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Historic Scotland Programme of Improvements Announced

20 May 2009

A programme to improve how Historic Scotland serves its customers, the ways it works with partners and shares its expertise has been announced by Culture Minister Michael Russell today (Wednesday, 20 May).

Speaking at the final Historic Environment Advisory Council for Scotland (HEACS) conference, the Minister detailed the steps Historic Scotland will take.

The Minister also launched a three-month consultation on the Ancient Monuments and Listed Buildings (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill which will modernise current heritage legislation.

Culture Minister Michael Russell said: “I have asked Historic Scotland to carry out a wide-ranging programme to improve its customer service, strengthen its partnerships with other organisations and enhance its communication of the work it does.

“Historic Scotland has been working to improve its service to its customers, but too often people do not understand the views it takes or why. Central to achieving change are three projects which will  improve the way the Agency works as a regulator, all of which will involve sitting down with people to understand their perception of how Historic Scotland operates and learn from it

“The programme I have announced today will add new impetus to improving service, introduce a clear focus for improvement and build upon the modernisation programme and strengthen it in the year ahead. “

The three projects announced by the minister will look at:

  • the process of listing buildings, and involve owners of recently listed properties
  • the advice offered on applications for listed building consent, and involve recent applicants.
  • how the agency can work with partners to anticipate proposals for change in particular types of buildings or sites, and develop pro-active proposals, on the lines of the initiative on castles I announced earlier this month.

Other projects which will improve Historic Scotland’s customer service are:

  • Issuing new more user-friendly guidance on best practice in managing change to historic buildings
  • starting a new series of practical manuals on the typical conservation and repair tasks and launching a new interactive guide to repairing and maintaining your house.
  • Joining the existing SEARS partnership, which brings together the Scottish Government and its other environmental agencies in seeking ways to improve service and communications
  • concluding joint working agreements with all the planning authorities in Scotland to clarify responsibilities and simplify the handling of applications
  • launch new publications highlighting the variety and interest of the buildings it has examined in recent listing surveys, and raising the profile of Scotland’s rich stock of good post-war architecture.

The Minister concluded: “The Agency’s modernisation work relate to the wider Scottish Government planning reform agenda and demonstrates a more customer-focused approach, ensuring processes are transparent and proportionate with positive engagement.

“Scotland’s heritage is an essential element of understanding and recognising history, for tourism and education and is also an opportunity of economic development. This continued modern, engaged and customer-focussed approach from Historic Scotland will ensure that these opportunities are maximised for the benefit of many.”

Notes for editors

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations

For further information

Lisa Nicholson
Communications and Media Manager
Communications and Media
0131 668 8852 or 07500 065 438