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.
A very happy new year to all our website visitors! Just to let you know that videos of the Faith and Place Futures speakers from July 2015 are now on the website here. Videos of the policy briefing launch at the House of Commons in October 2015 are now also available on the website here. The above samples are of Stephen Timms MP speaking at the House of Commons launch and secondly of participants at the very warm Futures symposium.
The other news is that our funding council have agreed to extend the Faith and Place network until February 2016, largely to enable the network leaders to complete remaining network tasks, in particular disseminating the briefing to all local planning authorities in England and further developing our European connections.
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.