With 300,000 new homes estimated to be built in Essex and East London over the next 20 years, and many more in the West Midlands and across the nation, Carol Richards is advising church-goers to get involved in local authority plans.
Carol is a member of the Churches Group for New Housing Areas of Churches Together in England, and has written about how churches can be involved with the new housing agenda re the Local Plan. It was written for the website of the Diocese of Chelmsford in which she is the Mission in Regeneration Adviser, and the resource document is applicable for all churches and Churches Together groups. Carol says
“It is vital for churches to get involved in consultations on local plans at the earliest stage. Churches have a significant role in providing activities to meet community needs from toddlers through every stage of life. But local planning authorities often omit to mention places of worship in their plans. If clergy and church-goers don’t mention churches, who will? I am advising church people to respond to the consultation on the local plan as individuals. This is because every response counts but a response from a church group only counts as a single response.”
The National Planning Policy Framework takes a positive view of places of worship. It states that local plans should aim to keep and develop these as part of sustaining healthy communities where people can live well. The Garden City principles make it clear that residents should be able to walk to places of worship.
“The local plan is not exactly an action-packed novel to read on the beach but it contains lots of really useful information. Don’t let the planning jargon put you off. It is hardly surprising that clergy and church-goers have so much to contribute to local authority plans given they live in the local area 24/7.”
Carol’s advice accompanies the resource document, ‘Planning Matters – How churches can be involved in plans for new housing areas’ can be downloaded from the regeneration web page of the website for the Diocese of Chelmsford.
Adapted from CTE News, July 2018 (Churches Together in England)