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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 new research report for the National Trust

Richard Naylor

Director, Research

Richard 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 Consulting

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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

Building on our contribution to the second edition of the report in 2018, BOP has led as the Data and Research partner on this report to help find out how policies can protect people working in 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 on the cultural and creative 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)

New skills research in the Gulf Co-operation Council States

An evidence-base for the growing Gulf festivals sector

British Council

Our research into the museum workforce is launched

Conscientiousness, optimism, and curiosity

Museums Galleries Scotland

BOP’s report for Nanjing City Government demonstrates the importance of cross-cutting policies with a compelling cultural offer at the core

Creating Healthy Night-time Economies in World Cities

Nanjing Creative Center

Findings from our work at Great Ormond Street Hospital

Creativity in health settings


How is China influencing the future of Cultural Tourism?

Cultural Infrastructure for the 21st Century

Chengdu Media Group

Based on our impact analysis we estimate $750 billion in lost GVA for the CCI as a result of the pandemic so far.

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


Our analysis of the strengths & challenges of music in the Midlands is published

Hitting the right notes in the Midlands

Arts Council England

New handbook published for city leaders

How can cities make space for culture?

World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF)

Our report sheds new light on how building the capacity of the heritage sector can assist working internationally

International working builds stronger heritage sector at home

National Lottery Heritage Fund

Our new report with Nesta published

Opportunities for China-UK Cooperation through Equity Crowdfunding


Our new research report for the National Trust

Protect urban heritage to prevent growth in inequality

National Trust

Our latest research for the Reading Agency shows we should read year-round

Reading is for life, not just for August

The Reading Agency

Our review of the Scottish Animation Sector, commissioned by Creative Scotland, has just been published

Review of the Scottish Animation Sector

Creative Scotland

UK-wide study of visitor experience practice provides new benchmarks for cultural and visitor attractions

Sharing Operations and Visitor Experience insight


Related Projects

Research, Data and Insight

Richard Naylor - Director, Research | BOP Consulting

Richard Naylor

Director, Research