Civic Update

28 July 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.


New Charity Governance Code – what are the implications for civic societies?

Coloured placard saying: Charity Governance Code

Last year, the Charity Commission consulted on a proposed code of governance. This has now been published and is available on-line here.

While the new Code is at the moment just guidance, it is based on current legal requirements and recommended practice. It is set out under 7 principles and introduces the notion of ‘apply or explain’ – in other words, charities should apply the code’s principles wherever they can and explain those instances where, for whatever reason, a charity cannot apply the recommendations of the Code.

Much that is in the Code will be familiar already, this is evolution not revolution, but there are some interesting new recommendations about recruitment and retention of trustees – i.e., your committee members – which will have far-reaching implications for many societies. Not least of these is the recommendation that trustees serve for a maximum of 9 years.

Kevin Trickett, Chair of the Yorkshire Association of Civic Societies shares his thought on the new Charity Governance code here.

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Become a Trustee of Civic Voice

Photograph: Joan Humble Chairwoman of Civic Voice

Joan Humble Chairwoman of Civic Voice

It is very timely about the introduction of a new Code of Conduct as Civic Voice is now openly recruiting for three vacancies on our Board of Trustees, to take up position from October 2017.

Joan Humble, Paul Bedwell and Roger Sutton are all up for election with their terms of office coming to an end. They are each allowed to stand for election for a second term.

If you want to get involved and help shape the future of Civic Voice and the wider civic movement then why not put yourself forward? This is a real chance to shape the direction and priorities of the civic movement.

The deadline for applications is 11th August and there will be a ballot of all fully paid up members during September. Only fully paid up civic societies can participate in the vote.

You can find further details about the role of trustees along with an application form here. You can find the list of current trustees here.

For an informal chat about becoming a Civic Voice trustee, contact Ian Harvey via

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Paul Bedwell to speak at Yorkshire gathering in Hornsea

Photograph: Paul Bedwell, Sheffield Civic Trust

Paul Bedwell, Sheffield Civic Trust

Paul Bedwell, Civic Voice trustee will be speaking at the next Yorkshire regional gathering taking place in Hornsea on Saturday 29th July in association with Hornsea Civic Society. As usual, the local civic society will be arranging a meal for the Friday evening, 28th July, and guided walks on the Saturday morning for anyone wishing to spend more time in the town.

YHACS recently organised a ‘Futures’ workshop in Wakefield and are proposing to spend some time at the Hornsea event discussing the future of the movement – what steps can we take, for example, to recruit and retain members and so on, to ensure that our civic societies are sustainable and have a secure future. We are sure they’d be particularly interested to hear from any of Civic Voice member societies across England who can provide examples of recruiting members. We were particularly pleased that York Civic Trust managed to recruit 60 new members at a recent event! Read more here.

After Hornsea, the next Yorkshire gathering will be heading to Bradford to give people a change to visit Sunbridge Wells, Bradford recently Highly Commended in the Civic Voice Design Awards. Nominated by Civic Voice member, Bradford Civic Society, the judges said: "We just loved this bold project for its imaginative restoration of a derelict heritage asset, ambitious conservation effort and its positive economic regenerative effect. A beacon of hope for Bradford."

For more information on this event get in touch with Kevin Trickett here.

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Bradford Civic Society launches new website

Picture: Partial shot of new home webpage

Bradford Civic Society has unveiled a new visual identity as it seeks to increase its membership.

The website is available here.

The new branding was introduced across Bradford Civic Society’s social media platforms earlier this year, but has now been rolled out across a new-look website which relaunched in July. The refreshed site is simpler, more user-friendly, and will allow members to join the society online for the first time. Other new features include online event registration, and an improved news section – which will feature regular content for people craving information about Bradford’s heritage and future development. Bradford Civic Society’s new website will also offer a platform for guest contributors to share their views about how the city develops.

Si Cunningham, Bradford Civic Society Chairman, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the interest we’ve had in the civic society over the last few months, but have also acknowledged that we needed to improve our look and get our house in order if we wanted to attract new members from different backgrounds.”

“Our new identity is great, but it’s just a small part of our ambition for the future. We’ve already started hosting more events in more diverse places, and the last meeting was so well attended that we’ll need a bigger venue next time. Having a smart website and proper social media platforms also allows us to keep the discussions and debates constantly open – making us the proper eyes and ears of the city.”

Read more here.

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Changing planning practice in English Conservation Areas

Photograph: Warwick Hall Community Centre, Burford winner of a Civic Voice Special Conservation Area Award

Warwick Hall Community Centre, Burford winner of a Civic Voice Special Conservation Area Award.

Leo Hall, a postgraduate planning student at Sheffield University supervised by Peter Bibby, has been undertaking a review of evolving planning practice in English conservation areas, focused primarily on the impact of post-2010 policy changes and on understanding the principal areas of current tension.To support this work he has constructed a short online survey, which has been circulated to a large number of Local Planning Authorities with significant heritage assets and has so far received responses covering a good proportion of English conservation areas. However, in addition to the Local Planning Authority perspective, Leo is also keen to canvass opinion from community groups, civic societies and others with heritage interests, to understand whether there is any material difference in perceptions.

Leo has asked us to circulate a link to his survey, to give anyone with an interest in this topic a chance to represent the views of their local organisation. The survey combines a number of short 'rating' style questions with the opportunity to add perspective on salient issues and potential case studies based on your own experience. It is designed for organisations focused on a specific geographic area, but can also be answered from a broader perspective if desired, omitting locally specific questions. Leo stresses that the survey is very quick to complete, and would like to encourage as many people as possible with views on this topic to take part.

The survey can be found here and responses would be welcomed as soon as possible, as the survey closed to Local Planning Authorities on 28th July. Please feel free to forward these details to others who you feel may be interested.

If anyone has any other comments or suggestions for Leo, he can also be contacted direct via

Laura Sandys, Vice-President of Civic Voice said “Today there are approximately 10,000 Conservation Areas across the UK. Conservation Areas are as much a part of the fabric of this country as the Green Belt is in shaping our cities, towns and villages. I recommend people responding to this survey and adding their own local knowledge to the national picture".

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Joan Humble speaking up for conservation areas

Photograph: Joan Humble with delegates at the RIBA Conservation Course

Joan Humble with delegates at the RIBA Conservation Course

Chairwoman of Civic Voice Joan Humble recently delivered a talk as part of the Big Conservation Conversation to a group of architects. It was an Advanced Conservation Course for architects and trainee technicians registered with the Royal Institute of British Architects who had presentations from a variety of specialists on various conservation issues. Joan was guest speaker on the second day and spoke about how Civic Voice was celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Conservation Areas.

Joan emphasised the importance of community engagements and the work of local civic groups. She asked how many members of the group were members of a local civic society. Two attendees responded and confirmed that they where members of Leeds Civic Trust and York Civic Trust. Joan urged everyone else to join their local civic society to help them use their skills and experience in a voluntary capacity.

Joan is also speaking at a conference in the town of Stamford, Lincolnshire. Stamford was was the first to be designated as a Conservation Area and, in recognition of this, South Kesteven District Council is marking the the event with a one-day conference on Thursday 21 September 2017 in the Arts Centre in Stamford. The event is being is supported by the Royal Institute of British Architects, Historic England, the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Institute of Historic Building Conservation and Civic Voice.

The day will bring together a range of speakers who represent different professions and stakeholders whose life or work is influenced by the existence of Conservation Areas. The speakers will draw out what lessons have been learnt over the last 50 years and how the application of legislation has affected the way our environments have grown.

The programme for the day is available here.

Joan will also be speaking at a number of other events throughout the year. She has kindly accepted an invitation from Conservation Areas Wirral to speak at a conference to celebrate 50 years of Conservation Areas. She will speaking at the event on Friday, 10 November after 6.30 pm.

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Civic Voice team say join us to say "I care about where I live"

Photograph: Joan Humble and others

Civic societies are at the heart of Civic Voice. It is your organisation. You will decide our priorities and benefit from our campaigns. We will help on the issues that matter to you. The majority of our trustees are elected by civic societies. Civic societies across the country are joining Civic Voice and building a new future for the civic movement. Be one of them.

By joining Civic Voice you are part a national civic movement, giving you a national voice.

Join Civic Voice today here.

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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

Join the movement!


Stamford Civic Society to explain why and how Stamford became the first conservation area

Photograph: Stamford Conservation Area designated in 1967

Stamford Conservation Area designated in 1967

In 1967 Stamford became the country’s first Conservation Area. Why and how did this happen and why was it so important then?

As part of the Stamford 50 local celebrations Stamford Civic Society is holding an exhibition which aims to answer these questions and looks at why conservation is still important today.

The exhibition will be held at Stamford Arts Centre, 20 – 28 September.

The exhibition will illustrate Stamford’s wonderful architectural heritage and highlight the role of national and local people in tackling the threats to historic environments, prevalent in the 1960s, of rapid development and heavy traffic. Memories of local people of the town before the Conservation Area came into being will be displayed.

Stamford needs to pay thanks to Lord Duncan Sandys, Chairman of Civic Trust and MP, who steered a Private Members’ Bill through Parliament. The Bill became law when the Civic Amenities Act was granted Royal Assent on 27 July 1967 and introduced the concept of Conservation Areas.

Read more here.

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Mitcham War Memorial listed as Grade II by Historic England after campign by Civic Voice member

Photograph: Mitcham war memorial

Civic Voice member, Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage proposed the listing of Mitcham War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday last year and have secured a Grade II listing for this important memorial at the heart of the Mitcham community.

The volunteer research behind the nomination has now been accepted on the official record.

The war memorial has been listed on three grounds:

•As an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this local community, and the sacrifice it has made in the conflicts of the C20.

•As an elegant wheel-head cross memorial with well-executed carved details and sculpted bronze swords.

•For its relationship with the Grade II-listed Mitcham Parish Rooms.

Tony Burton, trustee of Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage said: "We're proud to have played our part in securing national recognition for this monument to the contribution Mitcham's community made in the two World Wars. It stands as witness to the impact of conflict on Mitcham and we're delighted to see the war memorial recognised and protected for the future."

Read more here.

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Alnwick Civic Society land £6000 for publication to celebrate conservation area

Picture: Attractive ruined buildings

Alnwick Civic Society, in partnership with the town’s Museum, has landed £6,600 for a special publishing project. The project focuses on detailing the contributions made over the years by local people and organisations to the conservation and interpretation of the Ducal town of Alnwick’s architectural and townscape heritage.

As 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the creation of conservation areas in the UK, the booklet will commemorate this by showcasing the many heritage treasures of Alnwick’s own conservation area through the ages. Thanks to the grant aid and the project’s other two funders – Institute of Historic Building Conservation with Civic Voice and legacy funding from the North East Forum of Civic Societies – 2,000 copies will be made available at no cost for local groups, schools, residents and visitors.

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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.