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Edinburgh warned to learn heritage lessons

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A stark warning has been issued to Edinburgh's development community - take heed of the city's heritage or face dire consequences.

That was the message in a new strategy document published by Edinburgh World Heritage on Tuesday.

In its first ever management plan, the organisation warned of lessons learned from fellow world heritage sites such as Vienna and Cologne, which have come under scrutiny from UNESCO for allowing towering commercial developments to overshadow their historic neighbours.

A spokesman for Edinburgh World Heritage said: 'It's no good ringing the [historic centre] with tall buildings for example. Settings and views into and out of the site are identified as significant.'

The document also highlights the importance of maintaining crucial green spaces. These include Princes Street Gardens, and the 'key wildlife corridor' of the Water of Leith.

Edinburgh World Heritage director Zoe Clark summarised the organisation's concerns. 'A vibrant economy is good for the World Heritage Site but a world class historic city centre can only help to attract business and investment,' she said.

In addition, the report lists a number of key problems needing urgent attention, including the poor maintenance of buildings and the destruction of streetscape by using unsuitable materials.

However, the group admits a £1 million conservation funding programme - financed by Edinburgh City Council and Historic Scotland - could go some way to correct heritage oversights.

by Rob Sharp

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