Archbishop of Canterbury backs Roehampton academic’s work on improving faith group-council relations

The Archbishop of Canterbury has given his backing to recommendations created by a University of Roehampton academic to improve relations between religious groups and the local government planning system.

Posted: 16 October 2015

image for news story Archbishop of Canterbury backs Roehampton academic’s work on improving faith group-council relations
Dr Andrew Rogers from the University of Roehampton, whose work has been supported by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The 15 recommendations were drawn up by Dr Andrew Rogers from Roehampton’s Department of Humanities, together with Dr Richard Gale from Cardiff University, as a result of a year’s research through the Faith and Place Network. They were launched at the House of Commons on Thursday 15 October.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby said: “I welcome this report from the Faith and Place Network, which highlights the challenges faced by a diverse and growing number of faith communities seeking places for worship. These challenges are particularly acute for migrant faith communities, for whom worshipping in their own tradition both supports community life and affirms identity. We must heed the strong biblical imperative for us to welcome the stranger and to treat them and love them like ourselves.”

Among the 15 recommendations in the Faith and Place Network's full report were:

  • Faith groups should take a more active involvement in the development of council Local Plans to ensure their views are included in the consultation process.
  • Councils should review data on planning applications to ascertain whether refusals are above average from faith groups and take appropriate action if required.
  • Councils should prioritise protecting space for social infrastructure, including places of worship.
  • Greater use of section 106 funding from developers for creation of buildings suitable for use as places of worship.

The Archbishop continued: “I am pleased that the Faith and Place Network is advocating better understanding across those groups for whom this is a key issue: on the part of local authorities of the practices and needs of faith communities; within faith communities about the planning system; and, crucially, between faith communities. Understanding one another is essential in building the trust and confidence in which these challenges can be addressed.”

He commended the work which the network had carried out both to faith communities and to council planners and encouraged them to engage seriously with the recommendations.

The Faith and Place Network comprised 51 members including council planning directors, representatives of the Royal Town Planning Institute, developers and consultants, as well as senior church leaders, ministers, representatives of the Church Commissioners and academics.

The network’s activities have been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. You can read the full briefing here

Dr Andrew Rogers is principal lecturer in practical theology and programme convenor for Ministerial Theology degrees within the Department of Humanities.

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