In Europe and the USA there is a growing awareness of the wider benefits of supporting the built heritage directly through the public purse. This paper concentrates on an aspect of research conducted in recent years in the United Kingdom regarding the dynamic benefits of conservation. In the findings of the joint study of the Department of National Heritage, English Heritage and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors the absence of case studies to provide evidence of the benefits of `pump-priming' historic areas was recognized and the need to identify the benefits of such action was highlighted. This has further support from the Council of Europe's document Funding the Architectural Heritage (1991) which refers to the importance of monitoring the running, management and re-use of heritage assets. Moreover, examination of case studies allows the opportunity to consider whether investment is able to improve the economic and social performance of an area. In this paper a comparison will be made of selected exemplar projects in Europe and the USA. Some of the acknowledged direct and indirect benefits of urban conservation strategies are examined. The benefits of co-ordinated partnership action to revitalize historic centres are considered in light of the Council of Europe Helsinki Declaration (1996) in which it was acknowledged that the sustaining of the cultural heritage should be a principle established for combined action in which both public and private operators have a responsibility to assist.