We run a year-round programme of Oxford-themed talks, walks and visits aimed to encourage an awareness and understanding of our city. The talks (free and open to all) are given by leading speakers in interesting locations across the city. Topics can include Oxford’s history, buildings, arts and science, and current development projects.

The extensive programme of visits and walks (members only and usually for a small charge) is led by local experts and held both in and out of Oxford.


Magdalen’s Grove Auditorium has level access via the main entrance doors though the foyer. Wheelchairs may be placed in front of the front row of seats. There is an accessible toilet via the fire exit leading to Longwall Street from the front of the Auditorium. Neither venue has disabled parking spaces nearby although there are limited general pay-and-display parking places in Longwall Street near the Grove Auditorium entrance.

Rewley House is wheelchair accessible via a ramp. Once inside there is a lift to the lecture theatre and to the bar! There is limited parking in Wellington Square and more in St Giles.

Oxford Town Hall Assembly Room is on the first floor. There is a street-level entrance to the Town Hall on St Aldate’s immediately after the Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop. You may need to ring the bell to get the door opened by Reception. Once inside there is a lift to the first floor and then a level floor to the meeting room.

Good Growth debates

Four free debates on development planning and management in Oxfordshire

  • How can we ensure good growth in Oxfordshire?

    Four free debates on development planning and management in Oxfordshire  organised by Oxford Civic Society.

    aerial view housing and open country

    We all know that Oxfordshire is a wonderful place: beautiful countryside, magnificent buildings, a thriving economy and a reputation for innovation. Who wasn’t proud that the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid was developed by our university?
    And what makes Oxford attractive to us also makes it attractive to others. We are constantly told of the need for more housing, more space for business and technology, more and better transport links. But how is this growth to be achieved without compromising what makes our city and county special? And how can it be reconciled with the need to modify our behaviour for the sake of the climate?

    These debates will explore how the plans of various agencies can be pulled together around agreed basic assumptions to achieve sustainable and equitable development which supports the competitiveness of the economy.

    There are many plans recently made or currently being made – the Local Plans of the Oxfordshire District Councils and the City Council, the Oxfordshire 2050 Spatial Plan, a new County Council Transport and Connectivity Plan, an updated Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy, an Oxfordshire Local Industrial Strategy and more. Yet even with an Oxfordshire Vision now in place, it is not clear how these various plans of various agencies will deliver the future we need. Our aim with these debates is to bring clarity to a confused picture and to look for common ground and the best ways forward. The four debates cover:

    • Planning for Our Future: How to ensure good growth
    • Transport and travel
    • Homes and settlements
    • Climate Change: the path to Net Zero

    At each debate Oxford Civic Society will open the floor with an explanation of its own analysis of where we are and how we might get to where we want to go. This is followed in each event by speakers on the national development context, the local context from a civil society point of view and from a local political figure with a major role in development. Each debate is concluded with a Q&A session chaired by the Society.

    The debates will take place online in May 2021 on two Saturdays, with the Development Planning and Transport Planning events on Saturday 15 May, and the Homes and Settlements and Climate events on Saturday 22 May.

    Please note: Some speakers are candidates in the city and county elections on 6 May. They have been invited to speak as as holders of the positions cited prior to the elections.

    Planning for Our Future: How can we ensure good growth?

    Saturday 15 May 10.00 am – 12.15 pm

    This session will consider the big picture – the strategic options for the city and county over the next decades and the levels of growth linked to these options. It will start with a presentation from Oxford Civic Society setting out our analysis of the current situation.  Speakers are:

    • Ian Green, Chair, Oxford Civic Society
    • Hugh Ellis, Policy Director, Town and Country Planning Association
    • Helen Marshall, Director, Oxfordshire CPRE
    • Alex Hollingsworth, city councillor and city council representative on the Oxfordshire 2050 Plan, Oxfordshire Growth Board Sub-group
    • Chair: Sir Clive Booth, President, Oxford Civic Society

    Planning for Our Future: Transport and travel

    Saturday 15 May 1.15 pm – 3.40 pm

    travel to work mapThis session will focus on how transport planning must be an essential part of the wider planning agenda and focus on the proposed Oxfordshire Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP) and the best ways forward. Speakers are:

    • Peter Headicar, Special Advisor, Oxford Civic Society
    • Lynda Addison OBE, former Chair of Transport Planning Society & CIHT Sustainable Transport Panel
    • Alison Hill, Chair, Cyclox
    • Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council, Cabinet Member for the Environment
    • Chair: Jonathan Scheele, Oxford Civic Society Transport Group.

    Planning for Our Future: Homes and settlements

    Saturday 22 May 10,00 am – 12.15 pm

    Barton Park aerial photoThis session will examine the current needs and aspirations for new homes and expanded settlements across the county. It will consider these in the wider regional and national context, including the proposals for the ‘Arc’. Speakers are:

    • Peter Thompson, Oxford Civic Society Executive Committee and ex+Chair
    • Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, University of Oxford
    • Richard Harding, CPRE
    • Susan Brown, Leader, Oxford City Council and Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board Housing Sub-group
    • Chair: Gillian Coates, Vice-chair, Oxford Civic Society

    Planning for Our Future: Climate change and the path to Net Zero

    Saturday 22 May 1.15 pm – 3.40 pm

    global temperature mapThe UK has a national ‘net zero carbon’ target for 2050 and all our local councils have set their own goals. This session will look at how Oxfordshire can ‘meet or beat’ the 2050 target, and at how planning for net zero can help overcome the challenges we face. Speakers are:

    • Chris Church, Oxford Civic Society Executive Committee
    • Professor Nick Eyre, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
    • Barbara Hammond, CEO, Low Carbon Hub
    • Emily Smith, Leader, Vale of White Horse D.C. and Chair, Oxfordshire Growth Board
    • Chair: Ian Green, Chair, Oxford Civic Society


    The debates are free to all but registration is required via Eventbrite. The debates will be hosted on Zoom; the relevant links will be sent by email shortly before the start of each event.

    To register for all four events together please use this link:

    To register for one or more individual events please use these links:

Members-only Walks and Visits

Due to Coronavirus restrictions we are not currently offering any walks and visits.

Open talks — all welcome

The remaining talks-by-webinar of our Winter season and the new programme for the Spring are below. Registration information will be available shortly before each event. Members will receive a link in an e-bulletin, but if you mislay that information please contact Non-members are welcome to join these talks and should contact to request the registration link. Both members and non-members may also register via Eventbrite; using this option you will receive an email with the link to join the meeting on the afternoon of the meeting itself.

We have prepared a simple guide to registering and taking part in these webinars which you can read here.

You can watch videos of earlier webinars on our YouTube channel.

  • Finding Nemon – a distinguished Oxford sculptor

    Tuesday 18 May 8pm

    Aurelia YoungThe renowned sculptor Oscar Nemon created busts of many world figures and was befriended by Churchill in the years following the Second World War. Aurelia Young will recount the story of her father’s life and his work, latterly at Boar’s Hill.

    Eventbrite link:

  • How can Oxford achieve net zero CO2 emissions?

    Tuesday 8 June 8pm

    Nick EyreNational and local government commitments to net zero CO2 emissions have major implications for energy, transport and heating. Professor Nick Eyre, recently appointed as Scientific Adviser to Oxford City Council, will consider what needs to be done locally, what progress is being made and what more needs to be done.

    Eventbrite link:

  • RSPB Otmoor – an incredible wetland oasis

    Thursday 1 July 8pm

    View of OtmoorOtmoor is one of Oxfordshire’s greatest conservation success stories. Discover from David Wilding, the Otmoor Reserve Site Manager, how the RSPB has “transformed boring arable fields into an incredible wetland oasis in the heart of England”. Former wheat fields are now home to an impressive range of wetland species including bittern, marsh harrier and drumming snipe.

    Eventbrite link: