Leader: Edinburgh’s historic buildings must not be allowed to crumble

The poor condition of Edinburgh buildings represents a threat to the citys World Heritage status. Picture: Ian Georgeson.

The poor condition of Edinburgh buildings represents a threat to the citys World Heritage status. Picture: Ian Georgeson.

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The beauty of Edinburgh’s Old Town is world-renowned - and with good reason.

It’s winding closes and historic streets prove a draw to locals and tourists alike, while its iconic landmarks deliver a unique backdrop for its cultural festivals.

Alarm bells should be ringing in response to a worrying report which warns that “complacency and lack of attention” over the city’s historic buildings is threatening its status as a Unesco world heritage site.

Nearly three quarters of buildings in key Old Town thoroughfares are in need of repair, according to the survey by Edinburgh World Heritage (EWH).

These buildings must not be neglected as they play a vital role in the cultural heritage of the Capital - and Scotland - while the growing crisis could cause long-term damage to tourism. Important questions must be asked about the safety aspect of decaying buildings, as crumbling or compromised stonework will eventually fall to the ground.

No one needs to look too far back for evidence of how dangerous such situations are.

It is the owner’s responsibility to maintain a building, but the statutory repairs scandal will have caused some of the damage here.

It is quite possible that buildings have gone without repair because of the fall-out from the multi-million pound scandal, where residents complained of overcharging and shoddy work.

Edinburgh World Heritage is right to call for homeowners to take responsibility of historic properties, as everyone must work together to ensure the future of the city.

But after the repairs scandal, trust must be built with owners first - and fast.

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