New report brings to light the extraordinary amount of work that civic societies do

A new independent report which aims to better understand the role that civic societies play in the English planning system has been published by academics from the University of Reading. The report was launched at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies on 8th February 2022.

The report titled, Civic Societies and the Planning Process, draws on data collected through a survey questionnaire sent to all Civic Voice member societies. This independent report is the first extensive survey of how civic societies perceive their role in planning processes under the restructured planning system introduced by the Localism Act 2011.

The report is available on the University of Reading website at:

The research shows that engagement with the planning system is a significant part of the work of most civic societies, with some spending more than 80% of their time engaging with it. We can then assume that the planning system also spends considerable time engaging with or dealing with civic societies, supported by the fact that more than half of civic societies have been approached directly by the Local Planning Authority for their inputs. The report recommends that any further reform of the planning system must then explicitly consider this relationship as considerable expertise and experience on local planning matters does also rest with civic societies.

Joan Humble, Chair of Civic Voice said: “This report shows that against a backdrop of declining civic engagement in wider society, the civic movement is still playing a vital role in the planning system. When the system seems to be pre-occupied with housing delivery, economic growth and development viability, civic societies continue to be an independent voice for communities across England."

Dr Christopher Maidment and Professor Angelique Chettiparamb from the Department of Real Estate and Planning have produced the report exploring the role of local civic societies in the English planning system. The survey was administered by Civic Voice to all 232 of their members and asked societies 24 questions in total. The survey was opened from 15 September 2021 and closed on 15 December 2021. At this point 58 responses had been received. The survey has generated a substantial volume of both quantitative and qualitative data that will give useful insights into how civic societies engage with the English planning system.

This report presents the results to each of the questions and provides the descriptive pointers that emerge from this data. The individual section summaries conclude the overall pattern discernible in each section, recognising that these are based on civic societies’ own perceptions and reporting of their work. The overall conclusion chapter discusses the section summaries and implications for policy that emerge from these summaries.

You can watch a recording of the All Party Parliamentary for Civic Societies event at:

Ian Harvey .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)