Our vision is of a country where every individual can say "I am proud of where I live"
Welcome to the July edition of civic sense.
This month we bring you news on the new Community Rights; update you on the sector wide VAT campaign; share news about the future strategy from the Heritage Lottery Fund and also bring you the usual round up on key news relating to localism, as well as bring to your attention new valuable research about the true value of conservation areas.
We are delighted that groups including Fleet, Saddleworth, Newcastle, Winchester, Marple,Louth, Hunstanton, Marple, Chester and several others all participated in the first Civicwatch survey.
Civicwatch was a survey undertaken on Civic Day across a number of locations to sample "How proud people are of where they live".
Although the results are still coming in, so far over 1500 surveys have been completed. If your group has yet to get involved, you can learn more about it here.
We will be running Civicwatch again in 2013 to build on from the first year results.
Street Pride is Civic Voice’s national campaign supporting local action to help rid our streets of unnecessary clutter. We are gathering evidence to support a national call for action to create more streets we can be proud of. In recent weeks we have seen an upsurge in the number of enquiries we have recieved from groups about street clutter. We are hoping to re-launch this campaign in a new way in the near future and would welcome comments on what you think appropriate.
At the heart of our Street Pride is a campaign toolkit with information on a street survey which your local group can undertake. You can download the toolkit here.
You can also see some reports other civic groups have submitted for Street Pride below:
More funding will be provided to the four organisations offering support for neighbourhood planning, planning minister Greg Clark has confirmed.
The funding, part of the Supporting Communities and Neighbourhoods in Planning, had been due to run out at the end of this month but will now continue until 31 March next year.
Many civic groups have already benefited from the free support. If your group has yet to speak with one of the four organisations delivering this work, we would recommend you making contact!
The full statement is available here.
The provisions for the Community Right to Challenge have come into force, with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) also publishing the statutory guidance in final form (available here).
The Community Right to Challenge allows a range of people and organisations – such as civic societies, parish councils and local authority employees – to express an interest in taking over the running of local authority services.
Relevant authorities – county, district and London borough councils and fire and rescue authorities – must consider those expressions of interest.
Where they accept an expression of interest, the authorities must run a procurement exercise. There is, however, no guarantee that the organisation that made the expression of interest will win that exercise. This point was picked up quite strongly in Civic Voice workshops back in March.
The DCLG also unveiled an £11.5m support package intended to help community groups through the process. The contract to deliver this programme was won by the Social Investment Business, which will work in partnership with Locality and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations.
The support will include a dedicated advice phone line and grants to help groups use the right, which was brought in under the Localism Act 2011.
More information is available on the Government's website here.
The government has launched a consultation into three key proposals aimed at speeding up planning applications.
The proposals are for a reduction in nationally-prescribed information requirements for outline planning applications and a new requirement that councils update their local information requirements every two years.
The standard application form would also be simplified by amalgamating requirements for agricultural land declarations and ownership certificates. The consultation closes on 11 September and more information is available here.
Please do share your thoughts with our Planning Panel via email@example.com .
Home owners in conservation areas do not generally see additional planning regulations as a burden, according to a new study by English Heritage
The research, funded by English Heritage and undertaken by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), analysed more than one million property transactions between 1995 and 2010 from the Nationwide building society and data on more than 8,000 English conservation areas.
It found that properties in conservation areas sell for 23 per cent more on average than houses outside conservation areas. A premium of around nine per cent was still found when location, the kind of properties involved and other factors affecting house prices were adjusted for.
However, this falls by four percentage points (to five per cent) in conservation areas that are classified by local authorities as being "at risk", which could mean buildings lying derelict, loss of historic details such as sash windows, neglected public spaces and new buildings which threaten the area’s character.
You can find more information about this research here including a breakdown by region in house prices in and outside of conservation areas.
You can see a leaflet produced by Louth Civic Trust for residents living in a conservation area here.
Even though over 200 civic groups made contact with their local MP over our VAT relief campaign, the government looks intent on proceeding with its plan to begin charging VAT on approved alterations to listed buildings, though it has extended the transitional period for works already under way until 2015.
Read a statement by the Heritage Alliance (Civic Voice is a member) who have led the industry response here.
The government has announced an agreement to devolve powers to eight of England’s largest cities including greater control over infrastructure.
In return the cities have agreed to put in more accountable local leadership and spend their resources more efficiently with the aim of speeding up economic growth. The cities are also charged with bringing down youth unemployment and accelerating regeneration.
This will give Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester greater freedom from Whitehall control.
More information is available here.
A new report has been launched urging the Government to consider reopening lines closed by Beeching.
The latest Green Paper from ResPublica, Re-thinking Neighbourhood Planning (available here), argues that involving communities in planning on a collaborative, rather than purely consultative basis will not only lead to more successful developments, it can also generate social capital and value: stronger and more cohesive communities. Written in association with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the publication recommends that:
Read the report here.
The kerb-free, single surface Exhibition Road has won its third award since opening officially in February 2012.
Its architects, Dixon Jones, were recognised in the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awards, winning the design competition to integrate vehicle and foot traffic and provide an attractive pedestrian environment without unduly compromising the road's role as a key transport link.
The new-look road features a kerb-free single surface with no barriers or street clutter. Visual and tactile lines distinguish pedestrian areas from those used by vehicles. Cars are slowed by a 20mph speed limit.
If you like the look of Exhibition Road, you should consider joining our Street Pride campaign here.
Natural England, with support from the Forestry Commission and Defra, has published its third year of findings in the definitive survey of the way people enjoy the great English outdoors. The Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) survey, which sampled 47, 000 people in 2011/12, provides a unique data set on long term trends in countryside usage.
You can view the findings here.
The Trees and Design Action Group have published a new guide centered around urban trees and is designed for use by everyone involved in making or influencing the decisions that shape neighbourhood towns and cities.
With over 80% of the UK’s population living in urban settings, trees in and around built up areas, which are often referred to as the “urban forest”, form an increasingly important part of the infrastructure that makes places work, look and feel better.
The strategic framework for 2013-2018 sets out plans designed to deliver long term and sustainable benefits in response to the newly emerging needs facing the heritage sector.
Full framework is available here
Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund Dame Jenny Abramsky also discusses the HLF’s new funding framework here.