Civic Update

2 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.


It has never been easier for civic groups to work with schools and colleges and the reasons for doing so have never been more compelling. Key Stage 3 and 4 both now have a dedicated Citizenship programme of study. Many different civic groups across England are already regularly working with schools and colleges and are deepening their relationships. Others are planning to get involved for the first time.

However, many civic groups say that they are unsure about how to go about developing a relationship with a local school, so, Civic Voice in partnership with War Memorials Trust has put together the following training events that we hope will help you.

We want to use the events to show how community can engage new audiences and consider how we ensure young people get involved in the historic environment sector.

Engaging Young People in Heritage events coming to a neighbourhood near you:


Member profile - The Cookham Society join with 1600 members

Picture: Cookham Society heading

The Cookham Society became Civic Voice's newest member when they joined for the first time last week. The Cookham Society is an active local amenity society with more than 1,600 members and a very strong track record in looking after the interests of Cookham and its residents. Its aims are for the benefit of the public, to protect, preserve, improve or create features of general public amenity, historic, architectural, artistic, social or cultural importance and those relating to the beauty and ecology within the geographical area known as ‘The Cookhams’ in Berkshire.

Acting through an elected Committee, the Society keeps a watch on all matters affecting the locality. These include planning applications and development, roads, bridges, bridleways and footpaths, public open spaces, the riverside, tree planting and preservation, local services and so on. An Annual General Meeting is held in the Spring to elect the Committee for the following year, approve the accounts, etc. Social meetings and events are held from time to time, when members have an opportunity to meet the Committee and discuss matters of local interest.

Periodically, the Society issues a Newsletter reporting on its activities and drawing attention to matters of local concern. On major local issues a Special Meeting will be called to ensure that the Society reflects the majority view. The Cookham Society now has its own Facebook page. If you want to stay updated why not join The Cookham Society Facebook group here.

The Society recognises that in a healthy community such as the Cookhams there will always be the need for development. To ensure there is an adequate framework for the consideration of planning proposals the Society has co-sponsored, with Cookham Parish Council, the production of a Village Design Statement.

You can learn more about The Cookham Society on their website here.

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Heritage and Conservation Areas in London - What next?

Civic societies from across the London will e heading to a debate on Heritage and Conservation Areas in London - What next? on March 6th for an event to discuss Heritage and Conservation Areas in London - What next?. Across London, nearly 80 conservation areas have been designated at risk, more than any other region.

Two speakers from Historic England, David English and Duncan McCallum will review 50 years of Conservation Areas, how they and other parts of our heritage are affected by changing planning policy and borough decisions and what communities could do to assist in conservation. The meeting will be at 75 Cowcross Street, London with a 6.30 pm start.

Regional meetings are held throughout the year across England. You can see more dates here.

Graph: Conservation areas at risk per region

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What will you do for National Civic Day? Skipton Civic Trust share some thoughts.

Picture: Civic Day circular badge

Civic Day is a national celebration of civic pride and is taking place on June 16 2018. We believe that the future of conservation areas can be positive. We believe we can put communities in control of conservation areas. We believe we can see more communities such as The Deal Society playing a central role in long term management of their local area. But we need your help. Research by Historic England, shows that only a small majority of those surveyed who live in a Conservation Area (56%) were aware that they actually live in one. This suggests a need to raise awareness. We need you to get involved and organise activities in conservation areas. We want you to celebrate and champion conservation areas.

In this regular feature, we will include ideas that are coming in from civic societies across England each week so you can see how other groups are celebrating where they live.

Skipton Civic Trust are proposing to mount an exhibition about Skipton Conservation Area as they did last year; and to lead a guided walkabout in the Conservation Area. They are also considering a new booklet related to local First World War history. If you want to share what you are doing for National Civic Day 2018 on June 16, let us know.

Skipton say they are getting involved in National Civic Day to recruit new members and to support the campaign for conservation areas. If you want to be involved, register for National Civic Day here.

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Laura Sandys, Civic Voice Vice-president says "Help us test a new Conservation Area Audit Tool"

Photograph: Laura Sandys

15 civic societies have responded to Laura Sandys request for help in developing the next stages of the Civic Conservation tool as developed by Civic Voice members. It is clear to us that community groups want to take action in identifying the issues putting conservation areas at risk.

We have developed this tool with representatives of the civic movement to respond to feedback from members who want to take more action in a conservation area. We now want some community groups and conservation officers to help us road test the audit and feedback to us. The tool has been designed to be lite-touch and accessible for non-professionals. You do not need to be a conservation expert to use this tool, but you do need to care about where you live!

In time, we hope the Civic Voice Conservation Area Audit will give a local authority the confidence that a community group who has used this tool has provided a good assessment of the key issues facing the area and wants to play a part in helping to tackle them. In the current climate of fewer local authority conservation officers, this tool will help you and, in turn, the local authority, to be the 'eyes and ears' of the conservation area.

Every group who has donated to Civic Voice for our Big Conservation Conversation campaign will be credited as a sponsor of this tool. Do you want to join them? We need your donations to help us organise our events, raise the profile of the movement and to continue to lobby for more investment in conservation areas.

Let's work together during 2018 to say that conservation areas matter!

We still have time and need more input so If you want to be involved in the pilot, email We will let you know how it goes over the next few weeks.

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Thinking ahead is key to better area says Oswestry Civic Society

Oswestry and District Civic Society have met to discuss the possibility of forward planning until 2050, as members believe that Shropshire Council's current Local Plan Review, which reviews plans until 2036, is not sufficient.

The plans were presented to a large audience including town and parish councillors, as well as residents, all keen to hear how the Society believe Shropshire Council should plan the future of the area in a meeting led by chairman Saffron Rainey.

David Ward, the planning adviser for Oswestry Civic Society, said: "The growth could be far more effective in making Oswestry a successful and thriving town. Housing and major employers, particularly the Orthopaedic Hospital, could be effectively linked by good public transport. We believe that future generations will have a far better town if realistic plans are made," continued Mr Ward.

The Civic Society is asking councillors to work together and discuss the potential of the 2050 scheme.

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West Midlands regional meeting discusses future of Conservation Areas

Civic societies from across the West Midlands headed to Malvern on Saturday 27th January for a day to discuss the future of the West Midland's conservation areas. Across the West Midlands, nearly 60 conservation areas have been designated at risk with 27 classed as deteriorating further. The meeting was hosted by Malvern Civic Society.

The attendees heard about the issues impacting Malvern's conservation areas and Civic Voice's Phil Douce presented the latest updates on our Big Conservation Conversation campaign, whilst Elizabeth Allison, Sutton Coldfield Civic Society shared her experiences of the Civic Voice Conservation Audit. The Civic Voice Conservation Audit is a tool we have been developing to help assess the condition of a conservation area and it provides a simple framework to structure conversations about the future of your conservation area.

Future meeting dates for meetings in the West Midlands can be found here.

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Annual Convention heading to Birmingham to celebrate 100 years of the civic movement

Photographs: Speakers at the Convention

Top row: RIBA President, Tony Barton, Insalls Ben Derbyshire (RIBA President) Sir Terry Farrell Middle Row: Ros Kerslake, CEO Heritage Lottery Fund, Deborah Lamb, Historic England and Sarah Mcleod Heritage Trust Network Bottom row: Dame Fiona Reynolds, Laura Sandys & Griff Rhys Jones

The annual gathering of the civic movement will be heading to Birmingham in 2018 and we have the best line up of speakers planned. We will be hosted by Birmingham Civic Society and the theme in 2018 will be "Development in a conservation area". We will be learning the lessons from the Civic Voice Design Awards and showing how communities are championing well-designed new build, heritage and public realm projects across England.

We have confirmed the first nine speakers and more speakers will be confirmed later in the year.

The dates you need are 19/20 October and booking will open in March.

Why are we heading to Birmingham? To help Birmingham Civic Society celebrate 100 years of the civic movement. The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded a grant of £55,700 towards the project to celebrate the centenary of the Society. The Centenary programme will include a Young People’s Blue Plaque film project, an outdoor temporary exhibition in the city centre, a citywide heritage trail, conserving the statue of Queen Victoria in Victoria Square, installing four new Blue Plaques to notable citizens, enhancing information about our Archive in the Library of Birmingham, increasing the historical content on our website, and delivering a whole range of tours, talks, and family activities throughout 2018.

Read more about Birmingham Civic Society's centenary here.

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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

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Civic Day

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Civic Voice Design Awards News

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War Memorials News

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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.