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Issue 94 - Safeguarding Scotland

Scotland Magazine Issue 94
September 2017


This article is 16 months old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Safeguarding Scotland

Listed buildings explained

Scotland is lucky to have a great number of structures – around 47,000 – that have survived the trials of time and today represent a significant contribution to the architectural and social history of the nation. These structures are integral to the Scottish identity, are vital to the sense of place that makes Scotland the nation it is today, and are viewed as some of the country's greatest assets.

To ensure that these buildings and monuments are preserved for future generations to enjoy, there is significant legislation in place to protect the most noteworthy and vulnerable sites – in particular, the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Scotland Act (1997) and the The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act (1979). It is worth noting that although we refer to listed 'buildings', these protections also extend to other structures such as sun dials, band stands, aqueducts, ruined castles, bridges, and more. For clarity, the distinction between a scheduled monuments and listed building is that the former doesn't have the prospect of a new use or any economic viability – such as a ruined castle or archaeological site. Whereas a listed building may be someone's home or a place of business.

According to Historic Environment Scotland, who manage the status of Scotland's listed buildings, that listable structures must have characteristics that: Help to create Scotland's distinctive character, are a highly visible and accessible part of our rich heritage, express Scotland's social and economic past, span a wide range of uses and periods, and contribute significantly to our sense of place.

A dedicated team of specialist researchers take the time to assess all applications for listed status, based on a special set of criteria that help them determine whether a structure is worthy of protection. These criteria are too lengthy to reproduce here but can be read by downloading Historic Environment Scotland's 2016 Policy Statement – it is avaiable online. Although many historic buildings are interesting, to be listed a structure must be particularly special in some way. This can include strong ties to a significant historical figure or event, in addition to architectural qualities. If protection is granted, owners are prevented from demolishing or unacceptably altering the structure in a way that would compromise its significance. Once listed, a building will be put into a category:

Category A
Accounting for around 8 per cent of all listed buildings in Scotland.
They are:
• of national or international importance, either architecturally or historically;
• largely unaltered;
• outstanding examples of a particular period, style or building type.

Category B

Accounting for around 50 per cent of all listed buildings in Scotland. They are:
• of regional or more than local importance;
• may have been altered;
• are major examples of a particular period, style or building type.

Category C

Accounting for around 42 per cent of all listed buildings in Scotland. They are:
• of local importance;
• lesser examples of a period, style, or building type;
• as they were originally constructed or only moderately altered.

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