Have you ever looked up at a decaying but characterful old building in Leicester and thought "that should be restored"?
Do you get annoyed by badly designed buildings dumped unsympathetically next to good architecture?
Are there areas near you crying out for regeneration that seem to be ignored by planners and developers?
If the answer to these questions is yes then you've found the right people!
Leicester Civic Society is a registered charity, affiliated to Civic Voice which provides an independent voice in matters regarding planning, architecture and the preservation of built heritage. Behind Leicester Civic Society is a dedicated team of officers, committee members, and volunteers.
Leicester must surely be Britain's most underrated city! Unfortunately it hasn't always helped itself - many visitors struggle to believe that the city is in fact at least 2000 years old when confronted by vast areas of bland residential and industrial sprawl. However, 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 the city.
We aim to protect these gems making them the inspiration and centrepieces for future developments. This doesn't mean pickling them in aspic or turning them all into museums - we believe in renovation and re-use as one of the best means of preservation.
This approach would be taken as read in almost every other city in Britain but this does not seem to have been absorbed into the culture of planning in Leicester. Instead we have an attitude where older buildings are either sidelined or treated as a 'problem' rather than an asset that could be restored and (crucially) re-used. Where else would a 10 storey Holiday Inn be permitted next to a 2000 Roman bath house (a scheduled ancient monument), BT Cardinal House tower block next to Grade II Listed Spa Place or the grotesque Victoria Hall student accommodation next to St Mary's de Castro and the Castle area?
Regeneration and Progress
Regeneration is vital to the prosperity of any city. Leicester Regeneration Company's 'Masterplan' launched in 2002 represented a sea change in the approach to development, away from the old 'pepperpot' individual developments of the past towards a co-ordinated plan for large parts of the city. Unfortunately, not all developments in the city came under the remit of the regeneration company. The election of Sir Peter Soulsby in 2011 brought new vision and "Visit Leicester"'s regeneration page lists the plans contained in the Economic Action Plan for 2012-2020. Included in the scheme is the Waterside Development Plan announced in the Leicester Mercury in January 2015. Leicester Civic Society has continued to champion imaginative development and challenge adverse planning applications. In 2005 we began our annual architectural awards scheme, one for restoration and one for new build, which has gone from strength to strength and has been joined by a special community award when we decided not to give a "new build" award one year. 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.