Civic Update

8 September 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 Bristol made national news when builders ripped down a 400-year-old ceiling just 24 hours before it was set to be legally protected by Historic England. The rare and beautiful Jacobean ceiling in a former restaurant in Bristol was deliberately destroyed by a developer to prevent the building being listed. Many people were rightly outraged, but under current legislation the developer was legally entitled to destroy this 400 year old treasure. Unfortunately, this act of vandalism is far from unique because the building is not yet listed. Historic England has confirmed they were about to inspect it with a view to granting the building listed status.

Simon Birch, chair of Bristol Civic Society, said: “Developers have done nothing illegal here. But it’s deplorable that such a historic building has had its interior ripped out. It’s very sad that the protection wasn’t in place. I find it amazing that developers do this, because you’d think it would enhance the value of the building itself.”

Ian Harvey, Executive Director of Civic Voice said "We strongly encourage Bristol City Council and Historic England to pursue all available means to have it reconstructed and to reprimand those responsible"

In response to this news, a petition has been set up on petition website to "Give automatic interim protection to buildings proposed for listing" We call on all civic societies across England to sign this petition here.


Civic societies celebrate 50 years of conservation areas for Heritage Open Days

Logo: Heritage Open Days

This weekend some 40,000 volunteers across England organise 5,000 events to celebrate our fantastic history and culture. It's your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – all of which are FREE to explore. We believe that that Sheffield Civic Trust could be the civic society with the most event with a staggering 116 events. Do you know a society organising more?

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of the act which led to Conservation Areas being established across the UK. Civic Voice is asking that communities to join together, as part of a Big Conservation Conversation, to recognise how conservation areas have helped keep many of our towns distinctive and to say that “My Conservation Area Matters”.

In particular we have asked local Civic Societies to arrange events to increase awareness of Conservation Areas. Many civic societies and community groups have joined that call to action.

1.Chatteris Civic Society - Conservation Officer Talk “Heritage Significance and Values”: To celebrate the National Heritage Open Days Weekend, the Chatteris Civic Society - (Chatteris Past Present and Future) invites you to hear Conservation Officer for Fenland District Council, Nicola Duncan Finn, speaking about Heritage Significance and Values.

2.Goole Civic Society will also be celebrating 50 years of Conservation Areas with the launch of a new Conservation Area leaflet, available free from the society's stand in the shopping precinct.

3.Cockermouth Civic Trust have been participating in the national celebration of the 50th anniversary of Conservation Areas. A key activity has been to produce a booklet describing our conservation areas and property owner responsibilities. These will be distributed to all owners/occupiers of buildings within these areas. An exhibition will inform on the general purpose and requirements of Conservation Areas and on the specific features of the local Cockermouth & Papcastle Conservation areas.

4.Organised by Reading Civic Society to celebrate Conservation Areas as part of Heritage Open Weekend, a guided walk of the St Mary's/ Castle Street Conservation area and also just "over the border"

5.Shrewsbury Civic Society will have an exhibition celebrating 50 years of Conservation work in Shrewsbury including an exhibition and and walking tours

Do remember to send in your pictures from your local visits and we will include them in next week's civic update.

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Laura Sandys confirmed to speak at the Civic Voice Annual Convention in Wakefield on 20/21 October

Laura Sandys speaking from lectern

Reading, listening and participating are all great things to do, but by coming to Wakefield, you will experience “Civic Voice”. It is a different level of engagement. The Civic Voice Annual Convention is the best Civic Voice event of the year and we know it will help you and your civic society yield extraordinary results. We think it is an event that every committee member for a community group across England should consider.

We think at £50 to attend (and £45 for additional individuals from the same civic society) is worth at least considering it!

What will you get for that? Two days focused on building your membership and raising awareness of conservation areas including:

• Laura Sandys, Civic Voice Vice-president is confirmed to speak on the 50th anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act 1967 along with
• Trevor Mitchell, Regional Director of Historic England

You will get to hear from a plethora of industry experts over the two days:

• Colin Davis, industry expert on the public realm
• Rob Cowan, industry expert and author of the London Design Guide on urban design
• Sophia de Sousa, industry expert on community engagement
• Rob Lloyd Sweet, expert on local heritage listing
• John Penrose, industry expert on conservation areas

It is the event for you to attend if you are in a civic society.

Nowhere else and no other conference in this country would bring such a unique network of individuals together for you. These experts are doing it because of the relationship they have with Civic Voice.

You will also get to hear from other civic societies who will be sharing experiences of:

• Gavin Orton, Birmingham Civic Society on Birmingham’s work with local school
• David White, coordinator of The Deal Society work on conservation appraisals
• Leeds Civic Trust on how they are growing corporate membership
• Paul Cartwright on how Pontefract Civic Society have used the Civic Society Assessment Tool
• Jane Maggs on the success Southgate Civic Trust have had for National Civic Day
• Kevin Trickett on the modernisation of Wakefield Civic Society

To repeat: We think at £50 to attend (and £45 for additional individuals from the same civic society) is worth at least considering it!

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Civic Voice team ask "Are you using all your benefits?"

Photograph: Civic Voice team

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. Some benefits include:

1. Giving you a voice on national matters: All Party Parliamentary Group - The APPG for Civic Societies was established to represent the civic society movement in Parliament and help make the movement’s voice heard. Only Civic Voice members will be added to Civic Voice's invite list for APPG meetings in 2017-2018.
2. Giving you benefits to pass on to your members: National Trust day pass - Members of civic societies who join Civic Voice will be eligible for a free day access pass to the National Trust (worth up to £14). If they are already members this can be given to a friend or relative. 25,000 passes have been accessed by civic societies already!
3. Celebrating the best of the movement: Marsh Civic Awards with the chance to win £1000 to recognise the Outstanding Civic Society in the country - The Marsh Awards are in partnership with Civic Voice and are presented each year at the Civic Voice Annual Convention.
4. Keeping you connected: Civic Update - This is our weekly news update giving you all the latest news and updates on all things "civic" - going forward, only registered civic society will be eligible to recieve update and our briefings and publications.
5. Saving your Money: Insurance with Lockton - Member civic societies are able to benefit from a choice of insurance packages which have been specially designed for civic society activities and can save you on average £100.
If your name is not on the list with our membership team, you will not longer be able to access our benefits. Are you accessing all your benefits? Check them out here.

Join Civic Voice today here.

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Civic movement events focusing on 50 years of Conservation Areas

Photograph: Ian Harvey

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of Conservation Areas and to celebrate Civic Voice is speaking at a variety of events to celebrate conservation areas over the next few months.

Civic Voice and our partners including Historic England and IHBC would like to encourage civic societies to attend to conference exploring Conservation Areas and community action.

Aimed at representatives from Town and Parish Councils, Civic Societies and Neighbourhood Planning Forums this is a great opportunity to discover practical ways communities can work to improve and manage their conservation areas.

September 21st - Stamford, East Midlands Register here.
October 3rd - London, Register here.
October 4th - Canterbury, South East Register here.
October 7th - Bristol, Register here.
November 9th - Birkenhead, North West Register (Details TBC)
November 11th - Coventry, West Midlands (Details TBC)

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WEBINAR: Conservation Areas - A different approach to appraisals 29/09/2017

Photograph: Scattering of papers (as on a desktop) regarding Conservation Area matters

A webinar (Web-based seminar) is a presentation that is transmitted over the Web. It is interactive. Participants can send, receive and discuss in real-time. It means no travelling across the country to learn about a subject, and whilst you can never replace face to face interaction, we think this webinar by Historic England is something civic societies should consider registering for.

Most conservation area appraisals have tended to follow a similar format. This webinar will be looking at a slightly different approach that was developed by a North Yorkshire Authority in conjunction with Historic England to address the particular threats to the Conservation Areas in that District. This approach could provide a model which other local planning authorities might consider using or adapting for their areas. The webinar will set out the background to this approach, explain why the Appraisals took the form they did, and will show an example of one of the Conservation Area Appraisals.

Booking is essential for this course to ensure you receive joining instructions.

Register here to watch this webinar (a new way of training!)

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Civic Voice to write to the Charity Commission about new guidance and 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.

Civic Voice will be writing to the Charity Commission outlining concerns that civic society members have expressed with us. Not least of these is the recommendation that trustees serve for a maximum of 9 years.

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.

Send any thoughts you have to and we will include them in our submission.

Kevin Trickett, Chair of the Yorkshire Association of Civic Societies shares his thought on the new Charity Governance code here and will be delivering a workshop at the Civic Voice Annual Convention discussing this issue.

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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 or have a query that you wouldlike us to include, send us your story here.

Join the movement!


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

Photograph: Stamford Conservation Area

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.

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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Cockermouth celebrates its conservation areas

As part of Heritage Open Days, an exhibition in the United Reformed Church, Cockermouth will celebrate 50 years of conservation areas.

As 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the creation of conservation areas in the UK, the booklet will commemorate this by informing people in Cockermouth and Papcastle what their responsibilities are as residents of a conservation area.

Phil Campbell, chairman of the trust, said people who own a property or live in a conservation area should regard themselves as temporary custodians of historic buildings for the benefit of future generations.

He added: "Both Cockermouth and Papcastle are lucky in that much of their historic character has been kept and it is important that future generations are able to appreciate this as much as we have.

"However, it is also important that they both continue to develop so as to meet the needs of the 21st Century without losing this character that makes them great places in which to live and work."

The booklet, which has been produced in association with Cockermouth Town Council, Papcastle Parish Council and Allerdale council, will be distributed to residents within the conservation areas. Copies will be made available for local groups, schools, residents and visitors.

Read more here.

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Bournemouth Civic Society has revealed plans to regenerate the threatened former Odeon

Bournemouth Civic Society has revealed plans to regenerate the threatened former Odeon in Westover Road as an arts centre for Bournemouth.

Working with leading international design architects Aedas and their specialist Arts Team, the Society has released the first visuals of the theatre revamped and rebranded with its original name, The Regent. Key features of the scheme include a new roof-top bar and a café-restaurant once again making use of the balcony with its views over the Lower Gardens and beyond.

The building is currently owned by Libra Homes, who have so far had two planning applications to demolish the building for 10- and 14-storey tower blocks refused by Bournemouth Council.

James Weir, the Society’s Heritage and Conservation Officer, said: “We are developing a scheme which not only respects the historic fabric of this locally listed, but nationally significant, building, but also its purpose – a place of culture and entertainment for Bournemouth.”

Read more here.

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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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Civic Day

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Civic Voice Design Awards News

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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.