Conservation Status

There are currently 50 conservation areas in Edinburgh, including city centre areas, Victorian suburbs and former villages. Each conservation area has its own unique character and appearance. The Merchiston Community Council area includes parts of  four conservation areas: Merchiston and Greenhill, Shandon Colonies, Slateford (Flower) Colonies and parts of the Marchmont, Meadows and Bruntsfield conservation area.

The Merchiston and Greenhill Conservation Area

This conservation area was originally designated on 25 May 1986. The boundary was amended on the 29 March 1996 to include the late classical villa properties in Merchiston Park and to exclude the Astley Ainslie Hospital which was included in the Grange Conservation Area.

The conservation area is classified by Scottish Ministers as ‘outstanding’ for grant purposes.

The boundary of the Conservation Area follows the line of Newbattle Terrace westwards to Morningside Road, runs south of Morningside Place and George Watson’s to Colinton Road. It then turns northwards onto Polwarth Terrace, running to the rear of properties on Colinton Road, turning northwards again on Gray’s Loan, then runs to the rear of properties on the west of Polwarth Terrace, turning north on Merchiston Avenue, east along Granville Terrace and south to the rear of properties on Merchiston Park. It then turns east to the rear of properties on Chamberlain Road, northwards on Forbes Road, eastwards on Bruntsfield Crescent and southwards on Whitehouse Loan, to the starting point on Newbattle Terrace.

The Conservation Area has a prominent location situated on a localised ridgeline between the edge of the city centre and the Braid Burn valley. From the edge of the Old Town, the topography undulates, descending to a low point along the edge of the Meadows. From here the land ascends through Bruntsfield Links to a high point close to Holy Corner in the heart of the Conservation Area, before descending again through Morningside down to the Braid Burn. Blackford Hill and the Craiglochart Hills rise up to the south in the intervening area creating foreground landscape features against the more distant Braid Hills and Pentland Hills beyond.

There are very few large public open spaces in the area although Bruntsfield Crescent has its superb setting facing the Links. Greenhill Gardens contains an important private open space with a strong public dimension. The Union Canal defines the western edge of Merchiston while the private gardens in Merchiston Gardens present a secluded local amenity. The large lawn in front of Watsons College adds to the imposing presence of the building and helps to separate its institutional function from the residential environment.


Shandon Conservation Area

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Flower Colonies Conservation Area

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Marchmont, Meadows and Bruntsfield conservation area.

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General Information

Any development, either within or outside the conservation area, should be restricted in height and scale in order to protect the key views of the conservation area. New development should protect the setting of individual buildings and the historic environment as a whole. Additional planting with trees of an appropriate species and scale would reinforce the tree cover and benefit the overall character of the conservation area.
Traditional materials should be used in repair and new build. Modern substitutes generally fail to respect the character of the area. The stone boundary walls and railings are a key feature within the conservation area, and they should be repaired and reinstated where appropriate. Original architectural features should be preserved wherever possible.

Role of the Public

It is essential that property owners accept their maintenance responsibilities. The emphasis should be on the repair rather than replacement of original features, as these contribute to the conservation area’s character as a whole. Alterations or additions should be sympathetic to the original style and of an appropriate scale.


Designation as a conservation area has the following implications:

Permitted development rights under the General Development Order are restricted. Planning permission is, therefore, required for stone cleaning, external painting, replacement windows, roof alterations and the formation of hard surfaces. The area of extensions to dwelling houses which may be erected without consent is also restricted to 16m2 and there are additional control over satellite dishes.

Further details are available from: from which much of this information has been sourced.

A Guide to Conservation Areas in Scotland

Conservation areas “are areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance”.
S.61 Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997

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