Civic Update

16 February 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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Photograph: Church

Civic Voice this week launched a new website devoted to celebrating the best in new architecture, public realm and historic buildings, as nominated by local communities. The website is available at The new website is packed with case studies recognising projects both large and small, previous winners of the awards featured on the website include Winton Chapel, Winchester (2017), Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool (2016) and Gloucester Services (Northbound) (2015). The key theme running through all winning projects is communities celebrating high quality design and having a great community story behind the projects.

To celebrate the launch of this new website, we focus this week's civic update on some of the awe inspiring project across England. Each is available on the new website along with further information. Together we are demanding a better built environment. Together we can get a better built environment. As a movement, we now need to shout out and tell others about these amazing stories. We need to lead from the front to say, consultation should not be tokenistic. People should be at the heart of new development. These are the key messages we will be pushing as the Government looks to start a review of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Did you know that the new website launched as we extended the deadline for Civic Voice Design Awards 2018 until March 14th 2018. We are using the site to say to people, “Do you have something in your area that is as good as previous winners?” Apply for the Civic Voice Design Awards via


Winton Chapel, Winchester - truly stunning!!!

Photograph: Inside view of Winton Chapel

Name of scheme: Winton Chapel, University of Winchester

Nominating organisation: City of Winchester Trust

Category: Overall Winner

The project was to renovate and extend the University’s Victorian Chapel. In 2015 the University commissioned Design Engine Architects to oversee a complete restoration of its internal and external fabric. In addition, the University asked for an extension to the chapel, to include a small side chapel and a social and meeting space. The obvious location for the extension was to the north of the main Chapel but the site constraints limited its width to about 3m, with adjacent buildings only 5-6m away.

The resulting design is an empathetic response to the gothic revival building where its connection, form and materiality seem both intuitive and exciting. The design consists of a pitched roof structure that mirrors that of the existing building and allows light to penetrate into the perimeter exterior spaces. The ridge over-sails the existing building eaves line creating a clerestory window that provides both light and ventilation at high level. The plan form creates a twist in the pitched roof bringing an intriguing geometric dynamic to the new addition.

The overall winner for 2017 was Winton Chapel, Winchester. Read more on Winton Chapel on the new Civic Voice Design Awards website here.

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Western Terrace, Bath Riverside, Bath

Photograph: Western Terrace, Bath

Name of scheme: Alison Brooks Buildings (Western Terrace)

Nominating organisation: Bath Preservation Trust

Category: Housing, Winner

Part of a large Crest Nicholson regeneration project to develop 44 acres of former industrial land into a new residential quarter for the city of Bath. The Alison Brooks Buildings (Western Terrace) form the eastern part of the site and it is a mixed-use scheme, located on the banks of the River Avon. The development provides much needed new housing in an area of wholesale regeneration where a new community is being established.

The scheme goes against the trend of ‘everywhere architecture’, instead creating an original and thoughtful contemporary housing scheme which harmonises with the surrounding Georgian townscape but also surprises the onlooker with a variety of punctuated elevations, planes and views through the site.

Bath Western Riverside is a large infrastructure project for Bath and has undergone extensive public consultation over several years. Alison Brooks Architecture have successfully designed a new scheme that enhances the townscape of Bath; it does this by utilising classical architectural rules in a new and exciting way, ensuring the scheme sits comfortably within the Georgian city and does not compete with it, but displays its own compelling contemporary version of classicism. The scheme compliments and therefore enhances the surrounding Georgian cityscape.

Bath Preservation Trust believes that this stands out as the architectural ‘jewel in the crown’ in the development.

The judges said: “This is a stunning housing development which provides an interesting contemporary take on a proud local identity. It is good to see something new and intelligent in the housing sector, particularly within a World Heritage Site, and demonstrates to other developers that high quality housing can be achieved and you can be bold in a historic setting.”

Read more on Western Terrace on the new Civic Voice Design Awards website here.

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Warwick Hall Community Centre, Burford

Photograph: Warwick Hall Centre

The aspiration was to build a community space that is as beautiful and inspirational as the Cotswold landscape it sits within and to create a centre which will become central to the daily life of the local community. The Civic Voice Design Awards judging panel believes that aspiration has been realised.

The judges said: “Warwick Hall is a wonderful example of what contemporary architecture can achieve within a highly sensitive historic location. Bold, but sympathetic to its surroundings, the final design seamlessly integrates old and new and the community building has a beautiful composition and sense of space. We applaud the Burford community for its partnership approach, this project demonstrates what a community can achieve when it works together.”

Warwick Hall Community Centre has made an immediate and substantial impact on the area and its inhabitants. The design, honed through several iterations sparked by, amongst other things, representations from the community. Public involvement at all levels was critical if this project was going to succeed and the community were delighted to see that their feedback had a positive impact on the final scheme.

The project is, and will continue to be, an outstanding success, made possible only because the Church and the Town combined to bring it about. This collaborative partnership ensured that the many obstacles encountered along the way, including fundraising from the local community without borrowing, fighting for permissions and faculties as well as the usual onsite construction challenges, were overcome.

Read more on Warwick Hall on the new Civic Voice Design Awards website here.

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Grey to Green, Sheffield

Photograph: Square in Sheffield

Name of scheme: Grey to Green (Phase 1), Sheffield

Nominating organisation: Sheffield Civic Trust

Category: Public Realm, Winner

The judges said: “We applaud Sheffield City Council for investing in the quality of the city’s public realm and building innovative partnerships to find contemporary solutions to water management. Grey to Green is an outstanding example to other local authorities in transforming areas once dominated by tarmac and traffic into beautifully playful and high quality civic spaces.”

Innovative and inspiring, Grey to Green (Phase 1) is an impressive multi-purpose public space that demonstrates a new approach to improving the quality of the public realm in our town and city centres. The project has enhanced the public realm, made walking and cycling more attractive and enjoyable and improved connectivity between Sheffield’s Riverside Business District and the rest of the city centre.

The first phase of a 1.3km corridor of improvements, currently the largest planned retro-fit SUDS scheme in the UK, the project has taken an innovative approach to water management using a mix of natural and recycled materials and perennial low maintenance planting. The area’s heritage has been celebrated using five eye-catching public art ‘totems’ which reveal some of the area's colourful and unexpected history and associations. High quality landscaping, materials and bold, playful public art have created attractive civic spaces, providing opportunities for social interaction and enjoyment of nature.

Securing funding of £3.5m from the European Regional Development Fund and Sheffield City Region Infrastructure Fund the project will improve the city’s resilience to climate change while transforming ‘grey’ redundant road space within Sheffield’s Riverside Business District, into a network of ‘green’ flower meadows, wetlands and public spaces.

The scheme has embraced innovation to meet the challenges of climate change, reduced public funding and the need for more partnership and collaboration.

Read more on Grey to Green (Phase 1), Sheffield on the new Civic Voice Design Awards website here.

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Apply online at

Photograph: Winton Chapel

If you are inspired by some of these schemes, please do think about putting forward a nomination for the Civic Voice Design Awards 2018. The deadline has been extended until March 14th so you have 4 weeks to think about what scheme could be entered!

Griff Rhys Jones, President of Civic Voice.

“The Civic Voice Design Awards are a wonderful opportunity for local communities up and down the country to nominate local buildings and designers for recognition. These awards show that people are willing to welcome the new developments we need when they have been properly consulted and involved and where the quality of design has been of the highest standard."

Apply online at

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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

Does your civic society want a visit from the chairwoman 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 with your request.