Photograph: Line up of people



Civic Update

27 October 2017

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.


This week, the civic movement gathered in Wakefield for the biggest gathering of civic volunteers in the country. For 4 days, civic volunteers from Alnwick to Dover converged on Wakefield to discuss the future of conservation areas. Together we came together to say "My Conservation Area Matters" as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act.

Civic volunteers heard from keynote speakers including Laura Sandys (Civic Voice Vice-president) and Trevor Mitchell (Regional Director, Historic England) and participated in workshops ranging from "a review of the National Planning Policy Framework" through to discussing "What is the future for conservation areas?"

Joan Humble, Chair of Civic Voice said: "We know that local authorities are stretched so, working with the APPG for Civic Societies, we will be writing to the Secretary of State for DCMS highlighting the concerns from our members. It was great to hear that civic societies are meeting MPs and councillors to press the case for increased investment in conservation areas".

Kevin Trickett, President of Wakefield Civic Society said: "My committee members and I very much enjoyed co-hosting the Civic Voice Convention and showing off both the city and the work of Wakefield Civic Society to civic society delegates from across the country. It was great fun but hard work. We are very pleased with the way the whole Convention worked out - even the weather was kind to us when it needed to be - and we know from the feedback we have received that delegates enjoyed themselves too. For some, it was their first visit to Wakefield - and I know they went away impressed with what the city has to offer. I'm sure that many will come back in due course to explore further".


Speakers say, "We need YOU to shape the future of conservation areas!"

Photograph: Laura Sandys Photograph: Trevor Mitchell Photograph: David White

Laura Sandys (Vice-president, Civic Voice), Trevor Mitchell (Historic England) and David White (The Deal Society)

Civic societies from Alnwick, Bristol, Chester, Deal, Hereford and Worcester were just some of the groups who headed to Wakefield last weekend for the Civic Voice Annual Convention.

What were they all heading to Wakefield for? They wanted to discuss, debate and decide how conservation areas can be better managed and enhanced for the next 50 years.

The weekend brought together a range of speakers who represented different backgrounds and professions, from national policy makers to community groups, who have each helped inspire change in their local Conservation Area.

Workshops, walks, talks and speakers highlighted specific lessons and showed a common theme: local engagement and local civic action. With over 20 workshops and 160 volunteers over the 4 days, it was the biggest Civic Voice convention yet.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * *

Civic Societies participate in workshops and consider how conservation cuts are impacting on their area

Photograph: Civic group undertaking a 'Placecheck' Photograph: Lecturer Photograph: Lecture theatre

Civic societies undertaking a "Placecheck", learning about Heritage Open Days and participating in a workshop on Community Led Conservation Appraisals

As part of the Civic Voice convention, over 20 workshops were held to give communities the chance to consider how they could play a greater role in local heritage management.

One of the workshops was delivered by Rob Cowan from Urban Design Skills on the now well-known assessment tool, Placecheck. It is a simple and quick way of finding out what a place is like and what people think about it. It is an excellent method to start 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.

Volunteers from groups including: The City of Winchester Trust, The Deal Society and The Hunstanton Civic Society all joined Rob Cowan for a "Placecheck" around the Lower Westgate Conservation Area.

It was agreed that the Placecheck web app worked well on walkabouts when some participants used it on their mobile phones or tablets to record views of likes, dislikes and things to work on, while others just looked and discussed. Learn more about Placecheck here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * *

Civic Voice speakers set out the agenda and priorities for 2018r

Photograph: Ian Harvey speaking from lectern Photograph: Helen Kidman speaking from lectern Photograph: Photograph: Joan Humble speaking from lectern

Ian Harvey (Executive Director, Civic Voice) Helen Kidman (Chairwoman of Regional Forum) and Joan Humble (Chairwoman of Civic Voice)

The theme of the weekend was to consider the future of conservation areas, with each Civic Voice speaker making reference to future plans for the organisation and the wider movement.

Joan Humble, Chairwoman of Civic Voice explained that this is just the start for the civic movement's Big Conversation Conversation campaign and that Civic Day 2018 will again have a focus on celebrating the positive impact of conservation areas in England. Joan also focused on the work of the membership committee and explained that Civic Voice will be working hard to make membership essential for everyone who cares about where they live. She said that Civic Voice had reviewed membership benefits and clarified that only civic societies who are members of Civic Voice are entitled to:-

• Priority notification about Civic Voice All Party Parliamentary Group meetings
• Regular round table meetings with the Chair and other members of the APPG
• Civic update
• Contributing to a review of our current Insurance Policy to ensure we deliver an even better insurance policy for civic societies
• Contributing thoughts and ideas to an update of Civic Voice's manifesto
• She also explained that we are working hard to increase individual benefits for individuals in civic societies so that civic societies can offer real tangible benefits to their own members

Joan also explained that no individual whose civic society is not a member of Civic Voice will be allowed to sit on any CV committee or forum going forward.

Ian Harvey, Executive Director said that Civic Voice will work to ensure communities are at the heart of the national debate on the future of conservation areas. Ian highlighted the campaigning work of Birmingham Civic Society and The Deal Society (and many others) as well as discussing new types of models of working that may be required to help ensure that we continue to protect, preserve and enhance conservation areas. Ian also covered highlights from Civic Survey 2017 and encouraged groups to keep responding.

Helen Kidman (Chairwoman of Regional Forum) asked the audience to consider what they can do in their own areas to make the case for conservation areas and to share examples with her and the regional forum of the impact of cuts to local government. She explained that she is hosting a meeting in December to further discuss the loss of conservation staff. Helen encouraged everyone to share thoughts on the future of conservation areas with Civic Voice via our latest survey here. She explained that the results will be shared with Historic England and the APPG for Civic Societies.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * *

Hannah Seager, Altrincham wins the first ever "Marsh Young Civic Volunteer of the Year Award"

Photograph: Hannah Seager receiving award from Joan Humble

The Marsh Civic Awards are an annual award to recognise an "outstanding contribution to the civic movement" by an individual and a group. The awards are supported by the Marsh Christian Trust and this year, we introduced a new award to recognise the outstanding contribution made by a younger person to the civic movement. Hannah Seager from Altrincham was the first winner of the award!

Conservation Areas make a major contribution to protecting our Heritage for future generations. To tell the local story on Conservation Areas in Altrincham it was important to show as many of their fine buildings and the nine areas as possible. As video is now a very common media, particularly with younger people, the society started talks with the local College about creating a video to tell the story about why Conservation Areas are vital.

An extremely able first year student, Hannah Seager, volunteered for the project. From just an outline storyboard she produced what Altrincham and Bowdon Civic Society thought was a wow! video. Hannah worked within an impossibly tight time deadline, whilst also completing her normal college assignments, which were a necessary part of her course on film and TV at Trafford College. She kept the video short so as hold the attention of the viewer and maintained a moderate pace to the story. Screen captions got extra impact to the main messages of why conservation areas are important. She made sure the history and reasons for conservation was explained in an understandable way.

On Civic Day 2017 Hannah’s video had centre stage on Altrincham's town centre stall, playing continuously. The video has helped to start many conversations on how Altrincham can protect its conservation areas.

View the video here.

Civic Voice logo

Click on logo to return to Contents list

* * * * * * * * *

Birmingham: The Civic Movement is heading for you in 2018

Photograph: Gavin Orton and Kevin Trickett

Gavin Orton, (Birmingham Civic Society) and Kevin Trickett (Wakefield Civic Society)

Next year's Civic Voice Convention and AGM will be heading to the heart of the country, Birmingham!

As Civic Voice is now based in Birmingham, we snapped off the hands of Birmingham Civic Society who said they would like to host this the 2018 convention as part of their own centenary programme.

For almost 100 years, Birmingham Civic Society has worked to make Birmingham a better place for everyone. They are a membership body made up from a wide range of volunteers who encourage community engagement and promote pride in Birmingham.

Birmingham's work involves many activities some of which include:

•Improving green spaces through delivering the Birmingham Trees for Life scheme
•Inspiring the minds of young people through the Next Generation Awards
•Promoting and improving the built environment, architecture and public art of Birmingham
•Celebrating the heritage of Birmingham by coordinating one of the biggest installing Blue Plaques schemes in the country

Birmingham Civic Society is renowned across the civic movement as Civic Voice Vice President, Freddie Gick was a previous Chair and under Gavin Orton (a new Civic Voice trustee) the society is increasingly becoming a key voice across Birmingham.

Birmingham, get ready... the civic movement is coming!

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

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.