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To: The City of Edinburgh Council

Save Our Historic Setts!

09/03/18 - We Won!!

We are delighted to say that at the Council's Transport and Environment committee meeting on 9 March, the Council’s Strategy for Setted Streets and the full restoration of the Brighton Place setts were approved. It has been a long fight to have the 2016 decision to remove the setts from Brighton Place reversed.

It is fantastic that the right decision was made to preserve this integral feature of the conservation area, which enhances the setting of the fine Georgian architecture. The approval of the Strategy for Setted Street strengthens the protection of all setted streets across the city.

Thank you for all your support. We could not have done this without you.

Best wishes

Douglas Read

Save Our Historic Setts!

We ask the City of Edinburgh Council to reverse its decision to remove the historic setts (cobbles) from Brighton Place, Portobello, Edinburgh.  The removal of the setts would be detrimental to this part of the Portobello conservation area and would have repercussions for the rest of Edinburgh.

The sett replacement was unanimously approved in the 2015/16 budget and notification had been given in writing by the council that the work was approved and would be going ahead in 2016.  However, at the Transport and Environment Committee in January 2016, with no prior warning, the decision was made, against council policy, to remove the setts and replace with tarmac. 

What happened was not open and transparent local decision making.    
The following information has come now to light:
• Councillors were told that previous replacement of the setts had only lasted 10 years. This is untrue - the setts have not been replaced in living memory and are most likely original;
• Councillors stated they were against sett replacement due to initial cost and risk of disruption but raised no concerns about approving a similar scheme in South Queensferry;
• The decision appeared to rely on a consultation which was based on incomplete and erroneous information. Councillors were not aware of a senior officer’s concern on this consultation process.

Why is this important?

The setts are an integral part of the historic heritage of this area of Portobello, a designated conservation area. They were laid as part of the unified Brighton Place and Brighton Crescents development in the early 19th century by John Baxter. Their removal would be detrimental to the setting of the listed buildings and detract from this part of the conservation area, described as “one of the most attractive, least altered and most architecturally important areas of the conservation area.“ A survey of the 200 closest households indicated that over 80% of respondents support the retention of the setts.

Once removed they will never be replaced - this is the last setted street in Portobello and Brighton Place is an important entrance into the town.

Setted streets have recently been re-laid in Marchmont and Leith and there is no justification for treating Portobello differently.

Local residents have been waiting a long time for a quality replacement of the setts on proper foundations (which has never been done here before), using new techniques and quality contractors which will result in a long lasting and smooth road surface of 40+ years duration, represents good value for money and will enhance the conservation area.

The removal of the setts would irrevocably diminish and change the character of this part of the Portobello conservation area. It would also create a precedent for the removal of the setts in other historic parts of Edinburgh, leading to a gradual erosion of the city’s built heritage without a full debate of how setted streets bring value to and enhance conservation areas.

This decision undermines the conservation policies which exist to protect our precious built heritage - the very thing that attracts thousands of visitors from around the world to Edinburgh.

The decision to remove the setts goes against the council's own conservation policies. If the council is seen to ignore its own policies then how can it with any credibility demand that householders in conservation areas adhere to them?

How it will be delivered

Deliver in Person

Portobello, Edinburgh, UK.

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


Reasons for signing

  • What part of 'Conservation Area' do you not understand, Transport and Environment Committee?
  • Setts are historic
  • Because setts give enormous character to historic townscapes.


2018-03-12 09:48:46 +0000

Petition is successful with 916 signatures

2016-02-21 18:07:51 +0000

500 signatures reached

2016-02-01 17:17:41 +0000

100 signatures reached

2016-02-01 08:11:18 +0000

50 signatures reached

2016-01-31 21:34:27 +0000

25 signatures reached

2016-01-31 14:37:08 +0000

10 signatures reached