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LATEST EVENTS MEMBERS ARCHIVE JOURNALS SERVICES ABOUT
Civic Voice - talking civic sense

civic sense

www.civicvoice.org.uk | 0151 708 9920 | info@civicvoice.org.uk | @civic_voice

Welcome

Welcome to this first issue of civic sense, replacing the Civic Society Initiative’s Civic Matters. civic sense provides you with news and information on political, planning and public policy issues. There are also ideas and tips for campaigning and a summary checklist of actions civic societies can take. Let us know what you think of it and help us improve the second issue.

Action checklist

civic sense includes a number of suggestions for things civic societies and other local groups can do. These are summarised in the checklist of actions below:

  • write to your new MP and encourage him or her to complete and return the Love Local survey
  • download and use the new Street Pride briefings on posts, signs, bollards and guard rails
  • let us know if you want to be involved in the High Speed Rail campaign or have concerns about cycling superhighways
  • join up to the Civic Voice/RSA online discussion forum on Place making and civic society

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Government and Politics

The votes are in!

After one of the liveliest General Election campaigns in recent years our MPs have been elected and a new Government is being formed. There are scores of first time MPs in the new intake and encouraging opportunities for the civic movement to play a stronger part in what Parliament gets up to.

Now is the best time to make contact with your new MPs, whether they are new to the role or have been in Parliament before. It is a chance for every civic society to write outlining what you do, addressing your key issues and concerns and asking for a meeting. The importance of local communities has been at the heart of all the main political manifestoes and you may wish to remind your MPs of this.

You can also help everyone in the civic movement by asking your local MPs to join the Love Local campaign.

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Ask your MP to join the Love Local campaign

Civic Voice’s Love Local campaign is uncovering the DNA of what makes places distinctive and why people are proud to live there. The three party leaders have all joined the campaign – see what they said here.

We are now asking all civic societies to contact their MPs and ask them to join the Love Local campaign. A copy of the survey is available below for you to send. Please will you pass on all the replies you get to Civic Voice at info@civicvoice.org.uk and we can build a picture of what matters to our newly elected representatives.

Download the Love Local questions here and send them to your MPs.

Civic Voice will also be contacting the English MPs to introduce our role as the new national charity for the civic movement.

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Planning and Transport

New draft planning policies on nature, coast and climate change

In a flurry of pre-Election announcements two new draft planning policy statements have been published – on the natural environment and climate change – and final planning policies have been published on managing coastal change. Together these new policies represent a significant greening of the planning system which will alter the look and feel of new development for years to come.

Find out more here

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Changes to planning application publicity

Important changes to the requirements for publicising planning applications were announced in March along with some other detailed changes. From 1 October all local planning authorities must make information on planning applications available on their website. The time period for site notices for applications for listed building or conservation consent has also been increased from 7 to 21 days.

Among other changes, the time limit for lodging a planning appeal has been reduced to 28 days where there is enforcement action being taken and the Secretary of State no longer has to approve the use of Article 4 Directions removing permitted development rights.

Find out more here

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Infrastructure Commission puts projects on the map

The controversial Infrastructure Planning Commission has recently published details of the major projects which it will be considering. These include developments ranging from overhead power lines and wind turbines to nuclear power stations and roads.

You can see whether your area is likely to be affected using the map here

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High Speed Rail – the lines are drawn

Civic Voice is taking a close interest in the plans for a new High Speed Rail line from London to Birmingham and beyond. A meeting for the civic societies most affected with the promoters, HS2, is being organised and we are looking to highlight the true impacts of the alternatives being put forward. Detailed routes have now been published by the Department for Transport and a vigorous public debate is expected. Let us know if you want to be involved info@civicvoice.org.uk.

Read more about the DfT’s proposals here and there is useful media coverage here

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Cyclists see blue

The first cycle “superhighways” are being installed in London and are set to have a dramatic impact on the street scene. There are lively arguments about whether this investment will have the impact of increasing cycling for fold but perhaps too little debate over the visual impact of this “gesture engineering”.

We are all familiar with the growing use of coloured road surfaces and generally this takes some account of the context and respects environments such as conservation areas. This is not the case for the new cycle superhighways which come in a striking blue. This may set a precedent for investment in other parts of the country.

A video showing the impact can be seen here and a more information, including a downloadable map of their location, here

If any civic societies in London or elsewhere are keen to join forces with others to make representations then let Civic Voice know.

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Sponsor a pothole anyone?

The severe winter snow and ice has been hugely damaging to road surfaces across the country and many Highway Authorities are struggling to repair the cracks and holes. One authority in Germany has gone so far as to get pothole sponsorship where 50euros will get action to tar over the pothole and have your name on a plaque placed over it.

Read more here

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Research, reports and campaigns

Street Pride briefings published

The Street Pride campaign to rid our streets of unnecessary clutter continues to gain momentum with the publication of special Civic Voice briefings on the key causes of clutter. The four briefing notes have been prepared by urban design expert David Orr and provide guidance on posts, signs, bollards and guard rails. They have been written for non-experts and provide information on why these items of street furniture are used, the policy background and alternatives; each being illustrated by photos and examples of good and bad practice.

The first Street Pride campaign workshop has now been held in Wakefield and there is still space to join one of the four others being run in May and June in Winchester, Warwick, London and Manchester. Over 75 civic societies have joined up with the Street Pride campaign.

Find out more and download the briefings here

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Heritage at risk – English Heritage survey

English Heritage’s latest survey of “heritage at risk” will be published on 1st July. Last year’s focus on conservation areas has now switched to places of worship. Civic societies and others are being asked to contribute to a survey of the state of the nation’s places of worship. You can contribute by visiting the English Heritage website here and you will also be kept in touch with the new guide on looking after listed places of worship which is in preparation.

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“Ordinary places” matter – it’s official!

CABE, the Government’s architecture and design watchdog, has published a helpful new report putting the spotlight on the “ordinary places” where everyone lives. It warns these places can be taken for granted and provides pointers to how they can benefit from the same resurgence that many town centres have experienced.

Read more here

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Heritage tourism contributes £20bn

While the historic environment is important for its own sake there is no doubt that evidence of its economic value can also be significant when campaigning for its future. The Heritage Lottery Fund’s new report on the economic contribution of heritage tourism is an important new contribution to the evidence and concludes that national GDP benefits to the tune of more than £20bn.

Read more here

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CABE plugs green space information gap

The importance of local green spaces has come near the top of Civic Voice’s Love Local campaign as a contributor to civic pride. It is striking, therefore, how little information is available on what exists and how well it is looked after. CABE has begun to plug this gap in partnership with others through a new urban green space campaign. This includes publication of new research on the value of greenspace and an inventory of more than 16,000 green spaces.

Read more here

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Village greens – “monumental” legal break through

The High Court has made a significant ruling that helps with the registration of village greens. Village green status is important for providing a higher level of statutory protection. Until now it had been thought that land used for private purposes by the landowner could not be registered even if used informally for recreation by local people. This position has now been reversed in a decision described by the Open Spaces Society as “monumental” relating to land near Redcar where locals have used the land for over 20 years without being challenged.

Read more here

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Civil society being “pushed to margins”

Carnegie UK has published the final report of its authoritative Commission of Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society. This presents a fascinating overview of the changing role of local community and civic organisations and activities which will be of interest to civic societies. It includes analysis of the role of civic society in addressing the challenges of economic recovery and climate change as well as democratising the media and increasing levels of participation. There is a call for civil society organisations, like the civic movement, to be “bolder in asserting what it can contribute”.

Read more here

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World Heritage Site deadline approaches

Applications to add to the UK’s 28 existing World Heritage Sites need to be submitted by 11 June in new guidance issued by DCMS. A number of civic societies are involved in considering locations such as the Lake District and the Solent.

Read more here

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National Park vision wins support

It has been a good year for supporters of National Parks with the South Downs joining the family and publication of a new Government circular and vision for National Parks looking ahead to 2030.

The Vision has been prepared with all the National Park Authorities and aspires for them to be places

  1. Where everyone can discover the rich variety of England’s natural and historic environment, and have the chance to value them as places for escape, adventure, enjoyment, inspiration and reflection, and a source of national pride and identity
  2. Notable for their natural beauty and cultural heritage.
  3. Where wildlife flourishes and woodland cover has increased
  4. Which are pivotal in the transformation to a low carbon society and sustainable living.

Read more here

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Call to protect historic advertisements

Old advertisements on buildings can be an important contribution to the character of many places and they are being lost as a result of damage and neglect. The History of Advertising Trust has published an online archive with 600 important examples of these “ghost signs” which can be viewed here

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Seaside strategy gains ground

Two important new reports on seaside regeneration have been published in recent months. The Coastal Communities Alliance has produced a practitioner’s guide to improving coastal towns and also supported a new Government strategy. Both emphasise the importance of culture-led regeneration and are food for thought for the seaside cluster of civic societies which links different groups across the country with a shared interest in their future.

Read the Coastal Communities Alliance report here

Read the Government’s strategy here

Find out more about Civic Voice’s cluster of coastal civic societies here

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New champion for heritage crafts

There has been concern over the loss of heritage craft skills for years and report after report has highlighted it as a serious issue to meeting future conservation challenges. In response the Heritage Crafts Association has been formed to protect, promote and record skills and value them in their own right.

Find out more here

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Key Partnerships

Heritage Open Days

This years Heritage Open Days is being run between 9 and 12 September and promises once again to be one of the most important cultural events in the national calendar. Civic societies are key to the success of HODs and they provide an opportunity to meet new people and encourage them to learn more about civic societies as well

HODs is co-ordinated by English Heritage and Civic Voice is a member of the steering group along with a number of individual civic societies.

A report on last years HODs has just been published and can be read here

Find out more about HODs and get involved here

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Democracy Matters

Civic Voice is part of the alliance of organisations working under the umbrella of Democracy Matters to promote the importance of citizen participation and encourage practical support which helps local communities campaign and get more involved. All prospective MPs were asked for their support and there is a lively agenda to be addressed by the new Government.

Find out more here

Civic Voice led a group of over 40 charities and social entrepreneurs in a letter to the Daily Telegraph highlighting the important role to be played by local communities in shaping the future of their local area. A copy of the letter can be read here (you will need to scroll down the page).

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Royal Society for Arts

Civic Voice has partnered with the influential Royal Society for Arts (RSA) to help provoke a debate over the role of local communities in revitalising and taking more control over decisions on the ground. This is part of the RSA’s Connected Communities project and is based around a joint discussion forum on Place making and civic society where RSA fellows and civic volunteers are invited to raise issues and respond to others. The RSA is taking practical action to explore and strengthen the role of civil society in Peterborough through its Citizen Power project and Peterborough Civic Society is involved.

Join up to the joint discussion forum here

Find our more about the RSA’s Connected Communities project here and Citizen Power project here

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Government and Politics

The votes are in!

Ask your MP to join the Love Local campaign

Planning news

New draft planning policies on nature, coast and climate change

Changes to planning application publicity

Infrastructure Commission puts projects on the map

High Speed Rail – the lines are drawn

Cyclists see blue

Sponsor a pothole anyone?

Research, reports and campaigns

Street Pride briefings published

Heritage at risk – English Heritage survey

“Ordinary places” matter – it’s official!

Heritage tourism contributes £20bn

CABE plugs green space information gap

Village greens – “monumental” legal break through

Civil society being “pushed to margins”

World Heritage Site deadline approaches

National Park vision wins support

Call to protect historic advertisements

Seaside strategy gains ground

New champion for heritage crafts

Key Partnerships

Heritage Open Days

Democracy Matters

Royal Society for Arts

Key Links

The Heritage Alliance promotes the role of the voluntary movement in the heritage sector

Public Realm advice for civic societies

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