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There are more than 600 conservation areas in Scotland and more than 47,000 listed buildings. If you’re planning a garden building or home improvement project, living in one of these areas means that you’ll most likely need planning permission. But how do you find out if you’re in a conservation area?

Many local authorities have maps of their conservation areas, but this information isn’t always easy to find. Some have out-of-date documentation or their websites aren’t easy to navigate, and some just don’t include this information at all.

Fortunately, there’s an interactive online map you can check which covers the whole of Scotland. However, since it’s not particularly easy to use, this is a quick guide to make sure you can find what you’re looking for.

How to use the ArcGIS map to find conservation areas in Scotland.

First up – it’s possible to use this map on a phone or tablet, but frankly, it’s quite annoying. Using a laptop or desktop definitely makes things easier. If you are using a phone or tablet you may have to refresh the page if it loads slowly or crashes.

The map uses pretty standard zooming and dragging tools, which you can operate from a mouse or a touchpad. If you click your mouse and drag the whole map will move with your mouse. If you scroll the map will zoom in or zoom out. You can use these navigation tools to find the part of Scotland that you want to search. there are also + and – buttons in the menu bar to zoom in and out.

When you first open the ArcGIS map, it will look something like this:

A screenshot of the ArcGIS map of Scotland showing conservation areas. the map shows the centre of Glasgow, Paisley, Johnstone and Clydebank.

When I zoomed in to the centre of Glasgow I was just about able to make out some areas of hatched lines that I thought might be conservation areas, but it was really difficult to see what I was looking at.

That’s where the menu bar comes in. The red rectangle in the picture below shows the Basemap Gallery button. This opens the second window called the Basemap Gallery. Here you can choose from several different map views. I chose “Streets”, which is also highlighted in red below.

A screenshot of the ArcGIS map showing conservation areas in Scotland. The map shows Edinburgh. The Basemap gallery on the toolbar and the Streets option in the Basemap gallery are highlighted with red rectangles.

This filters out most of the map information and makes the pink conservation areas much easier to see. They are outlined in pink with hatched lines to show the area. If you zoom in you can see individual streets and houses. If your home is inside the pink border with the hatched lines you live in a conservation area. If your home is outside the border, you don’t!

How do I get rid of unnecessary information on the map?

If there’s still information on the map that you don’t need, click the Layers button in the menu bar. This is outlined in red in the picture below:

A screenshot of the ArcGIS map showing conservation areas in Scotland. The map shows Edinburgh, with blue, red and pink dots showing the locations of listed buildings and pink outlined hatched areas showing conservation areas,

You can tick or untick the boxes to display the information that you need. This picture has both conservation areas and listed buildings visible.

How do I find listed buildings on this map?

There’s also an option to see where listed buildings are. If you live in a listed building you’ll more than likely know about it because the seller would have mentioned this when you bought the house. But if you’d like to see it on the map, you can tick the box that says “Listed Buildings.”

Category A buildings have red dots, Category B buildings have blue dots, and Category C buildings have pink dots. If you click on these dots, the address or name of the property pops up in a window. Here’s the old University Library building in St Andrews:

A screenshot of the ArcGIS designations map. The map shows the town centre and coast of St Andrews. A blue-and-white pop-up reads, "University Library Original Buildings. Category A." A link in the box reads "Find out more about this site."

You can find this map here or on some local authority websites. If you’re not sure whether or not permitted development rules apply to you or whether or not you’re in a conservation area, you now have everything you need to find out. Happy hunting!

And if your house is in one of the conservation areas in Scotland, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a Garage, a Garden Room or a Shed. It just means that you’ll have to apply for planning permission to make sure your project is legal! However, a responsible garden building company will be able to advise you on this, and may even be able to make the application for you.

Do you still have questions? Book a no-obligation consultation with one of our Team. They can provide you with the answers you need to decide what your project will involve, whether you live in a conservation area or not.


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