Civic Update

11 May 2018

Our new address is:
Civic Voice, The Coffin Works, 13-15 Fleet Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, B3 1JP.
Tel.: 0121 792 8177
Please update your records.

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Responding to member feedback, we are changing how regularly we send civic update out to Civic Voice members. You are receiving this update because you are a Civic Voice member and the information about events and meetings we are holding are to help us work together to raise the voice of the civic movement.

Working together we can influence the Government and future consultations but to do that we need your help starting with. make sure you remember to renew your membership for 2018! You can join Civic Voice here.


Parliamentary meeting asks "What is the future for Conservation Areas?"

Photograph: APPG Group

Civic Voice's Vice-President, the Chairman of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation and Laura Sandys were just some of the names confirmed to appear at the recent All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies meeting on May 8th. Remember, without Civic Voice, Parliamentary meetings focused on civic society issues would not be able to function as Ian Harvey, Civic Voice Executive Director, is the Secretary for the group.

Organised by Civic Voice and chaired by Craig Mckinlay MP, another meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies was held on 8th May to discuss the future of conservation areas. Speakers included Institute of Historic Building Conservation Chairman, James Caird, Joan Humble, Chairwoman of Civic Voice, Laura Sandys, Vice President of Civic Voice and Councillor Karen Rowland from Reading.

The basis for the discussions was the report just produced by Civic Voice “The Future of Conservation Areas” which draws on data produced by Historic England and their own survey of our own members. People will be familiar with the stories of the shocking state of local authority conservation services which was retold time and again by members of local civic societies. The panel fielded questions on local lists, enforcement and local authority resources. Sensibly, Laura Sandys picked up on the need to find different solutions, recognising that local authority conservation resources are not likely to improve in the foreseeable future. Engaging communities in managing their own conservation areas, possibly through neighbourhood plans, is an obvious way forward which IHBC has been promoting.

Our report stated that we believe that the figure of 512 conservation areas designated to be 'at risk' is somewhat higher in reality. This is what led us to start piloting our Civic Conservation Audit. Although not developed to determine if a Conservation Area is at risk, by using a standard approach, and with some training, we believe we can develop an alternative assessment of the issues and identify real examples that are putting areas at risk. You can read here why Sutton Coldfield Civic Society decided to participate in the pilot here. An audit and action plan, prepared by Bewdley Civic Society as part of the pilot is also available to view here as an example of what you can achieve by using our Audit.

At the meeting, we launched a new report on the Future of Conservation Areas; read the report here. This report has only been possible due to the financial donations from civic societies across England. We thank you for the support!

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Civic Voice submit final response to draft National Planning Policy Framework consultation

Picture: montage of words used in report.

The draft National Planning Policy Framework was published by the Prime Minister on 6th March with the consultation closing on 10th May. To put forward your views we:

Our final consultation response to the draft National Planning Policy Framework is available here.

In our view, whilst the Government wants to see `The right homes in the right places` the draft National Planning Policy Framework is so lacking in teeth to ensure that the policies will be delivered, and combined with under-resourced local councils, that we are very likely to end up with the wrong homes in the wrong places.

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Civic Voice Regional Forum asks for your feedback on telephone kiosks

Photograph: Group of people in discussion on the street.

The Civic Voice Regional Forum, chaired by Helen Kidman, recently met in the Civic Voice Head Office to continue to act as a national forum to contribute to Civic Voice's strategic policy direction. It is another opportunity for Civic Voice members to influence the work we do. The theme of this meeting was on conservation areas and we had external speakers from Historic England, Ilkley Civic Society and Bewdley Civic Society, all of who give presentations on various aspects of conservation area management. The group also heard about the success of the first meeting of the new sub-regional East of England Civic and Amenity Societies Association took place in April (see image).

The group furthermore discussed the draft National Planning Policy Framework and an enquiry from Alan Morris, Bristol Civic Society who has raised with the Regional Forum the issue of large street advertisement kiosks with phone/broadband connections which are planned for Bristol city centre in large numbers. Several members present indicated that they are popping up in other places, to the detriment of the street scene.

It was agreed that Helen Kidman, Chair of the Regional Forum would gather some more information around (but not limited to) the following questions:

If you have any experience of any of the above issues, or would like to contribute to the Regional Forum going forward, please contact Helen Kidman here. (Editor's note: This link does not work)

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Parliamentary meeting to ask "Can communities own the future of Conservation Areas"

Photograph: Line up of people with 'Civic Day' shirts on.

Here at Civic Voice we believe that communities can play a much greater role in managing their local conservation area. Groups such as the Deal Society and Conservation Areas Wirral are already leading the way and are just some of the groups featured on the new Big Conservation Conversation website that can be accessed here.

In our view, looking after conservation areas is a responsibility shared by those of us who live, work or do business in them as well as those of us whose job it is to manage them or make decisions about their future. Yet 56% of people do not even realise that they live in a conservation area. Conservation Areas must be protected - they have an important role as we look to the future. Conservation areas can help councils, civic groups and communities to preserve what's really special of our towns, villages and cities for future generations to enjoy.

Civic Voice recognises that for the long-term future protection of conservation areas, we need more communities playing a role.

At our next Parliamentary meeting we will be publishing a new report recognising that in the next few years communities across England will be celebrating their own local conservation a

The report shows that local authorities and community groups have the same ambitions for where they live and that together they are both stronger. We hear about examples from communities across England where communities have come together to celebrate their conservation areas.

This event will be used to help launch National Civic Day on June 16th when communities across England will organise events in hundreds of conservation areas.

Register to attend this meeting here.

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GDPR - getting your Civic Society ready for the new legislation.

Picture: Acronym GDPR inside circle of stars

From 25 May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect. This requires us and you(!) to review and update your records to ensure you are compliant going forward. GDPR is not intended to be a quick fix- the 25th May 2018 is just the beginning, not the end, of your compliance journey. You will need to continually review and improve how your civic society handles personal information. A lot of information has been shared by various organisations that has contributed to the confusion; in some cases, inaccurate information has been shared.

Please have a look at the attached YHACS Bulletin here, which sets out things in more detail with a specific civic society angle. This includes some examples of a new Privacy Policy that Wakefield Civic Society have introduced. You are free to copy and/or adapt this for your own use.

We are thankful to YHACS for sharing this document for the benefit of the wider civic movement.

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Civic Voice call for stronger protection on non-designated heritage assets in Planning Policy by publishing national register of local authorities with a Local Heritage List

Picture: An unidentified building

New research by Civic Voice, funded by Historic England’s Heritage Protection Commissions programme, shows that at least 168 local authorities across the country now have a Local Heritage List in place, giving greater protection to non-designated heritage assets. These authorities are active in listening to communities about what buildings, structures, sites and landscapes make the local area special.

The first national register of Local Heritage Lists is being published by Civic Voice today to inspire other communities to knock on the door of their local council and to campaign for more Local Heritage Lists to be created. The register is published alongside a new Civic Voice guide highlighting examples of local communities who have helped prepare Local Heritage Lists.

Sarah James, Civic Voice expert on Local Heritage Lists said: “Local planning authorities are encouraged to consider making clear and up-to-date information on their identified non-designated heritage assets, both in terms of the criteria used to identify assets and information about the location of existing assets, accessible to the public. We don’t think this goes far enough. By publishing this first national register we want to highlight that we have a long way to go to protect our local heritage. In our response to the draft National Planning Policy Framework we will be asking the Government to make it mandatory for local authorities to prepare a Local Heritage List.”

The Local Heritage List National Register and Local Heritage List Guide is available here.

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