More than 9,000 listed buildings in the UK have been chosen to be preserved for their architectural and historic interest. These buildings range from churches to office blocks to flats and making even minor cosmetic changes often involves residents applying for consent from their local authority. For bigger changes or structural issues, these buildings will also need in-depth property inspections and reviews before changes are made.

Britain has a storied cultural and architectural history which is preserved by these buildings and enables them to enrich our streets even when nestled amongst corporate buildings and skyscrapers. Therefore, we wanted to understand what impact these historical buildings have on the desirability and profitability of all properties in the surrounding area.

By calculating the number of Grade I and II listed buildings in each city and comparing that with average rental yields, we identified a pattern that reveals the link between history and profitability.

Out of the 20 cities with the most historical buildings, 9 also featured in the top 10 highest rental yields, suggesting rental desirability and cost is linked with the cultural quality of a city.

The 20 Most Historic Cities and their Rental Yields

CityPopulationTotal Listed BuildingsRental Yield
London8908081193323.54%
(7) Edinburgh48805098574.74%
(1) Glasgow63312046977.52%
Bath8885937473.46%
Bradford52987024144.22%
(5) Leeds79313923144.87%
Bristol46340021404.10%
(9) Aberdeen19667020414.54%
York20820016112.79%
(8) Liverpool49804215444.62%
(3) Birmingham114181615184.92%
Stirling9433014934.29%
(10) Dundee14827013764.35%
Brighton29088512273.38%
(4) Sheffield58485311794.90%
Oxford15460011493.17%
Norwich13251210344.10%
Exeter1243289943.21%
Peterborough2021109403.74%
(2) Manchester5476278905.19%
(The numbers in brackets represent their position in the rental yield league table)
  • Glasgow is has the 3rd highest number of listed buidlings and the highest average rental yield at a whopping 7.52%.
  • The average rental yield is 4.12%, meaning 11 of these top 20 cities have a rental yield above the UK average.
  • The only city in the top 10 for rental yield not to place in this top 20 is Salford, which has the 2nd lowest number of listed buildings at 196.

Preservation vs Progress

Liverpool has recently been stripped of its World Heritage status due to new developments that Unesco claims invalidate the city’s status as a heritage site.

Mayor Steve Rotheram stated: “Places like Liverpool should not be faced with the binary choice between maintaining heritage status or regenerating left-behind communities and the wealth of jobs and opportunities that come with it.”

The city is only the third place in history to lose this status, which some believe could affect tourism and investment. This is another indication of how culture influences interest in and appetite for a city.