Chester Association of Property Professionals
This month, Chester Association of Property Professionals (CAPP) committee member, architect Dan Thorpe, discusses the role that the Church of England is playing in tackling the housing crisis.
Along with many organisations responding to the current need for affordable housing, it isn’t common knowledge that the Church of England is playing their part in response to providing high quality, realistically affordable housing.
In 2021, the Church of England published its report: Coming Home – Tackling the housing crisis together. This independent report, prepared by the Archbishops’ Commission on Housing, Church and Community, lays out a positive vision for housing centred on its five core values that good housing should be: sustainable, safe, stable, sociable and satisfying.
The decline in church attendance has been well-documented, however, the importance of the role that the Church of England could play in tackling the housing crisis is unquestionable.
The Church of England owns substantial land and buildings, which given the nature of how villages and towns have historically developed, are located at the very heart of our communities. With an infrastructure and local amenities already centrally in place, these sites are potentially perfect for creating affordable housing.
In his foreword to the report, Archbishop Justin Welby writes that the Church of England has a major role to play. He said: “This means putting our land and other resources to good use and delivering social and environmental benefits” and continues “including new housing developments that align with our five core values.”
So, is this just another report that remains unactioned and ultimately archived away? Having worked with dioceses in the North West, I don’t believe so.
Given the work the Church of England has achieved in the last two years addressing legal and institutional barriers, mapping owned land and buildings, and developing relationships with Government and housing partners, the Church is committed to seeing this through.
Alongside the imminent formation of its own centralised Housing Association, the Church is encouraging dioceses and parishes to consider church-led action as a key priority in delivering local solutions within their communities.
Through its own Housing Association and partnerships with other providers, the Church of England’s role in tackling the housing crisis has the potential to deliver high quality much-needed affordable homes. Approaching this with a ‘developer mindset’, retaining assets and managing its portfolio, should allow for long term investment to support the growth of vibrant churches impacting their communities.
Cassidy + Ashton