Wakefield Civic Society to host Civic Voice Spring Convention

6-8 Silver Street, Wakefield: one of the buidlings in the Westgate Heritage Action Zone

Civic society representatives from across the country are invited to Wakefield to see how Wakefield Civic Society is working with the Council and other stakeholders on the district’s Heritage and Culture regeneration strategy.

In May 2023, Civic Voice, the national body for civic societies, working with the Yorkshire and Humber Association of Civic Societies (YHACS) and Halifax Civic Trust, hosted their Spring Convention at the Piece Hall in Halifax. It was a great success, bringing together civic society represenatives from across England to hear guest speakers on a range of subjects focused on place-making and pride in place.

Following on from the success that event, we are delighted to announce that Wakefield Civic Society will be hosting this year’s Spring Convention in Wakefield on 12th and 13th April in association once again with YHACS. The Convention is one of three such events being organised by CIvic Voice across the country during 2024.

The theme for the Wakefield Convention is Heritage and Culture-led Regeneration, twin prongs of an approach being taken across Wakefield District to bring new life – and investment – into the area.

And there is a lot happening in Wakefield at the moment! A £4M 4-year High Street Heritage Action Zone is drawing to a close, having led to the refurbishment of a number of key buildings (such as the one pictured, believed to date from 1590) as well as public realm improvements along Westgate, one of the main thoroughfares in and out of the city. Meanwhile, the district is benefiting from grants from a number of sources, including Town Deal and Levelling Up funding, Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund in addition to investment from private sector businesses. But the investment isn’t just targeted at bricks and mortar – there is also a vibrant cultural programme being delivered and 2024 is Wakefield District’s ‘year of culture’, branded Our Year 2024. Importantly, local civic societies across the district work closely with the Council and other stakeholders to help deliver the vision for the Wakefield District as a great place in which to live, work – and visit.

Through an exciting line-up of guest speakers, the Convention will highlight how public investment and private sector enterprise can not only shape places but can also transform them. Although what is happening in Wakefield will be used as a case study, there are lessons that can be applied elsewhere and some of the guest speakers will open up the subject matter to what is happening across the region and beyond. Wakefield Civic Society will share their experiences of working with the Council and developers to show how partnership working can be a productive way of not only boosting the reputation of civic societies, but also recruiting new members.

There are a number of elements to the Convention programme which starts on Friday afternoon at 2pm. Details are as follows:

Friday, 12th April, 2:00 to 4:00pm: Guided walks

Explore the Westgate High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) with a free guided walk led by Wakefield Civic Society. (This walk is primarily for people attending the Convention as some of the content of the Convention will be about the HAZ.)

Friday, 12th April 7:00pm to 10:30pm: Convention Dinner

To be held at Create Café in the city centre where Convention delegates will have exclusive use of the facilities, there will be a drinks reception, pre-dinner talk (to be confirmed), a three-course dinner with wine, followed by coffee and mints. Cost per person is just £45

Saturday, 13th April, 10:00am to 4:00pm, Civic Voice Spring Convention

The venue for the Convention is CAPA College (directly opposite Westgate Railway Station), a new, purpose-built college building for the performing arts (and a Wakefield Civic Society Design Award winner!). Doors open at 9.30am for tea/coffee and pastries and the Convention then starts at 10.00am.

The morning session will look at Heritage-led Regeneration and will feature presentations from Wakefield Council, developers Rushbond and Historic England among others.

The afternoon session will look at Culture-led Regeneration and guest speakers will include representatives from Wakefield Council, a local-artist, and Wakefield Civic Society among others. There will also be news from YHACS and Civic Voice. The line-up of speakers is still being confirmed but keep an eye on the Eventbrite page for all the latest news.

The event will close at 4pm.

The cost to attend the Convention only is just £40 but there is an option to book for both the Dinner and Convention together for £80, saving £5 on the cost of booking separately.

The event is open to all – civic society members, representatives from other amenity societies and individuals interested in the items covered by the agenda.

For more information and to book, have a look at the Wakefield Civic Society Eventbrite page here: https://shorturl.at/cjpv3

For anyone looking to stay overnight, the Holiday Inn Express is a hotel to consider. It is close to the venues and a short walk from Westgate Railway Station. Although it has a small car park, there is 24-hour overnight parking available in the adjacent Ridings Shopping Centre car park.

If you have any questions, please email Kevin Trickett at info @wakefieldcivicsociety.org.uk