The report of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, Living with Difference: Community, Diversity and the Common Good, was published on 7th December 2015. One of its key recommendations was as follows:
Much greater religion and belief literacy is needed in every section of society, and at all levels. The potential for misunderstanding, stereotyping and oversimplication based on ignorance is huge. The commission therefore calls on educational and professional bodies to draw up religion and belief literacy programmes and projects, including an annual awards scheme to recognise and celebrate best practice in the media.
This resonates strongly with the Faith and Place network’s policy briefing, especially the first core theme of ‘Understanding One Another’. In it we identify the need for ‘greater understanding and dialogue between local planning authorities and faith groups’, specifically recommendation 1 and 5 as follows:
1. Local planning authorities need to develop greater understanding of how faith groups use space, which includes recognition of the differences between and within faith groups themselves. To facilitate this, specific guidance on how faith groups use space needs to be made available, for example, through supplementary planning documents that reflect the contemporary religious landscape. Generating such guidance may benefit from collaboration with the relevant professional bodies and faith groups.
5. Faith groups also need to have greater understanding of the planning system. This might be facilitated by guides produced by local planning authorities, in collaboration with faith groups and other civil society organisations. These guides should clarify the practicalities of the planning system and also outline how planning policies can be applied to accommodate the needs of faith groups. Such collaboration, as recommended by the RTPI over 30 years ago, should not be a one-way process.
We are now working to see how the network might facilitate greater mutual understanding between faith groups and local planning authorities.
The Faith and Place network policy briefing was featured in the Church Times on 30th October 2015, under the headline ‘Council planners “should embrace faith groups”‘. See the article here.
The Royal Town Planning Institute published its support for the Faith and Place policy briefing on 20th October in The Planner, its official magazine. Kathie Pollard, policy and networks advisor (pictured), said:
“We are very pleased to have been a part of the creation of this paper as it is an incredibly important and timely piece of work which planners and faith communities should engage with.
“It helps planners and decision-makers to make the most well-informed choices to create great places for communities to live, work and play in – including places of worship. We believe that it is a good guide for conversations between faith groups and local authorities on how to use space and to engage in the planning system.”
For the full list of messages of support, see the Support tab.
The Faith and Place network policy briefing was launched at the House of Commons on Thursday 15th October 2015. The evening was opened Stephen Timms MP reflecting on faith and place, followed by the network leaders giving an overview of the briefing recommendations. Responding to the briefing were Mustafa Field MBE (Faiths Forum for London) and Rev Katei Kirby (Ruach City Church). A panel was convened to discuss ways in which the recommendations will be taken forward. Video of the evening will soon be available on the website video tab. Click on the image above to download a copy of the briefing.
The Faith and Place network’s policy briefing, launched on Thursday 15th October at the House of Commons, has already been endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby; the Minister for Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis MP; Mustafa Field MBE of Faiths Forum for London and Dr R David Muir of the National Church Leaders’ Forum.
For full details of the endorsements click here or for details of the launch click here.
The third Faith and Place network meeting takes place next week, Tuesday 30th June to Wednesday 1st July at Grove House, University of Roehampton, SW London. Entitled “Futures”, the symposium aims to finalise a policy briefing addressing critical issues around faith, place and planning for minority faith groups. This will be explored through a panel on religious spatial practices, a set of creative case studies and three keynotes. Videos of the symposium will be available on this website later in the summer. The policy briefing will then be released in the early Autumn.