Civic Update

26 January 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.


In the third edition of civic update for 2018, we announce further speakers for the Civic Voice Annual convention. We are delighted that the President of the Royal Institution of British Architects, Ben Derbyshire will join us in Birmingham on 19/20 October. We are delighted to also confirm that Tony Barton, Chair of Donald Insall Associates, and Sarah Mcleod, CEO of Wentworth Woodhouse will also be joining us in Birmingham, as we celebrate 100 years of the civic movement as part of Birmingham Civic Society's centenary.

The latest speakers join Griff Rhys Jones, Dame Fiona Reynolds, Ros Kerslake (CEO, Heritage Lottery Fund) Sir Terry Farrell, Deborah Lamb (Deputy CEO of Historic England) and Laura Sandys in being confirmed speakers during 19/20 October. View more information here.

Key dates coming up for the civic movement include:


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

Photograph: Ben Derbyshire Photograph: Sarah Mcleod Tony Barton

Top row: RIBA President, Ben Derbyshire Bottom row: Sarah Mcleod & Tony Barton

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 are delighted that the second set of speakers we are announcing are:

More speakers will be shared in Civic Update throughout January.

The dates you need are 19/20 October. More information here.

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Blue Plaques to notable citizens, enhancing information about our Archive in the Library of Birmingham, increasing the historical content on our website, and delivering a whole range of tours, talks, and family activities throughout 2018.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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Laura Sandys, Civic Voice Vice-president says "Help us test a new Conservation Area Audit Tool"

Photograph: Laura Sandys

Laura Sandys, Civic Voice Vice-president this week communicated with civic societies across England asking for your help. We have developed a new tool with representatives of the civic movement to respond to feedback from members who want to take more action in conservation areas. We now want some community groups and conservation officers to help us road test the audit and feedback to us independently. 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.

If you want to help us with this, get in touch at and we can fill you in with more information!

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!

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Ian Harvey speaks at event London event discussing the future of conservation areas

Photograph: Ian Harvey

Civic Voice's joining a panel in London this week to discuss the future of Peckham's conservation areas. In a heated debate, the panel discussed the pressures facing conservation areas and the challenge to balance new housing without being insensitive to the historic environment. Speakers for the evening included:

  • Simon Bevan, Director of Housing, Southwark Council
  • Ian Harvey, Executive Director of Civic Voice
  • Claire Hegarty, Chair of Peckham Heritage Regeneration Partnership.

Ian Harvey said "This meeting was a good opportunity to explore a range of questions including What are Conservation Areas? How do they protect our historic built environments? What does positive and negative change look and feel like? and my personal favourite "what is exception design!"

50 individuals from a mix of community groups and civic societies including members of Civic Voice.

Ian added "One question I was surprised to be asked a member of the audience was whether there was any point in objecting to planning applications and getting involved in your local area or is it entirely irrelevant? I made it clear, taking actions starts from our own front door and we cannot simply rely or expect the local authority to do it all. We have to get involved."

If you have any local discussions or debates coming forward that you would like Civic Voice representatives to attend, please do let us know and and we can always send a Civic Voice speaker. Get in touch at

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The March Society Buildings of Concern in March Cambridgeshire January 2018

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The March Society recently organised a guided walk around the local Town Centre Conservation Area. They were joined on the walk by staff representing the local MP who were eager to hear about local issues from the community.

The walk was led by Jennifer Lawler, the Chairman, who pointed out buildings of interest and ones about which the March Society had concerns, and what measures the Society had taken to make Fenland Council and its Conservation Officers aware.

As expected they had concerns about upkeep of properties and in particular gardens belonging to listed properties within the conservation area which were neglected and overgrown or used to store building materials. It was noted that owners of some properties would like to better maintain them but are unable to meet the costs.

Interested in what The March Society are doing? You can watch the latest video from them here highlighting the buildings at risk in March. Watch the video here.

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What will you do for National Civic Day? Whitby Civic Society share some thoughts.

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.

Whitby Civic Society wish to commemorate Civic Day by exhibiting the work carried out to log, survey and register all the War Memorials in Whitby Parish, particularly as 2018 is 100 years since the end of the First World War. The exhibition will use storyboards to tell the story of all war memorials, the need to conserve them, as well as involving local groups in bringing some of the stories to life via playlets and song. They will also be launching a self-guided walk leaflet of all Whitby's war memorials.

This event will also be used to promote Whitby Conservation areas and the Whitby Civic Society’s new guide for Businesses to develop new or refurbished “Shop fronts”, including the award by the Town Mayor of Certificates of Excellence to deserving businesses in the Town for 2018. A lot going on in Whitby for National Civic Day.

If you want to share what you are doing for National Civic Day 2018 on June 16, let us know here.

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Get Involved!

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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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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.