Planning for Religious Diversity in Wales

Network leaders Richard Gale and Andrew Rogers have been leading a series of Faith and Place Dialogues in the Welsh context, with support from RTPI Cymru and Planning Aid Wales. The background to these events is that religious diversity has been increased substantially in Wales in recent decades, leading to a growing need among some groups for designated spaces in which to congregate and worship. Although crude, data from recent censuses give some indication of the scale of this change. For example, in the decade between the 2001 and 2011 Censuses, all non-Christian religious groups grew in Wales, with Buddhists increasing by 69 percent (from 5,407 to 9,117), Hindus by 92 percent (from 5,439 to 10,434), Muslims by 111 percent (from 21,739 to 45,950), Sikhs by 47 percent (from 2,015 to 2,962) and ‘Other non-Christian’ groups by 84 percent (from 6,909 to 12,705). In addition, while the Christian population fell overall by 16 percent (from 2.09 million to 1.8 million), this masks significant growth in the presence of Black Christian groups, with African Caribbean Christians growing by 39 percent (from 1,810 to 2,513) and African Christians growing by 346 percent (from 1,662 to 7,406). Currently, non-Christian faith groups make up 2.7 percent of the Welsh population, an increase from 1.5 percent in 2001.

These trends are likely to continue for some while into the future, and present important challenges for planners. As such there is a growing need to explore how relationships between planners and faith groups play out in the Welsh context. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), these events are drawing together Welsh Government officers, local government planners, faith group representatives, interfaith organisations and academics. The events seek to promote knowledge exchange, networking and ongoing dialogue between key stakeholders and to embed the Welsh version of the FPN Policy Briefing, ‘Faith Groups and the Planning System’.

Three events are taking place in total, in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea, which between them accounted for 64 percent of the overall growth in the non-Christian religious presence in Wales between 2001 and 2011. The final event takes place in Cardiff on Thursday 24th January.  A final report on the project will be submitted to event participants and the Welsh Government in Spring 2019.

Network leaders shortlisted for RTPI award

Dr Richard Gale and Dr Andrew Rogers, co-leaders of the Faith and Place network, have been shortlisted for the RTPI Awards for Research Excellence 2018. Based on a portfolio of work by Gale and Rogers both individually and collaboratively, Gale commented “That’s made my day!” The ceremony takes place in Sheffield on 3rd September – watch this space for the results.

Faith Groups and meeting places in LBBD

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The report on Faith Groups and meeting places in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham is now out! This is the product of a research project led by CAG Consultants in association with network leaders Dr Richard Gale (Cardiff University) and Dr Andrew Rogers (University of Roehampton), and Land Use Consultants (LUC).

The report developed profiles of LBBD principal faith communities, audited existing places of worship and other faith facilities, and carried out a needs assessment of faith facilities projecting forward to 2050. Innovative projections methodology allowed the project to calculate future need in terms of square metres (38, 400). This large amount reflects the substantial growth planned in the borough by 2050 and the substantial demand in the borough for religious meeting places. Do read to find out more!

          

Guide for Churches being developed

Network member, Danny Webster (right), has been leading a project at the Evangelical Alliance to produce a guide for churches that addresses questions of property and planning. The project investigator is retired solicitor, Kevin Ashman (left), and is also co-led by Yemi Adedeji (centre), director of the One People Commission. On 21st June 2018, a group of church leaders, property professionals and network co-leader, Dr Andrew Rogers, met at the EA HQ to discuss the draft guide. The finished work is due in November 2018 – news of this will be posted here!

Heritage of Minority Faith Buildings

Historic England are running a day conference at the Society of Antiquaries on Monday 12th March (click here for full details).  Organised by network member, Dr Linda Monckton, many other Faith and Place network members will be contributing, including Dr Clare Canning, Dr Jasjit Singh, Dr Andrew Rogers, Nairita Chakraborty, Shahed Saleem and Dr Richard Gale. The grand finale of the day is the launch of Shahed Saleem’s book, The British Mosque.

Planning for Religious Diversity in Wales

Dr Richard Gale, network co-leader, has recently been awarded impact funds by the ESRC for a project entitled “Planning for Religious Diversity in Wales: Towards a Faith and Place Knowledge Exchange Network”. The project will run three public engagement events called Faith and Place dialogues in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea during 2018. These events will be draw on the Faith and Place network policy briefing recommendations (see Downloads), to promote networking, knowlege exchange and an ongoing dialogue between Welsh Government, local authority planners and faith group representatives around the faith, place and planning nexus. The project is partnered by RTPI Cymru and Planning Aid Wales.

Signs of Wonder

Faith and Place network members, Dr Andrew Rogers and Dr Richard Burgess, have received funding from Southlands Methodist Trust to investigate the iconography and aesthetics of black majority churches in a London borough. Entitled “Signs of Wonder”, the project reflects on the theologies embedded in their signboards, banners, architecture, websites and media products. Dr Mark Minott, the lead fieldworker, has just completed photographing churches and interviewing pastors about the meanings and narratives associated with these signs. Watch this space for further updates later this year!