Managing the built heritage of Angus

The relationship between the history of a place and its modern role is one of constant change and adaptation.

The ownership, function and maintenance of historic buildings changes over time.

The planning authority has primary responsibility for managing change in the built environment. We want places to be looked after and maintained well so that they continue to have a beneficial purpose.

Our guidance encourages a ‘stewardship’ approach among owners, occupiers, agents and other organisations.

This can be embraced by everyone regardless of whether permission is required or not. We have framed our guidance in the context of legislation and national/local planning policies.

The principles underpinning this approach are:

  • understanding the contribution the built heritage makes to the local economy, visitor attraction, community cohesion and the personal connection we each have with places
  • the fundamental need for routine maintenance which helps prevent deterioration
  • recognising the need to allow for change
  • encouraging repair, reuse and adaptation of existing buildings as the most sustainable form of development
  • ensuring proposals protect and enhance the built heritage and allow for appropriate new development
  • the sustainability of traditional materials and the craft skills and workmanship in the fabric of buildings and places
  • avoiding waste arisings from unnecessary demolition and replacement, the consequent loss of embodied energy, need for waste disposal and the sourcing and transport of new materials

Most of the built heritage assets in Angus were constructed using traditional methods.

Traditional buildings are generally regarded as those built before 1919. They are an important part of Scotland’s heritage. Around 19% (455 000) of Scotland’s dwellings are traditionally built.

It is important to recognise that traditional buildings function in a specific way.

The relationship between the natural materials they are built with allows air and moisture to move through the building. This is why they are often referred to as being of ‘breathable construction’.

They might also incorporate architectural design elements which encourage water away from surfaces susceptible to water penetration.

‘Modernisation’ of traditional buildings can contribute to their deterioration. Inappropriate changes and alterations affect the ability of the building to regulate moisture. This, along with a lack of routine maintenance, puts the health of our traditional buildings and their occupants under threat.

All buildings need to be maintained whether they are two, twenty or 200 years old. Buying a property is a major investment. It is in the interests of property owners to maintain their properties.

Failure to attend to small issues can lead to significant problems that are costly to repair.

Keeping a building in a good state of repair helps retain its character and appearance. It also retains the character and appearance of the wider area.

In some circumstances we can take action to help ensure buildings are protected and well maintained.

Character has value too. A well-maintained town centre can have a positive effect on the local economy. Derelict or poorly maintained buildings have a negative effect on the appearance of the area and can impact the economic attractiveness of the place. Empty buildings discourage new business investment and visitors. Retaining original features and investing in good maintenance and repair can maintain property values.

Necessary building maintenance should have priority over cosmetic improvements. Maintenance should include addressing climate change adaptation and energy efficiency

The main cause of most forms of decay is water entering the building fabric. Planned maintenance should prioritise preventing water ingress and include these regular checks:

  • clear downpipes and gutters of debris and plant growth,
  • check pointing and render and remove plant growth from stonework,
  • check drainage in wet conditions to find leaks and blockages,
  • repair and repaint cast iron
  • roof coverings, ridges, valleys and chimneys checked to ensure they are secure and watertight
  • repair and repaint timber every three to five years to protect against timber decay

The Engine Shed, Scotland’s dedicated building conservation centre, provides advice on the maintenance and repair of traditional buildings.

Most traditional buildings in Scotland were designed to cope with our climate and its episodes of severe weather.

However, some structures may be less able to cope with the changing weather patterns caused by climate change. Buildings may be more vulnerable if they have been altered or neglected. Buildings in exposed locations, such as coastal areas or higher ground, are most at risk.

Historic Environment Scotland have produced Short Guide 11: Climate Change Adaptation for Traditional Buildings. It describes which parts of a traditional building provide protection against the elements. It also shows how improvements or adaptations can increase a building’s resilience to extreme weather events. This includes the internal environment within older buildings, and how this can be managed to cope with changing environmental conditions.

Owners should consider appropriate maintenance and upgrading to address climate change. Adaptations must be carefully planned to avoid unintended consequences. Bear in mind that planning permission/listed building consent and/or a building warrant may be required.

The growing emphasis on energy efficiency as part of the Government's carbon reduction targets is relevant to traditional and historic buildings.

The Scottish Government are setting standards to help eradicate fuel poverty, reduce energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Their aim is that homes and buildings are warm, dry and easy and affordable to heat. Measures include:

  • improving the energy efficiency of heating systems
  • insulating walls, roofs and floors
  • installing micro-renewables (solar, heat pumps and biomass boilers)
  • delivering air quality improvements

The aim is for all Scottish homes to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate rating of at least C by 2040. There are also plans to extend the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 regulations to cover all non-domestic buildings by 2040. Buildings will be improved insofar as it is technically feasible and cost-effective. (Route Map to an Energy Efficient Scotland)

These standards will encourage owners to improve the condition of their properties. There will be implications for the sale or rent of buildings that do not meet minimum performance levels.

It is possible to improve the energy efficiency of traditionally constructed and historic buildings, without compromising their building performance dynamics. The Engine Shed, Scotland’s dedicated building conservation centre, provides advice on how to improve energy efficiency.

Our starting point for managing change in the historic environment is:

  • protecting what is important
  • enhancing the quality of our heritage assets
  • preventing their loss as far as possible

Our 'Conservation Approach’ means good stewardship: “doing as much as necessary and as little as possible” in line with good traditional building practices. This approach promotes:

  • retain and repair as the first response
  • replace only when necessary
  • reinstate original features
  • reuse buildings ahead of removal (demolition) and redevelopment

Retain and Repair

Listed building consent may be required for repairs - please check.

The starting point should always be the retention of the building and its historic interest. Traditional building materials including stone, slate and timber are very durable when regularly and appropriately maintained. They lend themselves to repair in ways that many modern materials do not.

Repair of historic building fabric maintains the integrity of our built heritage. Materials should be a good match for and compatible with the original. Inappropriate repairs with the wrong materials can have unintended consequences. As well as being unsightly, they often exacerbate existing problems and cause longer-term damage.

Ask competent professionals to advise you. They will be familiar with the legislation and procedures. They will also have a feel for the qualities of historic buildings. Skilled contractors who understand traditional construction and building practices, will respond appropriately to neglect, ill-considered or unskilled building repairs, inappropriate treatment of materials and long-established decay. The adoption of a best practice approach may also provide continuing demand for such skills among local tradespeople.

Replace

Planning permission and/or listed building consent may be required - please check.

The aim should always be to restore character and enhance the quality and appearance of the building/area.

Where features are original to the architectural period of the property (or part of the building if built incrementally) or have been approved through the planning process, and have deteriorated beyond practical repair, their replacement on a 'like for like' basis may be appropriate.

For the avoidance of doubt 'like for like' in this context means the same material, details of construction and finish - the proposal must replicate the original or approved fabric as accurately as possible. Such alterations may be able to be agreed in writing, saving the cost of drawings and fees in many cases.

If any element is not identical or involves other changes which may have an effect on the character and appearance of a conservation area or affect the special architectural or historic qualities of a listed building, planning permission or listed building consent could be required.

Where the existing situation involves previous alterations of inappropriate design, materials or finish, ‘like for like’ replacement of that element would be unlikely to achieve necessary enhancement.

Reinstate

Planning permission and/or listed building consent may be required - please check.

Where buildings have previously been inappropriately altered and /or where important original detail has been lost over time, we encourage the reinstatement of authentic features.

Reinstatement should seek to accurately replicate what has been lost using appropriate materials, with work carried out by competent, skilled tradespeople. Some proposals for reinstatement may be able to be agreed in writing, saving the cost of drawings and fees in many cases.

Reinstatement of the character or appearance or historic/architectural interest through the removal of inappropriate alterations, which may be of inferior quality or detract from the building may also be appropriate.

A variety of sources can help identify original features. These include historic photos, plans or drawings. Existing features on the building itself can also help. One example is where an original shop fascia might be hidden beneath a modern one. Reference to neighbouring properties of a similar age can also help identify original features.

Reuse (conversion and changes of use)

Planning permission may be required for a change of use, planning permission and /or listed building consent will be required for conversion and internal/external alterations

Much of the special character of listed buildings, or buildings and spaces in conservation areas, comes from them being used for their original or long-established purpose.

These buildings also embody the skills, energies and knowledge of those who built them. This contributes to their significance and meaning.

Many buildings were built for a specific function. Examples include post offices, police stations, hotels, swimming pools, banks, churches, libraries and meeting halls. When that use becomes outdated or unnecessary, there are two significant challenges. One is finding appropriate alternative uses for the whole building. The other is providing for ongoing investment in maintenance of the structure while it is vacant. We encourage proposals for creative and sustainable uses for vacant and underutilised properties. These must be appropriate to the building and its position in the street. The retention of a suitable mix of uses in a particular location also helps ensure the future of buildings and places and can be important in preserving an area's character and vitality.

Removal (Demolition)

Conservation area consent or listed building consent is absolutely necessary.

Once lost, heritage buildings cannot be put back. Demolition should be regarded as the last resort once all other possibilities have been thoroughly examined. Pre-application discussions are encouraged to clarify the requirements of an application for demolition.

Listed Building Consent from us is required for substantial or total demolition of a listed building, and applicants will be expected to provide evidence to show that:

a. the building is not of special interest (if demolition is proposed on these grounds an application to delist the property could be made to Historic Environment Scotland before Listed Building Consent is applied for); or

b. the building is incapable of meaningful repair; or

c. the demolition of the building is essential to delivering significant benefits to economic growth or the wider community; or

d. the repair of the building is not economically viable and that it has been marketed at a price reflecting its location and condition to potential restoring purchasers for a reasonable period.

Conservation area consent from us is required for the total or substantial demolition of buildings with a volume greater than 115 cubic meters, and total or substantial demolition of structures within a conservation area.

Revitalise and Redevelop (New build)

Planning permission and/or listed building consent will be necessary.

The presence of vacant sites or neglected buildings in our communities can have negative impacts. Changes in our built environment are inevitable, and will sometimes involve the alteration and extension of listed buildings or the insertion of new buildings in conservation areas. Sympathetic, high-quality development can remedy negative effects and enhance the local area. Developments in historic settings do not need to look ‘old’ to be in harmony with their surroundings.

Development Principles

  • successful new developments often emerge from an awareness of the nature, form and history of the affected listed buildings or conservation areas. Submission of Design Statements are required
  • where the site is considered ‘significant’ due to its prominence, scale, visibility or relationship to other properties, proposals need to show how that significance has been taken into account
  • new additions should respect the character and appearance of the area in an innovative way. They should not seek to replicate earlier architectural styles but represent their own period and style. There is significant scope for contemporary architecture with inherent value which could, in future, become part of the historic environment
  • avoid modern interpretations of traditional vernacular features. These are often unsuccessful.
  • pay attention to orientation, building lines, street patterns, feus and riggs, scale and massing of buildings, heights, depth and patterns of window and door openings. Use local traditional materials and colours to ensure successful integration of old and new
  • new development should rely on the use of ‘traditional’ materials rather than mass-produced modular components. These age quickly, often go out of production and are not easily repaired or replaced.
  • maintain or enhance important open spaces, views and vistas
  • include sufficient detail to enable a proper assessment of the proposal. We do not accept applications for ‘permission in principle’
  • extensions : must protect the character and appearance of the building; should be subordinate in scale and form; should not be located on primary elevations; must be designed to a high quality and built with appropriate materials

Publications

New Design in Historic Settings Historic Scotland (May 2010). Guidance on principles to consider in designing new additions to historic settings.

Design Quality and Placemaking Supplementary Guidance 2018. Sets out our expectations for the design of new development and gives advice on how to meet them.

Managing Change in the Historic Environment : Extensions Historic Scotland (2010). The principles that apply to extending historic buildings. It should inform planning policies and the determination of applications relating to the historic environment.

Managing Change in the Historic Environment : Demolition of Listed Buildings (May 2019) This guidance should be used when the future of a listed building is uncertain and demolition is being considered as an option. It should not be used in isolation but read alongside the Use and Adaptation of Listed Buildings guidance.

Managing Change in the Historic Environment : Use and Adaptation of Listed Buildings (May 2019) This guidance note aims to support, promote and enable the continued use, reuse and adaptation of listed buildings. It is focused towards buildings whose long-term future is uncertain.