The Estates Department of RBGE manages over 30,000m² of built environment across the four Gardens, comprising in excess of 100 separate buildings, located within approximately 270 acres of land. The Gardens are all held in the name of Scottish Ministers and leased to RBGE generally on 99 year leases. The estate comprises many different types of buildings housing both living and preserved collections. Many of these buildings are of significant historical and architectural interest including the iconic Victorian Palm and Tropical Houses, the Front Range in Edinburgh along with other historically listed buildings and structures across the estate including the Herbarium, John Hope Gateway, Botanic Cottage, and the recently restored Benmore Fernery. Almost 30% of the estate is under glass, which requires very special attention for obvious safety reasons.

Picture by Donald MacLeod

The Estates Department is part of the Corporate Services Division and manages one of RBGE’s largest revenue budgets after salaries at around £2M annually. This covers for all maintenance, utilities, cleaning, rates, waste removal, etc. The Department also oversees the management of any construction related capital projects. A notable capital project recently undertaken was the relocation and re-construction of the Botanic Cottage from Leith Walk to the Edinburgh Garden. This very special and unique project has attracted much positive interest not only for its architectural merits but also for the community projects it facilitates. This was evidenced only recently when the Cottage won the Scottish Civic Trust ‘My Place Award’. The project was described as being unique in Scotland as it was a national celebration of good local design and conservation being nominated and evaluated by local people. It provides a positive impact in a local neighbourhood and is delivering positive benefits to that community. Other special projects recently completed include the restoration of the Walled Garden Pond at Logan Botanic Garden and the repair and upgrade of the pond at the John Hope Gateway. Maintenance of the built environment is a high priority for RBGE. A recent condition survey identified an approximate £15M backlog in maintenance works across the whole estate. This backlog will require significant additional funding to address over the coming years. A top consideration for the Department is maintaining statutory compliance for the Garden. Issues such as asbestos and water management are high on our agenda at all times. The Department has recently procured a Hard Facilities Services Management Contractor (building repairs and maintenance) Arthur McKay Building Support Services Group to carry out all of our maintenance. This successful procurement exercise was selected by Sustainable Scotland as an exemplar project for the way it dealt with sustainability in the procurement process. In addition to building maintenance, Estates also manages the Soft Services Facilities Management Contractor (Cleaning and Waste Management) Sodexo Prestige, as part of a larger concession catering contract in conjunction with Enterprise Division.

The Department itself comprises a team of 12 headed up by Sara Griffiths (Head of Estates) who is a professionally qualified Chartered Quantity Surveyor. Projects works including capital works are managed by Gerry Gallagher (Project Manager Estates). Maintenance of the estate is managed by Colin Smith (Maintenance Manager) and his team of two Ian Ross and Kevin Banks, with support from Arthur McKay. Management of the support services function – front of house and Soft FM contract, is by Lauren Kay (Support Services Manager), complimented by her team of six Jenny Macnab, Carolann Alexander, Yvonne Lockhart, Agron Shehi, Scott McGregor and Nicolas Gruter, all supported by Sodexo Prestige. Key objectives for the Estates Department for 2017 – 18, include completion of the RBGE Asset Management Plan; production of the Edinburgh North East Corner Outline Business Case, continuation of the asbestos and legionella management works, various minor works to all gardens, management of the budget portfolio and completion of the utility smart meters installation across all gardens.