Read more about how Leicester Civic Society campaigns to protect the architectural heritage of our historic city in the areas of Planning and Conservation.
Leicester Civic Society
We campaign for higher standards of planning, architecture and regeneration in Leicester as well as the preservation, restoration and re-use of historic buildings.
We believe quality regeneration and imaginative modern architecture can co-exist alongside the older fabric of the city. However, this is rarely accomplished in Leicester due to poor planning, short-termism by developers and ignorance of the historical and cultural value of older buildings.
Until recently, Leicester was probably one of Britain’s most underrated cities. Certainly, if asked, most people might have a vague awareness of the place but no real idea of what makes it unique.
The discovery of King Richard III under an office car park probably changed all that. What is not often recognised, even by the millions that are now aware thanks to its royal association is that the city is in fact at least 2000 years old, with a history and heritage to match any other city in the country.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t always helped itself, and until recently little thought was given to its promotion as an attraction for the tourist and traveller. This is a pity because anyone who takes the time to explore the city properly will find fantastic Roman, Saxon, Norman, Medieval, Georgian, Victorian and 20th Century architecture sprinkled throughout.
Leicester Civic Society aims to protect these gems, making them the inspiration and ambition for future developments. This doesn’t mean pickling them in aspic or turning them all into museums – we believe in innovation and inspiration to re-use old buildings and their surroundings as one of the best means of preservation.
As an organisation, we are almost 50 years old, and like many campaigning bodies, the society was formed in order to battle with a local authority that believed a new, bland and nondescript office block should replace a fine Victorian railway station building.
Saving the Midland Railway Station on London Road was the beginning of a number of campaigns to save and preserve the heritage of the city through its historic older buildings.
Through the support of its members, the Civic Society has shown leadership locally in changing attitudes to the value of our older buildings. We will continue to use our influence on policy makers to maintain that positive attitude within the culture of planning and development in Leicester.
In 2005 we began our annual architectural awards scheme, one for restoration and one for new build, which continues to highlight talent for innovation, great design and the role of heritage in the life of our city.
Heritage & Progress
Leicester has often been recognised as a place of innovation and non-conformist attitudes. It was in this vein that Leicester saw the election of Sir Peter Soulsby as the first directly elected mayor of Leicester in 2011.
Taking on an executive role with responsibility for strategic leadership of the city including its economic and commercial development, a new political chapter began in the life of the city. Leicester’s new vision included an Economic Action Plan for 2012-2020 and a new approach to regeneration which envisaged heritage featuring as a catalyst for growing the economy and creating an attractive place to live, work, and visit.
A belief that the old and the new can and should co-exist to make an attractive and sustainable city has resulted in strategies to deliver on health and wellbeing and transport and tourism. The Heritage Partnership was also established in 2011 promote the preservation, creative use and interpretation of the city’s historic built environment.
Leicester Civic Society is pleased to be an active member of the Heritage Partnership. Planning and development are always of interest to the Civic Society and its members and we will be watching carefully the progress of the emerging planning policy as Leicester sets out its revised local plan for the next 15 years.
Leicester Civic Society will continue to champion imaginative development and challenge inappropriate planning applications.
We have comprehensively surveyed the city and identified 16 potential new conservation areas or updates to existing areas.
We continually monitor and highlight Leicester’s ‘Heritage at Risk’. Our approach to regeneration is heritage-driven and innovative; we seek to combine the best of the past with designs, architecture and technologies which aspire to be the best of the future.