News from Scotland, Spring 2011

Posted on September 6th, 2011 by Charles Boot

As reported in the Summer News (86), the Historic Environment Amendment (Scotland) Bill progressed through the Scottish Parliament during 2010 with its third reading in January 2011. The Bill was duly passed and is expected to receive Royal Assent and become an Act in early March. The provisions of the Act will then be brought into force on specific dates including the duty for Scottish Ministers to compile and maintain an Inventory of Gardens and Landscapes and an Inventory of Battlefields in Scotland, updating them as and when necessary. Historic Scotland has now finished the re-survey and updating of the Scottish Borders section of the designed landscape Inventory and the amendments will be published when this provision is brought into force. Whilst some sites will be removed from the Inventory as they are no longer considered to meet the criteria for inclusion twenty-five years after the original survey, other sites will be added, with an overall increase to thirty one sites of national significance in the Scottish Borders Council area. The re-survey and updating project has now moved on to Aberdeenshire and northeast Scotland.

In December the long-awaited replacement for the Memorandum of Guidance for Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas, ‘Managing Change in the Historic Environment’ was published by Historic Scotland. Consisting of an initial suite of fourteen freestanding guidance notes on a range of topics, the list will be expanded over time. At present there is no one leaflet specifically for Gardens and Designed Landscapes, but much of the content of the ‘Setting’ leaflet is relevant and contains a link to the GHS website and PCANs 11 and 13; Development in the Setting of Historic Designed Landscape, and Briefs for Historic Landscape Assessment. Further details of both the Inventory and the Managing Change in the Historic Environment guidance notes can be found on Historic Scotland’s website

The steady flow of forestry consultations into the conservation office was maintained over the latter half of the year with a notable rise in applications for Woodland Creation under the Scottish Rural Development Programme’s Rural Priorities. In the majority of cases we supported the applications for native woodland creation in appropriate areas of designed landscapes, but have become increasingly concerned with applications received for planting-up parkland areas as woodland. Often described in an application as ‘uneconomic agricultural land’ and seen as a potential source of bio-fuel for the future, there is a danger that much parkland could become lost under blanket planting of native woodland. In most applications we have tried to encourage a reduced area of planting, usually towards the periphery and as an extension to existing woodland, retaining some open parkland space. In addition we have encouraged the replacement of individual parkland specimens and or clumps of trees, with the inclusion of non-native species where this is appropriate, reflecting the historical planting mix.

At Cammo House, on the western outskirts of Edinburgh we were consulted by the City of Edinburgh Council about the restoration and recreation of the Pinetum. The Cammo landscape was laid out by Sir John Clerk, later 2nd Baronet of Penicuik, (1676–1755) in the early 1700s and this formed the framework for subsequent landscape developments. Cammo House was remodelled by William Adam in the late 1720s but was destroyed by fire in 1977. The ruin was consolidated and made safe in 1980 and remains the focal point of the estate. The landscape was remodelled in the 1770s and a small Pinetum laid out to the west of the house in the mid 19th century. Since the acquisition of the estate by the National Trust for Scotland in 1980 the grounds have been managed as a countryside park on the Trust’s behalf by City of Edinburgh Council. Although now a popular green space and informal park, the management regime has resulted in a loss of detail of the designed landscape. The Pinetum has remained un-mown and largely unmanaged with a resultant invasion of Rhododendron and Ivy, and apart from one Cedrus deodara planted in 2006, no replacement planting undertaken. Some of the original trees have survived to the present day including a Pinus pinea (Umbrella Pine) which is thought to be the second largest in the UK; other specimens include a Pinus cembra (Arolla Pine) and Thujopsis dolobrata (Hiba). If works to the Pinetum are undertaken we hope this can be seen as the first stage inof restoring some of the more significant elements of the designed landscape. Other features which would benefit include the Canal to the south of the Pinetum (which may also have been designed by William Adam), the walled garden and the Home Farm.

In the Spring News 2009 (83) we discussed the Cumbernauld House designed landscape. Just before Christmas an application was submitted to North Lanarkshire Council for the conversion of this A-listed William Adam House to residential use with the recreation of the parterre garden to the south. Whilst the use of the building is not what many in the local community had hoped for, we are encouraged by the fact that this project can be achieved by minimal external alteration to the house, and without any enabling development. The only new building on the site will be two residential units on the footprints of buildings adjacent to the stable-block, which will itself be converted for residential use. With the recreation of the parterre garden the stone sundial, dating from 1725 (but thought to have been brought to Cumbernauld at a later date) currently standing somewhat forlornly to the rear of the house can be restored to its former location.

Our volunteer recording groups have been busy with the Dumfries & Galloway producing first drafts of their survey results at properties in the Nith Valley National Scenic Area including Southwick, Mabie, Conheath and Auchencairn. In Angus a new group established, trained and supported by Sue Hewer and Christopher Dingwall has begun work on the desk-top research element of properties in that area. As many of you will be aware our current funding from Historic Scotland (HS) ceases at the end of April, and an application for funding for the coming year is currently under consideration. HS has indicated that, rather than continue funding us to provide advice about the Regionally and Locally significant sites not included in the Inventory, any grant awarded should be used to expand the network of volunteer recording groups across the country. In this News you will see a notice advertising an event to be held in May at Broich, Stirling, to introduce members and volunteers to the work being undertaken. If you are interested please come along and find out what we are doing; we need your involvement to make this project successful. Any members in East Lothian in particular, please note that if our funding application to HS is successful this is one of the areas we hope to expand the project into next. If you cannot go to the Broich event but are interested in finding out more about the work, please contact the Scottish Conservation Office for further details:

Alison Allighan

Conservation Officer, Scotland

31 January 2011

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