As a registered charity, the Society has a defined ‘area of benefit’. This is the geographical area that the Society covers and across which we are allowed to expend the charity’s resources. We cannot apply our resources to places which are not within our area of benefit.
The good news is that you don’t need to live within the area of benefit to be a member: indeed, we have members who live in various parts of the UK – and even overseas!
The map below, created for us by Rhubarb Design House, shows the area we cover, shaded in grey, in more detail.
The Society is a community organisation and was established in 1964 and before the major local government reorganisation of 1974.
In 1964, there were 13 councils covering the geographical area that we today recognise as the Wakefield Metropolitan District. These 13 councils became part of the new City of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council in 1974.
From the late 1950s onwards, communities in every town and city were being encouraged to set up a civic society. Wakefield Civic Society was created following a public meeting that was held at Wakefield Town Hall in March 1964. The Society’s first committee drew up a governing document for the Society, the Constitution, which set out the Society’s charitable purposes. The fist of these was ‘To encourage high standards of architecture and town planning in Wakefield and district’ but the district referred to here is not the Metropolitan District we recognise today. It referred to the area that the committee in 1964 agreed the Society should cover and was based on three of the council areas that existed at the time. These were: City of Wakefield Corporation, Wakefield Rural District Council and Stanley Urban District Council.
Over the years since then, the Society has responded to changes in boundaries occasioned by realignment of council areas between Wakefield and neighbouring councils but our main area of focus remains very much as it was in 1964.
We don’t, therefore, cover the other towns in today’s Metropolitan District. However, there are four other civic societies that do cover some of the other places in the Metropolitan District which lie outside our own area. These are: Castleford and District Civic Trust, Horbury Civic Society, Ossett Civic Trust and Pontefract Civic Society. This does mean that there are some parts of the District that don’t have a civic society – but we’d be happy to talk to any group interested in setting up a new civic society in one of those areas.
Of course, when it comes to matters of planning and development, the Society does need to look wider than just our immediate ‘area of benefit’ because developments being proposed for places which fall outside our area can have implications for people living and working within the area we cover. This is particularly true of national, regional and sub-regional infrastructure projects but could also be true of smaller developments for new buildings and facilities which are in close proximity to our area.