A civic society is a voluntary organisation established to promote the interests of a local community. They aim to foster civic pride and to shape and preserve the identity of a place or community. Civic societies are formed in the belief that the public should take an active role within the management of their communities and that decision-making and leadership should not come from local councillors and local government officers alone. An actively engaged community, is a defence against apathy, indifference and ill-informed criticism.
A civic society takes an active interest in the historic environment and the cultural identity of a community. To protect these for the interests of future generations, a civic society will carry out a range of functions, including, but not limited to:
- Commenting on planning applications and planning policy
- Organising lectures and educational activities
- Engaging with educational institutions and businesses
- Running social events for members and the wider community
- Intervening to save historic buildings, where possible
Civic societies have an important function as a ‘watchdog’. This involves monitoring planning applications and commenting, where appropriate, in a timely manner.