus Equivalent legislation in December 2024. The workshop features an expert panel representing clients, trainers, contractors, policy makers, and architects. Attendees will gain insights from case studies, engage in technical discussions, and participate in breakout sessions while networking with professionals across various fields.

Heritage Trust Network – A Future for Your Church
Date & Time: Thursday 18 April 2024; 10-11.30am
Location: Online
Are you a community group thinking about taking ownership of your local church? Are you already managing your church for the benefit of the community? This free online event is for you. Heritage Trust Network and Historic Churches Scotland are joining forces to host the next event in this series for any group contemplating the future of their church building. This event will explore future uses and financial models for three churches in Fife.

RTPI – Scottish Young Planners Conference
Date & Time: Thursday 25 April 2024; 9am-5pm
Location: Technology & Innovation Building, 99 George Street, Glasgow G1 1RD
Planning in Scotland is in the midst of exciting changes. Young planners are crucial for delivering on future aspirations for the planning system and the profession. This year’s conference seeks to reflect on the importance of young planning professionals and highlight the opportunities available to them to shape the future of the profession. This is a fantastic opportunity to build important networks with other young professionals and develop the critical skills needed to support young planners in their career.

Mill of Benholm Working Party 
Date & Time: Saturday 4 May 2024; 10-4pm
Location: Benholm, Montrose, DD10 0HT
The Mill of Benholm has been dormant for over a decade. Join SPAB Scotland on Saturday 4 May to help change that! They’ll be clearing vegetation from the lade and returning the much-needed water supply to the mill. They will also be joined by 2022 SPAB Millwright Fellow Owen Bushell who will give an introduction to the mill machinery and how it works.

SURF Awards – Shared Learning Workshops
Shared learning workshops with contributions from the winner and highly commended projects in the Removing Barriers to Employability, Housing and Regeneration, Improving Scotland’s Places and Community Led Regeneration, and Creative Regeneration categories in the 2023 SURF Awards.
Removing barriers to employability: SURF Awards Shared Learning Workshop
Date & Time: Thursday 2 May 2024; 10am-1.30pm
Location: Glasgow Women’s Library, 23 Landressy St, Bridgeton, Glasgow G40 1BP
Effective approaches to housing led regeneration – SURF Award Shared Learning Event
Date & Time: Thursday 9 May 2024; 10am-1.30pm
Location: Grassmarket Centre, 86 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QA
Delivering place-based regeneration initiatives: SURF Awards Shared Learning Workshop
Date & Time: Thursday 16 May 2024; 10am-1.30pm
Location: Kinning Park Complex, 43 Cornwall St, Glasgow G41 1BA
Using creativity in regeneration: SURF Awards Shared Learning Workshop
Date & Time: Thursday 23 May 2024; 10am-1.30pm
Location: Civic House, 26 Civic St, Glasgow G4 9RH

IHBC – Summer School 2024
Date & Time:  Wednesday 12 – Saturday 15 June 2024
Location: Reading Town Hall
Join the Institute of Historic Building Conservation in Reading (or online) for their annual school, exploring heritage conservation and planning challenges in managing buildings, property and places together. Discover new insights and old lessons when working with finance, policy and people; and examine sustainable management and conservation issues and opportunities, for areas, buildings, estates and fabric. Learn from expert practitioners and leading advisers and enjoy extensive networking opportunities either in person or online. Flexible, low-cost online delegate engagement options and bursaries available.
Booking open now



SPAB – An Introduction to Plain Lime Plastering
Date & Time: Friday 26 & Saturday 27 April 2024
Location: Heritage & Rural Skills Centre, Buscot and Coleshill Estate, Swindon SN6 7PT
Join SPAB for a practical course covering the mixing and application of lime plaster to lath, masonry, and modern substrates, including pricking up and base coats, float coats and setting coats. You will also get a brief introduction to running a cornice in-situ. This course is suitable for people with practical plastering skills. Experienced plasterers used to work in gypsum will particularly benefit from the course.

Scottish Lime Centre Trust – Masterclass on Conservative Repair of Modern Reinforced Concrete
Date & Time: Friday 26 April 2024; 9.30am-4pm
Location: Charlestown Workshops, Fife KY11 3EN
This master class delves into the principles and methodologies of conservation repairs for modern reinforced concrete structures, providing in-depth knowledge essential for engineers, architects, and construction professionals involved in the maintenance and preservation of concrete infrastructure.
As modern concrete structures age, they often face deterioration due to various factors such as environmental exposure, chemical attacks, and structural loading. Conservative repair techniques aim to address these challenges while preserving the integrity and original design intent of the structure.

SPAB – Photographing Old Buildings Online Workshop
Date & Time: dates from Wednesday 8 May to Wednesday 19 June
Location: Online
Whether you photograph old buildings for work or as a hobby, join SPAB on this always-popular four-step workshop with experienced professional photographer Ralph Hodgson. You’ll receive guidance on techniques and composition to develop your appreciation of the space and light of old buildings and to boost your confidence in photographing their textures, details and features. Spaces on this workshop are limited to allow for small group discussion. You’ll need some familiarity with DSLRs or mirrorless cameras and a few photography basics.



The Heritage Trust Network – Volunteering opportunities
Youth Forum
The Heritage Trust Network is seeking young people aged 18-30 who are interested in the rescue, restoration and management of historic buildings, structures and places who want their voice heard in the heritage sector. Volunteers will be involved in shaping the new Youth Forum; creating recommendations and advice to help members involve young people in heritage in a democratic way; co-designing, leading, and taking part in online and in-person events; and creating online content including social media posts, blogs, or vlogs.
If you are interested in joining, please fill out a short application form here

Digital Heroes Project Volunteer
Are you digitally skilled, interested in helping heritage organisations and available to volunteer? The Heritage Trust Network are seeking people based in Scotland to join their Digital Heroes project which matches up digitally skilled young people with one of their member organisations to help them undertake a digital project. Examples include doing social media posts, digitising an archive, or creating a digital marketing plan. If you are interested in volunteering as a digital hero, please fill out a short application form here