1.         Old and New Towns of Edinburgh (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (C 728)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1995

Criteria  (ii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/728/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/728/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Urban Pressure; Fire

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/728/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2004

A blaze affected parts of the Old Town area of Edinburgh (Cowgate) on 7 December 2002. Regarding the World Heritage property the damage was limited to less than 1% of the whole area, that is, 13 out of nearly 4,500 registered historic buildings. Historic Scotland submitted a reactive monitoring report on 20 January 2004 on behalf of the State Party as requested by the Committee.

The State Party informed that the Edinburgh City Council is committed to ensuring that any redevelopment of the area will take full account of the character and the surviving medieval street pattern of this part of the World Heritage property. Edinburgh City Council carried out a public consultation exercise on the redevelopment of the site, after which the Council approved a planning brief on 2 October 2003. This planning brief focuses on the redevelopment of Cowgate/South Bridge area, situated in the core zone of the World Heritage property. The planning brief foresees that the redevelopment be carried out respecting the protection of the outstanding universal value of the property. The plan also seeks to secure a significant amount of new housing to strengthen the city centre and inner city community as well as to improve pedestrian movement through the property.  Furthermore, a data structure report, including background historical research was carried out by the Council’s archaeology service as a scientific basis for the redevelopment of the area.


From September 2003 onwards, the Centre has received letters of concern from citizens regarding the trial placement of large communal refuse bins in the streets of the Historic Centre of Edinburgh. While introduced since 1997 in other areas of the city, the refuse bins recently installed in the World Heritage property are particularly criticized for their negative visual impact on the architectural ensemble. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM


Decision Adopted: 28 COM 15B.101

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Noting the report received from the State Party (Decision 27 COM 7B.81),

2. Requests the State Party to provide a conservation plan and to ensure a coherent redevelopment of the World Heritage property;

3. Further requests the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre informed about the progress made in the reconstruction of the property as well as about the impact of the waste bins on the visual integrity of the property.