Edinburgh historic centre in urgent need of maintenance works

Most of the buildings in the historic centre of Edinburgh, a Unesco world heritage site since 1995, are in urgent need of maintenance work.

Repairs are needed to crumbling stonework, corroded ironwork, rotten window frames and walls sodden from broken gutters.

A survey by the charity Edinburgh World Heritage, together with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, found that 72% of the buildings in the historic centre are in need of repair, the result of a backlog of neglected maintenance.

Climate change is likely to exacerbate the problem, the charity says, with studies showing that both rainfall and temperature in Edinburgh are rising, increasing the stress on historic buildings, their energy consumption, and thereby their carbon footprint.

Adam Wilkinson, director of the charity, says that although people assume development is the greatest threat to the historic buildings, poor maintenance and neglected repairs are actually doing more damage.

The survey covered 202 buildings in three streets including tourist-crowded Canongate, and found 172 in need of repair.

Most were privately owned tenements, in multiple ownership or with renting tenants, making agreeing maintenance and repairs more difficult.

Almost half the buildings, 42%, had vegetation sprouting from neglected gutters and stonework, the single most visible sign of the damage being caused.