Advice and Support

Designation process: Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

How we assess Inventory applications and requests for removal from the Inventory or for a review of an existing Inventory entry.

1 Overview

We assess three main types of proposals:

  • proposals to add a garden or designed landscape to the Inventory
  • requests for reviews of existing Inventory sites
  • requests for sites to be removed from the Inventory

Assessing a proposal may involve a number of detailed steps before we can reach a final view.

For large designed landscapes with multiple owners, this part of the process can sometimes be more difficult.

Find out how to propose a garden or landscape for the Inventory.

2 Research

Evidence Gathering and Assessment

When we receive an application we will publish the case on our Portal and welcome comments and information about the site to inform our assessment. We will carry out research to assess the garden and designed landscape using the selection guidance and will consider the evidence submitted to us. A wide range of sources may be considered and this stage may also include a site visit. This stage can take a number of weeks to complete.

We write to the relevant parties if we find that the garden and designed landscape doesn’t meet the criterion of national importance for inclusion in the Inventory or if we don’t intend to proceed for any other reasons.

3 Consultation

Following research, we evaluate the garden or designed landscape and reach an initial view on its merit to the Inventory. 

If we find that the site may be of national interest, we prepare a draft Inventory description and boundary map.

We then consult with the planning authority and the owner (where possible) about this view. We also welcome views from interested parties through our portal

We will also consult if we propose a change to the boundary of an existing Inventory site.

We are primarily concerned with views that relate to the cultural significance of the site. We also consider comments on the purpose and implications of designations. 

The consultation period is usually 21 days. For more complex sites or larger projects this stage can take longer.

4 Completion

Following consultation, we consider the responses and make a final decision about whether to:

  • include the garden or designed landscape in the Inventory
  • amend the record of an existing Inventory entry
  • remove a site from the Inventory

We will inform the owner and planning authority of the outcome of the case.

5 Review a decision

Use our application form to ask us to review a site on the Inventory.

We will only review a very recent decision to add a site to the Inventory if there is good reason to do so.

Such reasons might include:

  • severe loss to the site since its designation
  • significant evidence, not previously considered, relating to the site's merit

6 Notification of designation

We will try to contact the owner of a site that is being considered for the Inventory.

We will normally tell you if a site that you own or occupy has:

  • been added to the Inventory
  • been removed from the Inventory
  • had the boundary of the Inventory record changed, if this directly affects you

We will also inform the planning authority, and we will let it know about all removals.

You can write to us if you want to know who proposed a site for inclusion on the Inventory. We consider each request individually. Data Protection legislation may mean that we can’t name the proposer.

Send your request to:

Historic Environment Scotland
Longmore House
Salisbury Place

Or email:

7 Inventory criteria

The criteria for defining national importance are set out in the Designation Policy and Selection Guidance 2019.

We assess gardens and designed landscapes against these seven value-based criteria:

  • artistic interest
  • historical interest
  • horticultural interest
  • architectural interest
  • archaeological interest
  • scenic interest
  • nature conservation interest

A site’s condition and its overall integrity are also important factors.

Inventory sites usually have a mixture of features such as:

  • built structures
  • planting
  • open grounds
  • landforms
  • water management
  • archaeological remains
  • natural landscape features

All such features may contribute to the value of a site. Some elements may be important enough to be designated in their own right – whether by us as listed buildings or scheduled monuments, or by Scottish Natural Heritage for their scientific or nature conservation value.

All sites included in the Inventory are considered to be of national importance. There is no category or grading system to show relative merit.

Sites are considered for the Inventory on a case-by-case basis. In exceptional circumstances, we may not:

  • designate a garden or designed landscape that is found to meet the criteria
  • review an existing Inventory site

Such circumstances might include but aren’t limited to:

  • development proposals that affect the character of the site
  • an appeal period or an appeal against refusal of planning permission
  • other development proposals

Maintaining the Inventory

We welcome requests to assess and reassess sites for the Inventory. We do this in partnership with stakeholders and landowners.

Find out how to propose a garden or landscape for the Inventory.

8 Service standards and timescales

Our overall aim is to provide a high quality, transparent and professional service within defined timescales.

Designations service standards [PDF, 162KB]

We aim to respond to standard phone and email queries within 3 working days.

Individual designation applications

We aim to complete individual standard gardens and designed landscapes applications within 9 months.

Some cases may take longer and will depend largely on the scale, type of site or structure or the circumstances of the case. We will tell you if this is the case.

Project timescales

We also work on projects where we look at larger sites, areas or structure types across the country. These can be carried out in partnership with others or by ourselves. We set separate timescales for each project depending on our stakeholders needs, the scale of the project and our priorities.

Most projects are completed within a year. Please contact us in advance about potential projects.


We welcome feedback about our service. Please let us know what you think.

Telephone: 0131 668 8914

Or write to us:

Historic Environment Scotland
Longmore House
Salisbury Place