Page last updated at 18:03 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Heritage status 'should remain'

Professor Manfred Wehdorn (L) at Edinburgh Castle (Pic: Morag Kinniburgh)
Professor Manfred Wehdorn (L) at Edinburgh Castle last week

Unesco officials are not recommending that Edinburgh should lose its World Heritage status.

They visited the Scottish capital last week amid concerns over major developments in the city.

But Dr Mechtild Rossler, Unesco head of Europe and North America, said the World Heritage Committee had the final decision on the city's status.

She is to report on her findings following her visit along with Unesco advisor Professor Manfred Wehdorn.

Unesco, which granted Edinburgh's World Heritage status in 1995, is concerned about four of the major developments currently under way in the capital.

We are preparing a detailed report on all the issues on the different proposals but we will not be recommending that Edinburgh loses its World Heritage status
Dr Mechtild Rossler
Unesco head of Europe and North America

They were concerns about the Caltongate development in the Old Town, which will see two listed buildings demolished to make way for a five-star hotel, the transformation of Leith waterfront, the redevelopment of the St James Shopping Centre and the rebuilding of the Cowgate fire site.

The representatives spent three days touring the developments last week.

Dr Mechtild Rossler told BBC Scotland news website: "When we looked at developments such as the St James Shopping Centre we thought the plans were positive but we had issues with a development in Haymarket and issues with some processes at Caltongate.

"We are preparing a detailed report on all the issues on the different proposals but we will not be recommending that Edinburgh loses its World Heritage status."

A report will be presented to the World Heritage Committee at its meeting in Seville in July 2009.

Right balance

Jim Lowrie, convener of the committee at Edinburgh City Council, said: "Although we have always been confident of Edinburgh's continuing status as a world heritage site we are obviously delighted with this endorsement from Unesco.

"We believe that both heritage and development contribute to a fantastic quality of life in Edinburgh.

"I am delighted that the Unesco team have seen for themselves just how much we value our heritage and how much emphasis we put on striking the right balance."

Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: "The Unesco mission went well, and Dr Rossler and Professor Wehdorn gained a clear understanding of how hard we are all working to balance the needs of heritage and development.

"I am particularly glad that they saw the professionalism, passion and commitment from all the organisations they met, to preserve the city's key historic values.

"We look forward to their more considered comments in due course, but in the meantime we are reassured that the mission has brought a calm end to the speculation about Edinburgh's World Heritage status."

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