Just two Category A listed buildings remain 'at risk' in the City of Edinburgh World heritage site

11 March 2022
Exterior render of the old India buildings when they open as a hotel
According to new figures released today by the City of Edinburgh Council, only two Category ‘A’ listed buildings will remain ‘at risk’ in the World Heritage Site once current or planned restoration work is complete – down 14 from a decade ago.

In 2012, there were 16 Category ‘A’ listed buildings on the Buildings at Risk Register (BARR), which has been maintained by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) since 1990.

The buildings, which are deemed to be of ‘international significance’ and include Riddle’s Court, Acheson House and the former Donaldson’s School for the Deaf, have been repaired, refurbished and brought back into public use, following long periods lying vacant.


The Virgin Hotels development in the Old Town, which is due for completion in the spring, will remove four buildings from the register, including the landmark India Buildings and the 160-year-old Cowgatehead Free Church, while the globally renowned Old Royal High School on Regent Terrace has planning permission in place to bring it back into use as a music school, saving five buildings in the process.

Protecting Edinburgh World Heritage site

A spokesperson for Edinburgh World Heritage said: “It is welcome news that so many of the city’s ‘at risk’ buildings have been conserved and given a new lease of life in order to benefit Edinburgh’s people, institutions and economy. This all supports our goal of protecting what makes the World Heritage Site special, while also ensuring that the site works for everyone in the city.

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“We have first-hand experience of the value of repurposing Edinburgh’s historic properties. In 2011 we moved our offices into the wonderful 17th century Acheson House, following a major programme of conservation work to take this building off the ‘at risk’ register; it had lain empty for years but is now a busy office and library space.

“As a city partner, Edinburgh World Heritage has been delighted to lend our expertise when working with the Council to conserve and protect the city’s most important historic buildings, and we hope that our partnership will continue to benefit Edinburgh’s buildings and people for many years to come.”

Full list of buildings in the World Heritage Site currently being worked on and those restored and brought back to life in the last ten years:

  • The Old Royal High School is to become a music school
  • India Buildings on Victoria Street will shortly reopen as a hotel
  • The City Observatory is now an art gallery for contemporary art
  • The former Donaldson’s School for the Deaf, including the gate lodges, has been restored and transformed into housing
  • Riddle's Court in the Lawnmarket is now the headquarters of Scottish Historic Buildings Trust
  • Acheson House is home to Edinburgh World Heritage
  • Panmure House is now Heriot Watt’s Edinburgh Business school
  • Upper floors of 30 Princes Street, including the gilded globe roof sculpture of the former Forsyth’s department store, are now a hotel
  • 27 and 29-31 Melville Street has been turned into offices
  • 9 Rutland Square has been brought back into residential use
  • 26 Heriot Row has been brought back into residential use
  • 8 Blenheim Place has been brought back into residential use
  • 1-3 Baxter’s Place is now a hotel
  • 42 St Andrew Square is now the Edinburgh Grand, a luxury all-apartment residence

Report courtesy Edinburgh World Heritage. Image copyright Virgin Hotels