Urban conservation and environmental sustainability in Scottish planning policy and practice

Shetabi, Linda (2023) Urban conservation and environmental sustainability in Scottish planning policy and practice. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis investigates the relationship between urban heritage conservation and environmental sustainability within the context of the sustainable development policy agenda. The unparalleled rate of urbanization in the 21st century, together with the escalating pressures to mitigate and address climate change have presented considerable challenges to the conservation and management of historic built environments in cities. Often sustainable urban development policies include the conservation and management of the historic environment as an integral part of the sustainability agenda. However, retaining the valued character defining elements of historic urban areas, while addressing the contemporary needs of a growing population within a system that values economic viability, social equity and environmental protection has led to tensions and value trade-offs. The existing literature on urban conservation and sustainable urban development largely explore the social and economic values and contribution of urban heritage, while the examination of the environmental values and contributions have focused primarily on improving building performance, and the value of retaining building in terms of embodied carbon, and the reduction of construction waste and greenhouse gas emissions, and improving resource efficiency. However, in examining value conflicts in policy implementation and the nuances of value-trade-offs during adaptation projects, more research is required.

This research contributes to these gaps by analysing the structure and local implementation of existing heritage conservation, sustainable development and environmental sustainability policies through the lens of values. Values underpin policies on heritage conservation and environmental sustainability, interrogating the implementation of policy during the planning process can illustrate whether the policy structure and underpinning values are compatible in delivering environmental sustainability within the sustainable development agenda.

Adopting a qualitative research strategy, a case study approach was utilised to examine policy implementation in the conversion of four listed school buildings in Glasgow. This was to investigate the extent to which environmental sustainability was considered in the policy and practice of urban conservation in Scotland, and determine how urban heritage contributes to the environmental sustainability goals of the Scottish Government at the national and local level.

The research revealed that in the conservation of urban heritage, heritage values that guide conservation practice are incongruent with the environmental sustainability goals of the Scottish Government. The thesis contends that in order to include the contribution of heritage conservation to environmental sustainability, the significance of built heritage must go beyond its traditional focus on aesthetic and historic values, to include contributions to the environmental sustainability of cities and carbon reduction targets. And at a more global level, the understanding of built heritage conservation must move beyond the current values of historic, aesthetic, social and economic, to include environmental contributions and thus make heritage conservation a component of reducing the carbon footprint of cities and contributing to environmental sustainability. This would in turn assist in the development of meaningful indicators for the historic environment that would generate data aligned with those required for measuring environmental sustainability goals.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN1187 Scotland
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Madgin, Professor Rebecca, White, Professor James and Joss, Professor Simon
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83459
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2023 12:09
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2023 12:10
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83459
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/83459

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