Faith and Place network leaders, Dr Andrew Rogers and Dr Richard Gale, have recently joined with CAG Consultants and Land Use Consultants to work on a research project with the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Entitled the Religious Meeting Places Project, the research aims to improve understanding of faith group facilities in the borough, both in terms of current provision and usage, as well as looking at future faith facility needs in the borough. The project will also consider the Council’s policy on engagement with faith groups. The Religious Meeting Places Project is due to report by early summer.
If you would like to know more about participating in this project, please call 07902 310690 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
RTPI Scotland have recently published a guest blog post about Faith Groups and the Planning System in Scotland. Paul Ede, a Planning Advisory Service (PAS) volunteer, writes about Clay Community Church in Glasgow and how faith groups can play an active role in place making.
Engaging with our network policy briefing, Paul writes “At their best, faith groups like the planning system steward their energies for the the common good. The concerns of planning are important to faith groups, and the concerns of faith groups are important to planning”. Take a look here.
Somewhat belatedly, Faith and Place network members may be interested in the Religion and the Public Sphere blog from the London School of Economics. As part of the Pentecostalism in Britain series, network co-leader, Dr Andrew Rogers, and network member, Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, have both published pieces on this blog in recent months.
Take a look at “How are black majority churches growing in the UK?” which includes discussion of the network and policy briefing. See also “Pentecostalism in Britain today” which profiles the diversity that exists in British Pentecostalism today.
The Faith and Place network is delighted to announce the publication of our Wales policy briefing this month. You can download an electronic version in English or Welsh here. Dual language print versions are being sent out to local planning authorities and religious organisations in Wales over the next few weeks. The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, had this to say about the July 2016 Wales policy briefing:
Bydd y canllaw hwn yn cael ei groesawu’n fawr, a’i werthfawrogi’n arbennig gan grwpiau ffydd nad ydynt yn ddigon ffodus i gael cefnogaeth adrannau eiddo sefydliadol, yn ogystal â chynllunwyr sy’n ceisio cael dealltwriaeth well o’r anghenion a’r posibiliadau o fewn eu cymunedau.
This guide is very welcome, and will be particularly appreciated by faith groups who are not fortunate enough to be backed up by organisational property departments, and by planners seeking a better understanding of the needs and possibilities within their communities.
For the full message from the Archbishop, click here.
The network leaders, Andrew and Richard, visited Sweden at the end of February 2016 to examine how Faith and Place issues are configured in some Swedish contexts. Hosted by network member, Dr Anne Kubai of Uppsala University, we visited churches and mosques in Uppsala and Stockholm, with Anne providing rich contextual detail en route.
We spent time with the pastor of a historic Pentecostal church in Uppsala (Pingstkyrkan) with its own premises and restaurant next door, then headed off to a large ecumenical church in Stockholm (Immanuelskyrkan) which was partnered with a hotel, also next door. Sunday saw us at a Turkish mosque in an outer suburb of Stockholm for most of the day, receiving a very warm welcome, where we witnessed prayers, talked with members and interviewed the imam. Interspersed with our time at the mosque was a visit to an African majority church nearby that shared its premises with many other congregations. Interviewing Pastor Sam of Hallundakyrkan helped us to see how issues for some migrant groups in Stockholm at least were not so different from other European urban centres. We took away pictures, impressions, observations and interviews that we will be reflecting on further in our writing about faith and place, both the resonances and dissonances across the UK and Europe.
Faith and Place network member, Richard Blyth, head of policy and practice at the Royal Town Planning Institute, recently talked to the Public Sector Executive magazine about the Faith and Place network and our policy briefing. As a result the publication contacted FPN network leaders to explain the briefing recommendations further and how these were being followed up. The article was published on the 16th December 2015 – read it here.
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.