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Civic Update

2 June 2017

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

With us now heading toward National Civic Day on June 17th, we continue looking at the different activities taking place across the country to celebration local conservation areas. Read in this week's civic update what Southgate Civic Trust, Spalding and District Civic Trust and the Wakefield Society are all doing to celebrate National Civic Day and protect their local conservation areas.

We also announce the date and location of this year's Civic Voice Design Awards ceremony and are delighted that we will be supported by Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners at the "Cheesegrater".

We were delighted that Bradford Civic Society this week confirmed the election of the youngest civic society Chair in the country, with the appointment of Si Cunningham.

Sign up to the National Civic Day on June 17th and celebrate where you live.


Civic Voice Design Awards to be hosted at 'The Cheesegrater', London

Photograph: The Leadenhalll Building, known as 'The Cheesegrater'

The Leadenhalll Building, known as 'The Cheesegrater' (right hand side of picture).

Photograph: Three people standing in front of huge sign advertising the architects' name Photograph: Lecture theatre; presumably where the ceremony will take place

Civic Voice is delighted to announce that this year's Civic Voice Design Awards ceremony will be supported this year by Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners and will take place in The Leadenhall Building, 122 Leadenhall Street, known as the "The Cheesegrater". It is a 225m (737ft) tall building on Leadenhall Street in the heart of the City of London. The commercial skyscraper, opened in July 2014 and was designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners. It is informally known as "The Cheesegrater" because of its distinctive wedge shape.

We are delighted that Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners are hosting the event; RSHP have long supported the Civic Voice Design Awards in one of our judges, Tracy Meller, Partner at RSHP. Richard Rogers Partnership became Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners in 2007 to reflect the growing importance of two of the younger partners, Graham Stirk and Ivan Harbour, and their role alongside Richard Rogers in the practice’s future. Lord Rogers, famously known for designing Centre Pompidou and Lloyd's of London, was the leader of the 1998 Urban Task Force and author of the White Paper, Towards an Urban Renaissance, which looked at the causes of urban decline and established a vision for Britain's cities based on the principles of design excellence, social well-being and environmental responsibility.

Speakers confirmed to attend the event include:

The event will be invitation only and only open to individuals whose Civic Societies are members of Civic Voice.

Max Farrell, Chair of the Civic Voice Design Awards said: "We are all very excited about this year's Civic Voice Design Awards. The quality of entries continues to get higher and we are lucky enough to have the awards ceremony at The Cheesegrater. These awards are at the forefront of an important culture change, where people feel more empowered to shape their built environment and their views to genuinely count. Congratulations to everyone involved, in particular the excellent Civic Voice team for making this happen."

For more information about this event please check here.

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England’s youngest Civic Society chairman elected to Bradford Civic Society

Photograph: Si Cunningham - picture via Bradford Telegraph and Argus.

Si Cunningham - picture via Bradford Telegraph and Argus.

Journalist Simon Cunningham (aged 30) has, this week, been elected as Chairman of Bradford Civic society and has, today, called on all civic societies to reach out to younger audiences.

Simon said, “You look at some of the pictures of civic societies and it’s almost always older, white people. We need younger people. Bradford Civic Society now needs to attract more younger members, as well as those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds,” giving a frank warning that, “If that doesn’t happen, it will die out.”

Ian Harvey, Executive Director of Civic Voice said, “Civic societies are as relevant today as when the world’s first civic society was created in Sid Vale in Devon in 1846 but we cannot ignore the fact though that 80% of civic volunteers are over 55. We need to be thinking constantly about how we can bring in the new front line to protect the historic environment. I am delighted that Si Cunningham has been elected to lead Bradford Civic Society.”

Si said: “With a 33% reduction in conservation officers in local government across England my two key aims for the Civic Society are to campaign for the preservation of Bradford’s architectural heritage while also calling for “better design” within modern developments and we hope to start by introducing a Bradford Design Awards, which could recognise excellence in major developments, shopfronts or other new projects.

Si finished by saying, “I’m delighted to have been elected as the new Chairman of Bradford Civic Society and I pledge to make our group one of the most celebratory and forward-thinking civic societies in the UK.

Civic volunteers from across England will get a chance to hear from Simon Cunningham when the Yorkshire civic societies meet in September for a visit to Bradford.

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Birmingham Civic Society welcomes Civic Voice to the Coffin Works, Birmingham

Photograph: Gavin Orton, Chairman of Birmingham Civic Society

Gavin Orton, Chairman of Birmingham Civic Society

Gavin Orton, Chair of Birmingham Civic Society, this week welcomed the news that Civic Voice is to make Birmingham its new Head Office.

"It's fantastic news that Civic Voice have recently set up a new base in Birmingham - we're really pleased to welcome the Civic Voice team to the city. We're looking forward to supporting and working closely with the Civic Voice team on local and national issues. Birmingham is not only well positioned as a base for going out and connecting with the rest of the UK but also for bringing together civic societies and associated groups/organisations from around the country."

Following the end of our lease in Liverpool, we are now based in in the Coffin Works, which is a "heritage hub" for the Midlands. Organisations including Heritage Trust Network, Birmingham Conversation Trust and the Architectural Heritage Fund are all based here. We see this as an excellent opportunity in the next stage of Civic Voice's story.

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

The Coffin Works is a historic Jewellery Quarter factory which has been brought back to life by Birmingham Conservation Trust. The Newman Brothers' factory, a statutorily listed building situated within the Jewellery Quarter Conservation Area, once produced some of the world’s finest coffin furniture, including the fittings for the funerals of Joseph Chamberlain, Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother. Now a busy museum, with the original machinery working again, visitors can once again, experience how this old Jewellery Quarter firm operated on day-to-day.

To celebrate us moving to the Coffin Works, we are holding an open day on National Civic Day (17th June) for Civic Voice members and guests for tours at 11, 1pm and 3pm. The Coffin Works is also open for Heritage Open Days in September. This will be an excellent opportunity for people to walk around the new workplace and take in this wonderful building.

If you are interested in attending this event, please contact us at

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The Coventry Society celebrates 50 years of conservation areas for Civic Day

Poster advertising Civic Day in Coventry

Civic Day in Coventry celebrating conservation areas.

Please join the Coventry Society on Saturday 17th June 2017 from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. to celebrate Civic Voice's national promotion of Civic Pride, "Civic Day". This year Coventry will be focusing on the 50th Anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act 1967, which established the concept of Conservation Areas. Their event is based at the Civic Voice Design Award 2016 winner, The Old Grammar School, located in the Lady Herbert’s Garden and the Burges Conservation Area, which was recently extended to include additional parts of the Burges. The society will be spotlighting the regeneration plans for the Burges as well as the “daylighting” of the River Sherbourne.

Lots of fun and educational activities for all the family throughout the day including:

This year, the event is part of Coventry’s Positive Images Festival as well as the Year of the Sherbourne and the Coventry Society will be using it to promote Coventry’s bid to be City of Culture 2021.

Thanks to partners for assistance and contribution, including Culture Coventry, the City Council, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, and to the Institue of Historic Building Conservation for making a financial contribution to the project.

Read more here.

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Southgate District Civic Trust announces its event programme for Southgate Civic Week

Poster advertising Civic Week in Southgate

Southgate Civic Trust celebrating Civic Day

Litter picks, theatre shows, cricket matches, guided walks, conservation areas and Transport for London..... what combines all this together? It is all part of Southgate Civic Week!

During Civic Week, Southgate Civic Trust will be based at 6 Station Parade, Southgate Underground Station; a vacant shop unit made available for Civic Week by Transport for London. The shop forms part of the complex of listed buildings forming Southgate Station and the hub of Southgate Circus Conservation Area.

The first Civic Week event will be the prize giving for the Southgate Photographic competition, in the station shop. The final event will be the commemoration of Operation Squabble – more information to follow. This will be part of Evensong in Christ Church Southgate from 6.30pm on Sunday 18th June.

Although the co-ordinating work is done by Southgate Civic Trust, what really makes this event happen is the fantastic effort of volunteers across Southgate and nearby areas. These people give guided tours, put on exhibitions, arrange street parties, organise competitions and help visitors understand the area they live in just a little bit more.

Southgate Civic Trust won a national Civic Day award last year and this year, will put on over 30 events to celebrate where they live. Will they be winning again in Wakefield at the Civic Voice Annual Convention 2017?

Read more about Southgate Civic Trust's Civic Day event here.

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Big Conservation Conversation joint exhibition focusing on Spalding’s conservation area

Photograph: Church in Spalding

A joint exhibition focusing on key buildings in Spalding’s conservation area will be hosted at eight venues in Spalding from 31st May to mid-September 2017 after Spalding Civic Society and Spalding Photographic Society joined forces as part of the Big Conservation Conversation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act, which gave councils legal powers to safeguard the best parts of towns and villages.

The civic society says the act arrived in the nick of time to stop a county highways plan to “smash a wide new road through the middle of town”, a project that was replaced by the A16 bypass.

Civic society chairman David Jones said without the Civic Amenities Act “much of what you see in Spalding could so easily have been lost.”

A selection of prints will be on display by members of the photographic society featuring various aspects of the conservation area, some of which will be familiar and others less so.

The exhibition is hosted for a fortnight by the following, with start dates in brackets: Calthrop’s (May 31), Red Lion Quarter (June 13), Hill’s Department Store (June 27), Bookmark (July 11), Spalding Library (July 25), St Mary and St Nicolas Church (August 8), Ayscoughfee Museum (August 23) and Broad Street Methodist Church (September 5).

More information here.

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Heart of Wakefield Project - Free guided walks around Wood Street Conservation Area, Wakefield

Picture: Selection of Wakefield Project partners

The Heart of Wakefield Project partners

In association with Wakefield Council, Wakefield Historical Society and Leeds Beckett University, Wakefield Civic Society has formed a partnership to research the story of Wood Street, in the city centre.

The Heart of Wakefield Project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and aims to uncover the stories of the people who lived or worked on the historic street and to research the history of the street itself and the buildings along it.

Wood Street is home to many historic buildings including Wakefield Town Hall, the former Wakefield Magistrates' Court and the former Police Station. The project is aiming to find out more about the street's beginnings, how it developed and what happened there. Volunteers from Wakefield Civic Society, Wakefield Historical Society and the public at large have been busy researching facts and discovering some fascinating stories. This research will be published by the Historical Society in due course.

On 17th June, Wakefield Civic Society will be delivering two talks and guided walks to explore the conservation area around Wood Street and will be giving away free copies of our books to anyone taking part in the walks. The new book - Wood Street: The Heart of Wakefield, by Kevin Trickett will tell the history of the street and its buildings. It will sell for £3.50.

Read more here.

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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.

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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

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Bath Preservation Trust launches new free guidance for owners of listed buildings in Bath: ‘Making Changes'

Bath Preservation Trust has launched a new publication giving guidance on how to make changes to listed buildings in Bath. Endorsed by Historic England and Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Historic Environment team, the Bath-specific publication aims to assist householders who are thinking about changing or adapting their listed building and want guidance on best practice and how to go about getting the relevant permissions.

Authored by the Trust’s Conservation Officer, Joanna Robinson, the easy-to-read guide has two main sections, one looking at an overview of listed buildings and how to approach making changes, and the second looking in detail at individual house features such as paintwork, ironwork, roofs, windows etc. There is also a ‘jargon-busting’ glossary to assist in the understanding the planning system.

Trust Chief Executive, Caroline Kay, said:

“Bath is a very special place and Bath’s 5000 listed properties need specific advice. We are delighted to be able to provide this and are grateful to Historic England and the World Heritage Site Enhancement Fund for supporting the publication of this guidance. The Trust will also continue to give free advice to individual householders by ‘phone or email when we can, so this supplements rather than substitutes for our continuing service to the people of Bath”.

Copies will be given through estate agents, lawyers and architects’ firms to new purchasers of listed buildings in Bath or those intending to make changes to their buildings.

A PDF of the publication can be downloaded (free) here

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Phone Kiosks – Or advertising kiosks? Possible campaign idea for civic movement groups across England

Photograph: Examples of proliferation of phone kiosks in Leeds. Photo credit: Leeds Civic Trust.

Examples of proliferation of phone kiosks in Leeds. Photo credit: Leeds Civic Trust.

Article by Martin Hamilton, Leeds Civic Trust

Can you remember the last time you used a phone box? How many times have you used one in the last year? I thought so! With almost everyone owning a mobile phone, telephone boxes are fast becoming an anachronism. And yet in Leeds, we have just received 36 applications for new phone boxes in city centre locations; this isn’t the first batch to come forward in recent months and it certainly won’t be the last. This is because their primary purpose is no longer to make telephone calls, but to advertise goods and services.

Rules mean that telephone kiosks can be installed with minimal planning oversight – they are covered by permitted development rights, as is the advertising they bear (which is theoretically a temporary consent, but often becomes permanent). This means that local authorities have few powers to stop the march of the phone box. Reasons for refusal may include harm to a conservation area or the setting of a listed building or impeding pedestrian flow, but controlling street clutter is not a reason to refuse. This means that where Councils take a stand and refuse these advertising boxes, cases are often won by the applicant on appeal.

Aside from the issue of street clutter, these boxes frequently fall into a state of disrepair and are often badly designed. And of course they are not used – they may be a haven for spiders (judging by the spiders webs you often find in them!), but have little human use for months on end.

It seems to us in Leeds that the law needs to be changed to give local authorities the power to control the spread of these boxes (which are typically owned by the big advertising companies – a clue if one was needed as to their true purpose) and in so doing, give some power back to local communities.

We would be interested to hear if others have had similar experiences, and whether you would be interested in raising this at a national level. Please get in touch with me here at Leeds Civic Trust.

Martin Hamilton

Director, Leeds Civic Trust

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Marple Civic Society records all local First World War memorials

Photograph: Marple Civic Society volunteers at a war memorial workshop

Marple Civic Society volunteers at a war memorial workshop

Marple’s war memorials project began with a workshop held by Civic Voice in November 2016. Marple Civic Society helped to bring together an enthusiastic crowd of its own members, as well as people from all denominations of churches in Marple and Marple Bridge, and members of other local societies including Marple Historical Society, Hawk Green Residents’ Association and Friends of Memorial Park, Marple.

It was in the town’s War Memorial Park that the survey and workshop took place. Gathered around the stone statue mounted on a granite plinth, the group learned how to examine the various parts of the memorial for signs of weathering or decay, where pointing or repair might be needed, or where cleaning would reveal inscriptions obscured by surface dirt, and whether the memorial had an appearance of care or neglect. The survey forms provided at the workshop gave us a standard list of features to note, including the type of design of the memorial, its setting, whether it was free standing or inside a building, materials were used for its construction, and what inscription was displayed on it including the names of those who lost their lives in the First World War, and in later conflicts. The workshop finally showed volunteers the best way of taking photographs of the memorials we discovered, and how to upload these on to the War Memorials Online website.

Read the full case study here.

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Photograph: Group of conservationists

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Photograph: Group holding 'save our memorials' banner

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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 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 with your request.