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Protect urban heritage
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Image credit: Bastian Pudill on Unsplash

Protect urban heritage to prevent growth in inequality

Our research for the National Trust suggests approximately 3,000 Grade II buildings at risk in urban areas and discusses the impact on heritage and communities.

Richard Naylor

Director, Research

Richard Naylor is a world leading expert in research methodologies for the culture and the creative industries, having been an early innovator in the development of frameworks for measuring the economic and social impacts of cultural activities.

Richard Naylor - Director, Research | BOP

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National Trust


Projects Sectors

Our research for the National Trust suggests there are approximately 3,000 Grade II buildings with potential for valuable public use that are currently at risk in urban areas.

While Grade I and II* buildings at risk are registered and monitored via Historic England’s Heritage At Risk register, this protection is not afforded to Grade II listed structures. Grade II buildings are in many ways at greatest risk due to lower levels of statutory protection and monitoring, exacerbated by diminishing local authority resources to care for these heritage assets.

Our report for the National Trust – The Trends and Future of Urban Heritage - explores the impact of this rise in urban population and high number of urban heritage assets at risk. The research examines the current policy and programme landscape for conserving heritage assets, enabling communities to protect and preserve their local heritage, as well as developing sustainable re-usage plans. It concluded:

  • If nothing is done, buildings will suffer decline and will become increasingly difficult – and expensive – to repair (the “conservation deficit”); “Increasing numbers of important historic buildings will fall into decay, creating a spiral of decline for the places where they are located. This impact will be felt first and to a greater degree in the poorest areas, exacerbating inequality” - Funder

  • Failure to protect these heritage assets may contribute to greater social and geographic inequality through lost opportunities to contribute to place resilience, “broken-window” syndrome and concentration of resources in areas with greater social and economic capital;

  • The National Trust and other heritage bodies have the scale, brand, expertise and convening power required to make change and are keen to find new ways to collaborate around urban heritage;

  • Community groups have the passion required to make projects happen and often high levels of expertise, but no-one group will have the full range of skills required from conservation through legal work to business planning to ensure that projects can be well delivered and be viable into the long term;

  • Developing sympathetic support for the sustainability of community-lead heritage projects is important for the urban heritage sector.

The National Trust will take these findings forward into their strategic work in urban places. This takes the Trust back to the original aims of its founder, Octavia Hill:

"Octavia was instrumental in the set of the National Trust. She was a social reformer, and campaigned to give ordinary people better living environments and access to the outdoors – by working across the sector to help protect the places that matter to people in towns and cities, we are returning to our core principles of providing benefit for the nation" 

Rachel Snowball, Urban Places Programme Manager

– Rebekah Polding, Senior Consultant

Urban heritage

This research report has been commissioned by the National Trust to provide evidence and insight into the current state and future trends affecting urban heritage.

Project Report

The Trends and Future of Urban Heritage

The report outlines the findings from a major study into the international activity of the Arts Council England-supported cultural ecosystem.

International Activity Report

Arts Council England

BOP Consulting was appointed to outline a pilot for a Creative Worker Income Guarantee for Brighton & Hove, working on behalf of the University of Sussex and the ABCD Cultural Recovery Programme. 

Cultural, Creative and Collective Recovery: Exploring a Creative Worker Income Guarantee

University of Sussex

The report on how global cities tackle climate change with cultural policies and programmes. Insights from the World Cities Culture Forum's latest report.

The Green World Cities of Tomorrow: Culture and Sustainability – Special Report Prepared for WCCF Global Conversation

World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF)

Unique case guide is co-produced with the participating cities of WCCF, highlighting city examples and a global cities approach to evidenced-based policymaking.

Culture Counts: New Approaches to Evidence Based Cultural Policymaking in World Cities

World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF)

Working alongside CRAIC, a new research and collaboration centre at Loughborough University, we conducted an extensive survey of virtual production assets throughout the United Kingdom to map the country’s growing ecosystem.

Mapping the UK's Virtual Production Ecosystem

Loughborough University

The World Cities Culture Report (WCCR) 2022 builds on the ground-breaking 2018 and 2015 Reports. It gives insights on the major challenges world cities facing.

World Cities Culture Report 2022

World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF)

BOP's contribution to the 2nd edition of the report UNESCO's Global Creativity Report, examining policies safeguarding the creative and cultural sectors.

UNESCO's Re|Shaping Policies for Creativity Report – Addressing culture as a global public good


Our strategy will guide the creation of a new digital service aiming at supporting and developing the creative scene in Downtown Kingston.

Leveraging the creative potential of Downtown Kingston through technology

Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

Our research into the UK's high streets found that 69% of people think culture on their high street makes their area a better place to live.

Culture: The cornerstone of the UK’s high streets

Arts Council England

BOP’s updated Handbook for the Inter-American Development Bank sets out strategies for sustainability and urban resilience

Creative and Cultural Industries and Urban Revitalisation in the post-COVID era

Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

We investigated the potential impact of AI for European cultural and creative businesses. Explore the transformative opportunities AI brings to industries.

Opportunities and Challenges of AI for the Cultural and Creative Industries

European Commission

Published today: ‘Design for Good: 90 Years of the RSA Student Design Awards’, a new publication from the RSA, co-authored by BOP

A History of Bright Ideas: 90 Years of the RSA Student Design Awards

The Royal Society for Arts (RSA)

Research in the Gulf Co-operation Council States in collaboration with British Council and BOP Consulting helps identify opportunities for festival development.

An evidence-base for the growing Gulf festivals sector

British Council

Our research into the museum workforce is launched, emphasizing the importance of conscientiousness and advocating for a diverse and well-supported sector.

Conscientiousness, optimism, and curiosity

Museums Galleries Scotland

BOP’s report on creating a healthy night-time economy for the Nanjing City Government demonstrates the importance of cross-cutting policies.

Creating Healthy Night-time Economies in World Cities

Nanjing Creative Center

Findings from our work at Great Ormond Street Hospital reveals how visual arts enhance the patient, visitor, and staff experience.

Creativity in health settings


How is China influencing the future of Cultural Tourism? China's cultural infrastructure projects are redefining the global tourism landscape.

Cultural Infrastructure for the 21st Century

Chengdu Media Group

Our new report for UNESCO sets out the huge global impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector. We estimate $750 billion lost for the CCI and 10 million job cuts.

Economic impact of COVID-19 on the Cultural and Creative Industries


Our analysis of the strengths and challenges of music in the Midlands report published for Arts Council England.

Hitting the right notes in the Midlands

Arts Council England

New handbook 'Making Space for Culture' explores how world cities address the challenge of preserving cultural infrastructure while promoting growth.

How can cities make space for culture?

World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF)

Related Projects

Research, Data and Insight

Richard Naylor - Director, Research | BOP

Richard Naylor

Director, Research

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