Our historic environment helps define our nation and is a key building block for a successful future for Scotland. Its conservation, sustainable use and development play a major role in economic growth, tourism, sustainable development and regeneration. But it is also important not to forget that buildings which are a century or more in age provide homes for 20% of Scotland’s households.
Our measure of success is to decrease the percentage of occupied pre-1919 buildings which are assessed as suffering from critical element disrepair, which is central to a dwelling being wind and weather proof, structurally stable and safeguarded against further rapid deterioration. Looking at the condition of ordinary buildings in the same framework as that of listed buildings provides a more socially inclusive Indicator than did the former measure, which looked only at A-listed buildings. It will illustrate the link between the well-being of Scotland’s traditional building stock and that of about a million people who live in such older buildings.
Government can work together with local authorities, private individuals and voluntary sector organisations to improve these buildings to a standard that ensures they remain capable of continuing in use as habitable properties which meet modern living standards. Showing that there is a viable alternative to the cycle of deterioration, followed by demolition and replacement by new build, will make a significant contribution to meeting Scotland’s present and future housing needs in a sustainable way.
The main influence will be the state of the economy and how that translates into the willingness and ability of owners (private, public sector and voluntary sector) to invest in the repair and maintenance of their buildings. The availability of grants for repairs or maintenance will also be a significant influence, as will grants for energy efficiency and other improvements. Access to quality advice and to traditional building construction and craft skills and materials will also be relevant in influencing how well older properties are maintained.
The Government works in partnership with local authorities and others to encourage positive action to maintain buildings which are in use as dwellings. Historic building repair grants are available to owners of listed buildings at serious risk from neglect or disrepair, but the large majority of older buildings are not listed. Instead, their maintenance and improvement relies primarily upon affordability, access to good advice and the existence of a suitably skilled workforce. Available financial support focusses upon habitability rather than building conservation, which means that high-level maintenance work (which the Indicator addresses) is usually “packaged” with improvements to living space.
This will place a premium upon the development of methods for adapting and improving traditional buildings, to meet modern standards for comfort and energy efficiency while conserving their distinctive character. Through Historic Environment Scotland and its many collaborators, the Government is investing in research in this area, and also in the provision of advice to home-owners. Training in traditional skills is also supported, with a National Conservation Centre (Engine Shed) due to open in 2017.
The proportion of pre-1919 dwellings classified as having disrepair to critical elements gradually increased from 73% in 2007 to a peak of 80% in 2012. Since then, the proportion decreased by 12 percentage points to 68% in 2015. In 2016, 67% of pre-1919 dwellings were classified as having disrepair to critical elements. The small difference between 2015 and 2016 is within the margin of error for this survey.
The data is available at the bottom of the page.
The evaluation is based on: any difference within +/- 5 percentage points of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. A decrease of 5 percentage points or more suggests the position is improving; whereas an increase of 5 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening.
For information on general methodological approach, please click here.
Scotland Performs Technical Note
Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS)
Further Education Colleges and Universities
Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC)
Private, Public and Voluntary Sector Building Owners
Historic Environment Scotland
Wealthier and Fairer