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The Building Preservation Trust (BPT) Movement

BPTs are charitable organisations established to rescue historic buildings at risk by repairing and converting them for viable new uses.  They usually take on market failure buildings, where the cost of repair exceeds their restored value or where the future of a building is uncertain.

BPTs are part of a much wider movement established in response to the destruction and neglect of the historic built environment. The earliest BPT established in the UK was the Cambridge Preservation Society formed in 1929.

In Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland (established in 1931) launched the Little Houses Improvement Scheme  in 1960 which buys neglected or dilapidated historic properties then restores and sells them for the purpose of regeneration.  This pioneering scheme is widely recognised as the main inspiration for other subsequent building preservation initiatives across the UK.

One organisation pivotal in the growth of the BPT movement is the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) established in 1976 as an independent charity to provide readily available working capital to local preservation trusts throughout the country in order to help save historic buildings.

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has also been influential to the movement since its creation in 1975 – European Architectural Heritage Year – through its public campaigns to raise awareness of endangered historic buildings, with a special emphasis on the possibilities of alternative uses for such buildings.

The BPT movement grew significantly in the 1970s and 80s and there are now almost 300 BPTs in the UK whose common aims include the preservation and regeneration of historic buildings for the benefit of the public.  Most belong to the Heritage Trust Network the membership and representative organisation for BPTs.

The Scottish BPT movement is well established with the second half of the 1980s in particular being a very dynamic period when many individual trusts were set up.  A few BPTS operate across the whole of Scotland, several at regional or sub-regional level with the majority of trusts delivering results at the local level.

Since 1984, over 110 buildings have been successfully restored and 43 have been removed from the Scottish Buildings at Risk Register.  The majority of BPTs are run by volunteers but 11 trusts in Scotland have members of staff, including GBPT.