Civic Voice logo

Civic Update

12 May 2017


This week Laura Sandys, Vice-President of Civic Voice, called on communities to get involved in national issues during a speech to the Highgate Society AGM on Wednesday 10th May.

With a 33% reduction in conservation officers in local government since 2008, the civic movement really is the last line of defence to champion the importance of the 10,000 conservation areas across England. Highlighting Laura's talk about the importance of the civic movement, have you ever wondered what your town would look like without a civic society? Read here what Cockermouth and District Civic Trust have to say as they celebrate their 50th anniversary.

And for anyone who thinks the historic environment is a barrier to growth, you should tell them about Sunbridge Wells, Bradford, which has been shortlisted for the Civic Voice Design Awards. We will be making a member visit to it later this year. Finally, we have been connecting civic societies large and small together this week with our latest membership meetings, as we look to the future of the civic movement.

Contents:


Laura Sandys delivers "Big Conservation Conversation" talk to Highgate Society

Photograph: Laura Sandys, Vice-President explaining the challenges facing conservation areas across England

Laura Sandys, Vice-President explaining the challenges facing conservation areas across England

Laura Said said: “I think it’s great that Civic Voice is holding the Big Conservation Conversation. At a time when Parliamentarians talk localism, it is really up to the civic movement to make the local voice a national issue.

She asked the audience to all do their bit by meeting their local parliamentary candidate to ask:

Joan Humble, Chair of Civic Voice said: “The civic society movement dates back to 1846 when the world’s first civic society was created in Sid Vale in Devon. But it was Lord Duncan Sandys who gave it a stronger, national voice in 1957 when he created the Civic Trust. By bringing the civic movement together under a national body it enabled it to grow into one of the country’s most important social movements. I am delighted that Laura Sandys is involved in our Big Conservation Conversation to celebrate 50 years of Conservation Areas.”

Join the Big Conservation Conversation here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * * *

CEO of Wychavon and Malvern Hills to join in Big Conservation Conversation

Photograph: Jack Hegarty, CEO, Malvern and Wychavon

Jack Hegarty, CEO, Malvern and Wychavon to speak on the challenges facing conservation areas across England as part of National Civic Day

The Big Conservation Conversation was launched by Civic Voice at the 2016 Annual Convention and AGM in Chester. We are working with communities across England to say "My Conservation Area Matters" and to encourage a Big Conservation Conversation.

When conservation areas legislation was introduced, there was widespread public concern over the pace of redevelopment in our historic towns and cities. Today there are over 10,000 conservation areas in the UK (approximately 9,300 in England, 500 in Wales, 650 in Scotland and 60 in Northern Ireland) reflecting the popularity of this legislative tool in identifying and protecting our most valued historic places.

With over 32 years in local government, Jack Hegarty heads up both Malvern Hills District and Wychavon Councils. He is a town planner by profession and will talk about planning pressures and growth and the concurrent responsibilities for conservation and heritage.

With slides and opportunity for discussion, this should be a very interesting evening. Civic Voice’s theme for Civic Day this year is ‘The Big Conservation Conversation’ and this is the Malvern Society's contribution to that.

Join the Big Conservation Conversation here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * *

Civic Voice members get together in Leeds and Birmingham to look to the future

Photograph: Delegates at the smaller societies meeting in Birmingham discussing ways to take action to get more volunteers.

Delegates at the smaller societies meeting in Birmingham discussing ways to take action to get more volunteers.

Today, the need for civic societies is, perhaps, more important than ever. Civic societies need to be able to meet the challenges of operating effectively in what is often a fast-moving environment and responding quickly to a range of stakeholder demands. Some civic societies have risen to this challenge while others seem to be struggling: some have a good on-line presence while others are invisible; some report they can attract new members, others that they cannot; and so on. So, what are the opportunities and challenges facing civic societies in England today? Is the civic society movement overall healthy or in danger of extinction? We have started a series of members meetings with groups in Leeds and Birmingham to discuss this.

We know that many civic societies in England do some marvellous things, often with little finance and low membership numbers, but many also report that they are finding things increasingly difficult, in part, because of an ageing membership and an inability to recruit younger people. Civic societies come in many shapes and sizes and include urban, suburban, rural and coastal societies, big and small, city, town and village, and each faces its own unique problems. Are there any common threads? Could Civic Voice and regional forums do more to help? We have started bringing civic societies together through a series of forums to start considering this issue.

These forums have taken place in Leeds and Birmingham with more planned. If you are interested in hosting such a meeting with other civic societies, do let us know here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * * *

Sunbridge Wells Bradford shortlisted for Civic Voice Design Awards

Photograph: Sunbridge Wells, Bradford shortlisted for Civic Voice Design Award

Sunbridge Wells, Bradford shortlisted for Civic Voice Design Award

Name of scheme: Sunbridge Wells, Bradford

Nominating organisation: Bradford Civic Society

Shortlisted category: Historic Buildings

Sunbridge Wells, Bradford, is shortlisted for a Civic Voice Design Award 2017. It is a truly unique complex of boutique shops, café bars, restaurants and craft market stalls housed in a long-forgotten network of historic tunnels underneath Bradford City Centre.

Bradford Civic Society nominated the scheme after being blown away by the sheer amount of effort, passion and attention-to-detail invested in this unique project. They simply believe there's nothing like it in the UK, and they are proud to have it in their patch.

Originally a 13th century quarry, the tunnels have a remarkable history. In more recent years the tunnels lay abandoned and sealed off, with only a dilapidated door off Centenary Square that most people wouldn't have even noticed. But then local developer Graham Hall had a vision: to remodel the tunnels and adjoining derelict buildings as a three-storey leisure complex housing independent shops and young, creative entrepreneurs on flexible terms. After a painstaking programme of excavation, restoration and innovation, the tunnels once again welcomed hordes of curious Bradfordians in December 2016 – with parts of it being opened up again for the first time in over a century.

The result is a delightful subterranean shopping and leisure project, the likes of which you'd struggle to find in any other UK city. To date, the complex houses specialty bars and cafes, a handful of boutique shops, and a collection of market stalls – with more units set to open this year, including the historic Rose & Crown pub (and its original 1870 sign!) which fronts onto Bradford's oldest street (Ivegate).

At its wonderfully restored (and rather grand) Victorian entrance, Sunbridge Wells declares "Welcome to a world of pure imagination..." which just about sums up the fantastic nature of this remarkable project.

Civic Voice will be organising a study tour visit to Sunbridge Wells in September.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * * *

Lytham St Annes Civic Society and Marple Civic Society feature on national website as good practice

Photograph: Civic volunteers undertaking a Placecheck in Marple, North West

Civic volunteers undertaking a Placecheck in Marple, North West

Placecheck is the simplest, quickest way of finding out what a place and its people can tell us, and starting the process of making change happen. It is a method of taking the first steps in deciding how to improve an area. A Placecheck can be carried out for a street (or part of one), a park, a neighbourhood, a town centre or any other place. The setting might be urban, suburban or a village.

Lytham St Annes Civic Society

People in the Ansdell area of the seaside town of Lytham St Anne’s in Lancashire carried out a Placecheck to find out how to protect the quality of their delightful residential streets.

Read more here.

Marple Civic Society

A Placecheck in Marple, a small town in Greater Manchester, was carried out in 2012 against the background of a proposal for a supermarket on an out-of-town site. The council believes that there is a better site, in the town centre rather than outside it. What the Placecheck established in the minds of the Placecheckers was that it was not just a question of comparing the relative merits of two different sites.

Read more here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * * *

Sevenoaks Society explain how they championed a Local Heritage List

Photograph: Locally listed buildings in Dudley. Photo credit: Amblecote History Society

Locally listed buildings in Dudley. Photo credit: Amblecote History Society

Many civic societies have helped compile a Local Heritage List and are using it to ensure they have an extra "tool" to champion the local historic environment. This week, we have been sharing a video with civic societies starring Rob Loyd Sweet from Historic England

The 15 minute video introduces the basics of Local Heritage Lists, which, according to National Planning Policy Guidance, local lists which are incorporated into Local Plans can be a positive way for the local planning authority to identify non-designated heritage assets against consistent criteria so as to improve the predictability of the potential for sustainable development.

Interested in learning more about Local Heritage Lists? Why not watch the short video which explain the benefits here.

You can view the national guidance on Local Lists here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * * *

Renew your Civic Voice membership now

Photograph: Lytham St Annes Civic Society presenting Ian Harvey with their membership fee for 2017-18

Lytham St Annes Civic Society presenting Ian Harvey with their membership fee for 2017-18

Have you renewed yet?

We have been busy sending out reminders to all of our members about renewing their membership of Civic Voice. We have now sent renewal forms and contact forms to all of our groups and we want you to get them back to us as soon as possible. This week, Bewdley Civic Society, Blackpool Civic Trust, Desborough Civic Society, the Greenwich Society, Margate Civic Society, Matlock Civic Association and the Wandsworth Society all renewed their membership. 79 of our members have already sent back their renewals so what are you waiting for? Get your renewals in now.

Our hunt for new members

We are also on the hunt for new members. Now is the time to become a member of Civic Voice.

2017 is set to be one of the biggest years for the civic movement with the Big Conservation Conversation celebrating 50 years of conservation areas, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies continuing to give you a voice on a national level and the Civic Voice team continuing to support your civic society in any way we can.

Civic Voice members also receive a number of free gifts. Current offers include a National Trust pass, IHBC magazine on conservation areas (£5 to non members) and the 'History of the Civic Movement' book (£5 to non members).

It doesn't matter if you are a civic society, individual, corporate organisation or charity if you love where you live and want to make a change, we want to hear from you. We have membership packages for everyone. If you would like to learn more about what Civic Voice can do for you click here.

Make sure you renew and don't miss out on what is set to be one of the biggest years yet for the civic movement.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * *


Membership News


This section of civic update aims to give you a snap shot of what our members are doing locally to promote civic pride in their area. If you are a member of Civic Voice and are proud of what you have done this week, email your story to ben.murray@civicvoice.org.uk.

Join the movement!

 


Hunter Davies speaks at Cockermouth Civic Trust 50th celebrations

Picture: Hunter Davies conversing at our Lunch with Ian Dodsworth, our Treasurer, and Maureen Dodsworth, a Civic Trust member & former committee member. The photo was taken by Brian Coley, a committee member.

Hunter Davies conversing at our Lunch with Ian Dodsworth, our Treasurer, and Maureen Dodsworth, a Civic Trust member & former committee member. The photo was taken by Brian Coley, a committee member.

The Cockermouth and District Civic Trust, founded in 1967 to fight for conservation and good planning in Cockermouth, runs many other activities including lectures, tours & visits. They take a great interest in their town's past, present & future. They recently invited Hunter Davies to help them celebrate their 50th anniversary and give a talk on the work of the wider civic movement.

The dinner was also used to launch a celebratory 50th anniversary newsletter focusing on the history and achievements of the Trust, rather than current news. It has articles by a number of members, past and present, including one from David Sekers, a founding member.

Hunter’s talk focused on his wife, Margaret Forster, and their life together, from their meeting as teenagers in Carlisle to their life in London and Loweswater. Margaret had kept diaries every few years for the whole of her life and since her death.sic

The Civic Trust finished the meeting by raising a toast to the achievements and future success of the Trust and remembered those who had made significant contributions over the years.

If Cockermouth hadn't had a Civic Trust for the last 50 years:

So here is to the next 50 years and hoping that Cockermouth Civic Trust continues to live on and achieve for the good of our historic town.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * * *

Norwich Society looks to the future and ask what do autonomous vehicles look like.

A primary concern for the Norwich Society, like most Civic Societies, is the preservation, development and improvement of the historic features and general public amenity of the City.

But, again like most Civic Societies, the Society also looks to the future, seeking high standards of architecture and town planning. Three years ago, this led the Society to produce a vision of how Norwich could look in 2035, highlighting the improvements that it would like to see in the coming decades.

This ambitious report – Norwich 2035 – presented a vision of a City that would make the best of its unique heritage, reducing the traffic domination of the City centre whilst maintaining accessibility; facilitating activities for everyone during the day and in the evenings; providing homes for more people to live in the centre; and making Norwich a magnet for businesses to invest. One controversial ambition was to transform the street below Norwich Castle from its current role as a virtual bus station into an area where people can relax and eat or drink outside, in an iconic location.

Transport was a key issue and this first report was followed up last year by a second expanding on this issue. The Getting around in Norwich report put forward a comprehensive set of policies for improving transport into and around the City centre aimed at retaining ease of access while greatly improving the quality of the City’s environment. The publication of this report has led to an ongoing fruitful relationship with the City’s transport planners.

Then, earlier this year, the Society published a speculative report on the changes that the introduction of autonomous and electric vehicles might bring to cities such as Norwich. Titled New Transport Technologies and the Future of the City, this covered issues ranging from the possibility that on-street and city centre parking may be unnecessary in future to the benefits that quiet and clean vehicles will bring to the city centres, making them more amenable to public uses of all kinds.

These substantial reports can be found on the Norwich Society website here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * * *

Marc Reeves, Trinity Mirror announced as Spring Reception Speaker. Fact!

Photograph: Birmingham Civic Society Chair, Gavin Orton

Birmingham Civic Society Chair, Gavin Orton

Marc Reeves, Editor of the Birmingham Post and Birmingham Mail and Editor-in-Chief for Trinity Mirror Midlands, will be the 2017 Spring Reception speaker for Birmingham Civic Society. #Notfakenews!

We now have instant access to news with the ability to share and even create stories. What impact is this having on the way we receive and understand events happening around the world? Marc will be sharing his thoughts on how the nature of news and storytelling has evolled over recent years and what its future may look like.

We hope that you can join civic volunteer and others in Birmingham and look forward to seeing you at DWF. This event is for Birmingham Civic Society corporate members and guests.

When: Thursday 25 May, 6 - 8pm

Where: DWF LLP, One Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, B4 6GA

Book: here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * *

Get Involved!

Sign up for Civic Voice's range of newlsetters

Photograph: Group of conservationists

Regional War Memorials workshops

Photograph: Group holding 'save our memorials' banner

Trustees' Roadshow

Photograph: Trustees

Big Conservation Conversation

Sign up here to receive monthly news on what national and local events are coming up to celebrate conservation areas.

Civic Day

Sign up here to receive monthly news on what communities are doing to celebrate their local area.

Civic Voice Design Awards News

Sign up here to receive monthly news on planning and housing issues in the UK.

War Memorials News

Sign up here to receive bi-weekly news on what communities are doing to commemorate the fallen during the centenary years

Civic Voice is calling for volunteers from around England to attend a meeting or workshop with us to discuss how best to find and survey every war memorial.

Workshops will be announced throughout the year in different locations, so keep a look out for a workshop in your area! You can see them here.

If you can't attend a workshop why not get involved through our War Memorials Condition Survey Toolkit. This is an easy step by step guide which trains volunteers how to carry out condition surveys on war memorials. You can see this here!

For more information or to get involved email info@civicvoice.org.uk.

Does your civic society want a visit from the chair of Civic Voice or perhaps you would like another trustee or member of the Civic Voice team to come and speak to your society? We have a number of people willing to come and talk to your society about all things civic.

Many of the Civic Voice team have been travelling the country delivering the talk which is titled 'The Future of the Civic Movement.' If you would like one of our trustees or team members to come and speak to your society please email info@civicvoice.org.uk with your request.

CLICK TO RETURN TO CIVIC VOICE NEWs

CLICK LOGO TO GO BACK TO CIVIC VOICE NEWS