Perspectives report

The Faith and Place network met for the first time at The Royal Foundation of St Katharine on 4th December 2014. The report below summarises the key themes and discussions of the day.

1.             Introduction

1.1          The purpose of the first event of the Faith and Place Network was to explore, from a diversity of perspectives, the interrelations between faith, place and the politics of planning. Above all, it placed emphasis on exploring accounts from faith community representatives, planners and policy professionals, to begin teasing out the hidden histories and current realities surrounding the faith, place and planning nexus. This was a significant first step towards achieving the network goals, both to bring together participants from a range of faith, planning and professional backgrounds and to produce policy relevant guidance on religious space and planning practice.

1.2          This report attempts to capture and synthesise the rich variety of themes that were explored throughout the presentations and discussions that made up the Perspectives event, and in turn, to provide network participants with a platform on which to build in the subsequent network events. The various sections below are our attempt to organise the key ideas articulated by network members, according to the over-arching topics and themes that emerged throughout the day. Continue reading Perspectives report

Faith and Place network members speak out on planning issues

A number of Faith and Place network members have contributed to recent press stories about noise pollution. Yemi Adedeji, of the One People Commission, and Dr Andrew Rogers, University of Roehampton, spoke to the planning issues faced by new black majority churches for the December 2014 – January 2015 edition of Environmental Health News (EHN) (subscription only). Entitled ‘Peace on Earth’, the piece addresses issues around ‘noise pollution’ and planning more broadly, identifying a number of good practice cases.

A Sunday Times article on 21st December 2014 (today) takes a less eirenic tone, headlined ‘“St Boombox” ruins silent nights‘. Largely focussing on noise issues for new black majority churches, it nevertheless quotes from Ade Amooba, Danny Webster and Dr Andrew Rogers on the growth of new black majority churches and their exuberant worship, as well as the need to review planning policy for such minority faith groups.

“Places of worship most potent at mixing people from different social classes and races”

Recent research by the Social Integration Commission has identified churches and other places of worship as more successful than any other social setting at bringing people of different backgrounds together. This is ahead of gatherings such as parties, meetings or venues such as pubs and clubs. The caveat is that spectator sports were the most successful at bringing people of different ages together.

Reported in the Sunday Telegraph on 7/12/14,  the chair of the Commission said:

“Institutions play a huge role in determining how and with whom we interact. Our research shows that, perhaps contrary to perceived wisdom, activities such as attending a place of worship or a sporting event can bring people from all sorts of backgrounds together.

“These institutions could play a leading role in promoting social integration. Sporting and religious bodies should explore what more they can do to help build a better integrated society.”

You won’t find these points about places of worship and social integration in the downloadable reports by the Commission, but they have sent the Faith and Place network some of their data sets, as such a finding resonates with themes raised at our first Perspectives event.

New £15 million fund for urgent roof repairs to listed places of worship

One of our Faith and Place network members, Anthony Collins solicitors, drew our attention to the roof repair fund of £15 million announced by the Chancellor on 3rd December.

This is available to congregations of all faiths and denominations who are responsible for maintaining a listed building. Grants of between £10,000 to £100,000 are available, with an application deadline of 30th January 2015. See the The Listed Places of Worship Roof Repaid Fund website for further details.

Experiencing new black majority churches with Tate Modern – Sunday Service project video

One of our Perspectives speakers on 4th December, Synthia Griffin, Curator of Regeneration and Community Partnerships at Tate Modern, spoke of the Sunday Service project carried out for Tate Modern by photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews. The project draws on parallels between the former industrial use of the museum and the industrial unit locations of many new churches in the same borough (Southwark).

Chloe’s work explores the dynamics of new black majority churches in the borough, with a particular focus on the juxtaposition between the industrial exterior and the emotionally engaged vibrant community within the walls of the churches. An exhibition of the project at the Tate earlier this year is due to be followed up by another in Peckham in 2015. Watch the project video  HERE.


First network event – Perspectives

Thursday 4th December 2014 saw 26 delegates attend the inaugural meeting of the Faith and Place network at the Royal Foundation of Saint Katharine in East London.

Many thanks to all the delegates from a wide variety of professional and academic backgrounds who made it such a stimulating day. Particular thanks are due to our 14 speakers who provided a rich and diverse set of Perspectives on faith, place and planning: Alastair Cutting, Simon Bevan, Nairita Chakraborty, Shahed Saleem, Richard Blyth, Mustafa Field, Mary Anderson, Olatunji Adebayo, Robert Wickham, Synthia Griffin, R David Muir, Anne Kubai, Felix Asare and Marcel Maussen.

Videos of the talks will be available on this website very soon.