Page last updated at 15:40 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 16:40 UK

City's heritage site status probe

Caltongate is a controversial development in Edinburgh's Old Town

A review into Edinburgh's World Heritage Status is to be launched by Unesco inspectors.

The move comes after concerns were raised over the handling of the controversial Caltongate development in the Old Town.

The Scottish Government, given until February 2009 to defend the capital's status, has welcomed the move.

Delegates at Seville's 2009 Unesco summit will decide if the city has been sticking to the rules.

Unesco rules state that the government must consult it on any major development in a heritage site before approval is granted.

It would have a negative impact for Scotland Edinburgh was to lose its World Heritage Status
VisitScotland spokesman
The Caltongate plans include a luxury hotel, an office complex and 200 homes.

The project involves the demolition of the lower floors of two Old Town tenements to make a passageway to the development.

Dr Mechtild Rossler, head of the European Unit for the Unesco World Heritage Centre, told BBC Scotland: "We have a number of concerns about some new developments in the Canongate area, Leith docks, St James Centre and the Cowgate fire site.

"We have informed the World Heritage committee about these developments and expressed concern and that's why the committee requested that the state party invite a mission to the site.

"We are concerned about potential impact on the outstanding universal value of World Heritage property."

He added the committee could take the decision to put the area on a danger listing.

'Negative impact'

Culture Minister Linda Fabiani MSP said: "We have extended an invitation for a Unesco mission to visit Edinburgh and evaluate its status as a World Heritage Site.

"I believe in the universal values of Edinburgh's Old and New Town as a World Heritage Site.

"I am confident that when, a Unesco mission visits our capital, it will see a vibrant, growing city which embraces its cultural and architectural heritage as well as managing an improvement in development that benefits Edinburgh as a whole."

A VisitScotland spokesman, said: "It would have a negative impact for Scotland if Edinburgh was to lose its World Heritage Status. Hopefully, it wouldn't come to that."

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