HLF commissioned BritainThinks to conduct research into the impact of its investment in the UK’s heritage over the last 20 years. The study was carried out between September 2013 and June 2014.

The research was designed to understand levels of awareness of heritage and HLF funding, and the benefit that local residents perceive HLF funding has had, both for them personally and for the wider community in which they live. It was therefore undertaken with random samples of local residents, rather than with individuals who have had close levels of engagement or participation in HLF funded projects – for example, though volunteering.

The research has generated a large amount of new data about the relationship between heritage, people and place. There is much more analysis that could be done with this data, beyond what HLF and BritainThinks have been able to undertake so far – for example looking in greater detail at the results by different demographic groups or by heritage sector. We welcome and encourage others to review, analyse and combine the results with other data sets – and share what you find. 

Summary of research method

  • All places in the UK with a population of more than 10,000 residents were grouped into 12 bands by population size. One area was selected from each band at random, and then vetted for suitability
  • Desk research to compile trends over the last 20 years was carried out for all 12 places
  • A telephone survey with 350 residents aged 18 or over was conducted in all 12 places 
  • In-depth interviews with local stakeholders were carried out in six places
  • And a half-day workshop with residents was conducted in six of the 12 places

The desk research was carried out to contextualise the subsequent stages of the research process by examining how the each area has changed over the two decades since HLF was established.

The telephone survey was undertaken with around 350 residents. In total, across the 12 locations, 4,223 residents were interviewed. 

A list of five stakeholder types to be interviewed was agreed between HLF and BritainThinks – covering academia, business, community/voluntary sector, local government and tourism.

At the workshops, a number of exercises were used to stimulate discussion and gauge personal feelings and responses. The following topics were covered at all workshops:

  • Views of the area
  • Attitudes towards and engagement with local heritage
  • The benefits of heritage

These locations were selected for all strands of research:

These locations were selected for desk research and quantitative research only:

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