Over 30 years ago, The Topsham Society published what has proved to be a very popular ‘Account of the Streets and Buildings of Topsham’. This book, with strip illustrations of the buildings drawn by Caroline Oboussier has been updated and extended. It continues to be a valuable way of disseminating information about the quality and character of buildings in the Town. Copies are available – see Publications.

In responding to new development proposals, we encourage sympathetic improvements to the submitted plans. In support of this, in 2005 we initiated a scheme which we call the ‘Enhancing Topsham Awards’. These awards recognise and celebrate new developments and projects which enhance and improve our town and have played a positive part in our efforts to promote high standards in planning and architecture.

Other areas of activity include planting trees and caring for open areas; organising guided town walks; a programme of talks and visits detailed in the Activities section of this website; and the annual award of The Topsham School Cup for a piece of writing, poetry, painting or collage by schoolchildren attending Topsham School.

Working towards our objectives:

The following is the basis for the work of the Committee and sets the scene for members as to why we do certain things and why we refer other matters to the other community groups in the town.

To promote high standards of planning and architecture:

The initiative to develop a Design Statement falls within this objective and the Society will maintain such a document, updated at regular intervals. In preparing an updated statement the Society will take a view based on discussions with the planning authorities and the provisions of the Local Plan. It will consult with members and the population of Topsham as a whole before finalising the document. The Design Statement (or Townscape Review) will provide guidance to the Committee when responding to planning applications. It will be recommended to any person wishing to build or make alterations to a property who seeks guidance before a formal planning application.

To inform the public:

The Society arranges a programme of talks throughout the autumn and winter and seeks speakers of high quality to address the second objective. The extension of subject matter to a wider area than Topsham is considered appropriate as part of the understanding of the historical setting of the town.

The Society has a programme of guided walks in the Conservation Area of the town during the summer months. These walks are scheduled to run twice per week at fixed times on a “turn up and walk” basis or by prior agreement at other times for groups visiting the town.

Planning matters:

The Society has a sub-committee which reviews planning applications in the town. In addition, we are often asked to comment on proposals at the pre-application stage. When we do this we examine the proposals against the framework of the Local Plan and Design Statement guidelines and seek to maintain and enhance the quality and standards of planning and design in the town. Where appropriate, we offer comments to the applicant or planning authority suggesting modifications to the design of proposals and/ or advising on planning conditions which may make them acceptable; but where necessary we will recommend that consent should be withheld. Feedback is sought on any application for which the decision made is contrary to our views.

Preservation and protection:

The Society also reviews from time to time the status of buildings and structures within the town to raise with the appropriate bodies the use of listed status to protect them. It makes formal application for listing as appropriate.

The Enhancing Topsham Award, a competition held annually to recognise works which contribute to the townscape, makes awards based on nominations from members and others. It recognises all the parties involved in the winning developments, which may have a social as well as a structural element to them.


The Society offers annual and life membership to individuals who support its objectives. However, the programmes and activities which support our objectives are intended for the benefit of Topsham; participation in consultation exercises and educational activities is not limited to members.

Joint representation on issues affecting the town:

The Society works with other representative groups in the town, most notably the Topsham Community Association and the Museum Society, to address issues in which those other groups have an interest. This is particularly relevant in matters affecting the community and the life of the town.


The principal printed document produced by the Society is the Design Statement/Townscape Review. However, the book, Topsham: An Account of its Streets and Buildings, written by Caroline Oboussier, has been published by the Society as a comprehensive record of the town’s architecture. Any proposed publication contributing to the historic record of the town would be sympathetically considered for publication.