Civic Voice Bulletins


civic update

16th December 2016

2016 has been a massive year for the civic movement and as this is the last civic update of the year, we thought we would take this opportunity to take a look at what not to miss in 2017.

We have the latest updates on what we have planned for the Big Conservation Conversation including a parliamentary debate and a conference to celebrate conservation areas, 50 years after the Civic Amenities Act was passed. 

We also have updates on the Civic Voice Design Awards and what events we are holding to celebrate past winners. You can now register your place at the All Souls study tour.

We also have updates on our All Party Parliamentary Group events, war memorials campaign, Sandys Lecture, and Convention. You can see everything that we have got planned for the upcoming year here.

All of that and a lot more in this week’s civic update…


John Kershaw 1950-2016

We are sorry to announce that John Kershaw, Trustee of Civic Voice and a long standing Chairman of Manchester Civic Society and Chair of the North West Association of Civic Societies died suddenly on November 19th in Manchester. John was appointed to the Civic Voice board on the 20th October 2012 and was the Chair of Constitution Sub-Committee (2012/13) and the Chair of Membership Sub-Committee (2015).

We send our condolences to John’s family and friends, to NWACTS and to Manchester Civic Society.  John will be missed by many and the Civic Voice Board of Trustees will be meeting in January to consider how we can recognise John’s contribution to the civic movement.

We are still awaiting details of funeral arrangements for those who may wish to attend and will advise when known.


The Big Conservation Conversation

Picture: Stamford Conservation Area, the first to be designated in England.
Our key theme for 2017 will be the Big Conservation Conversation, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act, which first introduced the concept of conservation areas.

As part of the Big Conservation Conversation IHBC has partnered with the national civic bodies and provided funding to help local civic societies celebrate their conservation areas. You can see more on the funding here.

When conservation areas legislation was introduced there was widespread public concern over the pace of redevelopment in our historic towns and cities. Today there are over 10,000 conservation areas in the UK (approximately 9,300 in England, 500 in Wales, 650 in Scotland and 60 in Northern Ireland) reflecting the popularity of this legislative tool in identifying and protecting our most valued historic places.

Conservation area designation essentially controls the demolition of unlisted buildings over a certain size and works to protect trees, restricts permitted development rights on dwelling houses and tightens regulations on advertising. It also places a statutory duty on local planning authorities to pay special attention to preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of conservation areas while undertaking their planning duties.

In 2017 the civic movement will be raising awareness of conservation areas and we want you to show your support. Sign up today to join our newsletter which will keep people updated on our activities. Sign up here.

Designating a conservation area should not be seen as an end in itself: we live in a changing world and for the historic environment to survive and continue to be cherished it needs to be positively managed. 

2017 is full of events to help the civic movement do this. ‘The Big Conservation Conversation’ parliamentary debate is planned for 7th March 2017 to discuss with MPs how everyone can work together to continue to protect their conservation areas. We are also in the process of planning a Big Conservation Conversation Conference in Stamford, where the first conservation area was designated. See all events for the year here.


Civic Voice Design Awards and Design Awards study tours


Video: Civic Voice Design Awards 2016, click on the image above to watch.

The Civic Voice Design Awards are the people’s choice for architecture and the built environment. It is the only design awards scheme in England which allows communities to celebrate the buildings, places and spaces they love for their high quality design and positive impact on the local community.
Building on the success of the 2015 and 2016 awards, Civic Voice, once again, is inviting nominations from community groups, â€‹civic societies, neighbourhood forums​, ​residents’ associations and friends of parks groups​​, ​for the 2017 awards.

Submit a scheme now.
‘New Build’, ‘Historic Buildings’ and ‘Public Realm’ categories are all returning for the third year. This year, Civic Voice also wants to hear ​about well-designed housing developments from across the country and has announced two new categories for new housing: one for developments of up to 50 dwellings and another for larger schemes. The new categories come at a vital time, with the country currently divided between wanting to get housing built as quickly as possible and communities demanding quality homes and development.

To mark the 50th anniversary of Conservation Area legislation in 2017, there will also be a special prize this year for a development within a Conservation Area, which could be awarded from any of the categories.

Have a fantastic building, project or development in mind? Submit your application by the deadline – 14th February 2017. Submit schemes here. â€‹Winners ​will be announced at â€‹the​ awards ceremony in Parliament in May​ 2017​.

Civic Voice Design Awards study tours


Also this year, to celebrate â€‹and learn from ​the success of schemes involved in the Civic Voice Design Award winners, we will be ​hosting a number of tours â€‹to winning schemes across England to explore in more detail how some of the amazing â€‹projects were developed.

​T​he first​ tour​ â€‹will be to All Souls Church, Bolton​ – Restoration​ category​ winner (2015) on Friday 27th January 2017. The tour will â€‹include ​a guide around the fantastic​ally modern community space set within a Grade II* listed church and will also be the first time the Civic Voice Design Awards plaque has been unveiled at the scheme. ​Interested in finding out more about All Souls Church? Register your place at the event here!
Another tour â€‹for 2017 ​will be â€‹to ​the 2015 Judges​’ ​Special Prize winning scheme, Slowing the Flow, Pickering to see how the flood prevention scheme is keeping Pickering safe during the wet months of the year. Definitely not one to be missed! The ​visit to Slowing the Flow will take place on 23rd March 2017, another one for your diary!​

If you are interested in attending either of these tours please email


Parliamentary debates

Picture: (Left to right) Deborah Lamb, Director of Engagement, Historic England, Griff Rhys Jones, Civic Voice President, Craig Mackinlay MP, chair of the APPG for Civic Societies, Carole Souter, former Chief Executive, Heritage Lottery Fund. 
Last year, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Civic Societies held four debates which were attended by various Ministers, MPs and Peers. The APPG for Civic Societies gives a stage for our members’ voices to be heard on a national scale by influential figures. We are planning to build on the great events that took place last year.

Next year, Civic Voice has three parliamentary debates planned. The first of the APPG for Civic Societies debates will be held on January 31st 2017.  The APPG for Civic Societies and APPG on Local Democracy will, once again, be partnering to deliver a debate which will be asking the question ‘Is Neighbourhood Planning going to deliver the homes the country needs?’ The debate will also be looking at other approaches which could be used to help get the homes built.

We have invited the Housing and Planning Minister, Gavin Barwell MP and Lord Matthew Taylor to attend the event, with chair of the APPG for Civic Societies, Craig Mackinlay MP and co-chair of the APPG on Local Democracy, Scott Mann MP to chair the event. You can register your place for free at the event here.

The second of the APPG for Civic Societies debates will be held on 21st February 2017 and will debate how to best look after the country’s Listed Buildings and what part the civic movement has to play in that. You will be able to register your place at this debate in the new year. As stated in the Big Conservation Conversation article we also have an APPG debate on 7th March 2017 which will debate how we can all come together to take better care of our conservation areas. Registration and more details will be released on this event in the new year.


Continuing the fight to save war memorials in 2017

Picture: Volunteers involved in the war memorials campaign
It has been a great year for the First World War Memorials Programme. This year, Civic Voice has gone that extra mile to make sure every community in England has been given the chance to get involved in the First World War Memorials Programme. Civic Voice has delivered 77 events and has engaged over 500 community groups in the programme.

From recruiting a new front line to getting coverage in local media to engaging thousands of volunteers, this year has been a real success for the First World War Memorials Programme but there is plenty of work left to do to make sure all of the country’s war memorials are repaired and conserved for the future.

Next year, we want to replicate this great work and make sure even more communities have heard about the project. We have already begun planning our events. The first war memorials workshop of 2017 will take place in Tamworth on 21st January, please see more here. January will also see Civic Voice delivering workshops in Norwich, Bolton, Portsmouth and Nottingham. See here where we will be going next year. If you would like to request a workshop in your area email

You can see all of the great work that has gone on over the year in the last edition of War Memorials News found here. If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please do so here.


Fiona Reynolds to deliver the Sandys Lecture 2017

Picture: Fiona Reynolds, former Director General at National Trust, who will be delivering the Sandys Lecture 2017

The Sandys Lecture recognises Lord Duncan Sandys’ outstanding contribution to the civic movement across England and each year a speaker is invited to consider challenges facing the movement.

The first lecture took place in April 2014 and fittingly the speaker for the occasion was Laura Sandys, daughter of Lord Duncan Sandys.

Since then Civic Voice has hosted two more Sandys Lectures. In 2015, the lecture was delivered by the former chief executive of English Heritage, Simon Thurley. The video for this lecture can be seen here. 

Last year, founder of architecture firm, Farrells, Sir Terry Farrell CBE delivered the lecture. He drew upon his experience from when he was invited by the Architecture Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, to lead a new, independent Review of Architecture and the Built Environment. He presented his findings to attendees in Parliament. 

The Sandys Lecture will be returning in 2017 and it has been confirmed that Fiona Reynolds, former Director General at the National Trust, will deliver the lecture. The lecture will take place in April with a definitive date being confirmed in the new year. 


Civic Day – June 17th 2017

Picture: Civic Day launch event in parliament last November.
Civic Day is a national celebration of civic pride. Next year it is taking place on June 17th 2017. For Civic Day 2017 we want communities across the country to come together and say “My Conservation Area Matters”. We are set to be launching a publication to celebrate the Big Conservation Conversation and want to include your stories. If you are planning to celebrate your conservation area, let us know at

Although conservation areas will be the key theme, we are encouraging anyone with plans to promote civic pride in their area to get involved no matter what you will be celebrating. You can find ideas on what to do in our Civic Day publication found here.

Civic Voice is also planning to host a series of workshops across the country to help our members with their Civic Day plans. The workshops will teach our members how to promote their events in the most effective manor and how best to engage with the public. See here where we are planning to host our workshops. Email if you are interested in attending any events. If you can’t make a workshop, why not use our toolkit found here.


Civic Voice Annual Convention heading to Wakefield

Picture: Last year’s Civic Voice Annual Convention in Chester
Next year, the Civic Voice Annual Convention will be heading to the historic city of Wakefield! The Convention will be taking place from Friday 21st October to Saturday 22nd October 2017. As next year is set to be one of our biggest we want to make sure the Convention replicates that. Planning has already begun and we have a whole host of events for you to get involved in.

The Civic Voice Convention is one of the best opportunities in the year for civic societies to get together to share their issues and learn from others how to best deal with them. Although every civic society is different a lot of the issues that they face are very similar. Attendees are also the first to find out about key announcements for the year to come. Not to mention, it is fun! Get your voice heard. Attend and be part of it!


Civic Society News

Civic Voice chair, Joan Humble on the road

Picture: Joan Humble with Skipton Civic Society
Joan Humble was appointed as new Civic Voice chair at the Civic Voice Convention in Chester this year. Since then she has been visiting civic societies across the country to spread the word about the civic movement. In the past month, Joan has visited four civic societies including Kendal Civic Society, Southport Civic Society, Fleetwood Civic Society and Skipton Civic Society. At each of her talks she spread the word about what Civic Voice has planned for 2017 and how the civic society can get involved. Joan also took time to listen to some of the groups local problems and addressed as many as she could. In the new year Joan will be continuing her tour of civic societies. We have a range of speakers available to talk to your civic society. Email to request a talk. 

Birmingham Civic Society joins Civic Voice

Picture: Birmingham Civic Society engages a younger audience through their ‘Next Generation Awards’
Civic Voice is delighted to welcome Birmingham Civic Society as our newest members. Birmingham Civic Society is one of the country’s most active societies, celebrating Birmingham’s heritage, promoting citizenship, recognising the people and places that have and do contribute to life in Birmingham. They encourage the highest standards of planning and architecture and help create a better environment. The society runs an active programme of engaging events, which you can see here. Welcome to Civic Voice, Birmingham Civic Society!

Pontefract’s Junior Civic Society

Picture: Pontefract Civic Society’s Junior Society
Pontefract Civic Society has partnered with Carleton Park J & I School to create a junior civic society. This has been a really great way to engage a younger audience and the younger members of this junior civic society have been really active since its launch. The pupils have sent out a questionnaire to the school to gauge what kind of events the school would like to see over the Christmas period in Pontefract. Results are set to come in very soon and will help Pontefract Civic Society plan their events next year. It is really great to see a civic society encourage a younger audience in their activities and we want to see more civic societies do the same! 

Get involved!


Parliamentary events

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Civic Societies is a group of MPs who have come together to support the work of the civic movement. APPG events are debates which are held in Parliament and open to the public.

Over the years Civic Voice has held a number of APPG events in Parliament debating issues such as the Planning System, and the Historic Environment.


Regional War Memorials workshops

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


Trustees’ Roadshow

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.

Join the movement!

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