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Churches Gp for New Housing Areas Mtg 19.06.132windows

This is a popular report of the meeting held at the office of Churches Together in England between members of the Group and Guests. The guests were pioneer ministers in new housing areas and network officers who support them. The meeting was a ‘Listening’ Day for group members to hear about projects and networks at a local level, with an opportunity for people to meet and consider issues of common concern. 

Guests were: Ali Boulton Baptist, Swindon; Philippa Mills, CofE Whiteley; David Rees, Bath and Wells diocese; Clive Skeates, Waterlooville; Gary Hoare, Methodist Yeovil; Tim Aho plus 2 colleagues, Churches of Christ, Solihull; Tim Woods, Devenport; Penny Marsh, Baptist North Kent; and David Clare, Habitat for Humanity.

Churches Gp members: Simon Taylor, moderator; James Cassidy RC; Simon Ellis URC; James Langstaff Housing Justice; Carol Richards, regional networks, Steve Williams, research; Jim Currin secretary.

Meeting the Minister follow up. In preparation for the meeting we had read the Press Release of 4 Group members meeting with Mark Prisk, the Minister for Housing. We considered our reply to Mr Prisk's follow up letter.

Tim Aho's Case Study. Tim provided a case study from his 18 years work with the Churches of Christ at Dickens Heath, Solihull. Tim was joined by two interns from America studying 'church planting' and it was interesting hearing his reflection. Lots of community events like BBQ's, lighting a Christmas tree, Children's Holiday Clubs and even an orchestra on the Green went well. Church was established in a school, but Tim felt lessons had been learnt, eg difficult to get volunteers in an area of private housing; too much focus and time given to planning church worship; missed opportunity with land that now has a village hall and flats to finance it; keeping the church mission focussed; few people attending church from the development etc.

David Clare and 'Habitat for Humanity'. HfH is an initiative that brings together corporate sponsors, formal partnerships, community volunteers in an initiative aimed at providing small scale affordable housing. Sometimes these are in regeneration areas and other examples are new housing. David reflected on the context in England being harder than in other parts of the world where HfH operate. Particular factors are land cost, planning issues, and the cost of contractors to build, even when local volunteer support is part of the project.
Sharing stories

All guests shared their story and some common concerns and points of interest emerged which included:
  • Challenge of getting involved in the planning process early enough
  • Benefit of working together in partnerships eg churches and community groups
  • Importance of building relationships with schools and Local Authorities
  • Networking provides unexpected benefits, even sometimes land or building use
  • Affordable housing is being provided with various models of integration with private
  • Different messages about 'stalled' developments, but movement is happening
  • Few people seem to know about the 'Neighbourhood Planning' process
 Follow up
  1. Replying to the Minister for Housing after the meeting, press Release and the Minister's letter to us.
  2. General leaflet for the churches to get involved in the 'Neighbourhood Planning' process
  3. Annual gathering of network people and pioneer ministers
Network day in Swindon 28th September
Ali Boulton spoke of the interest other church leaders had in the story behind her work, to the extent that she is inviting anyone interested to a day on site in Swindon. Ali writes about the day here. The link for info is

Tim Aho, Ali Boulton and Simon Taylor, the group moderator were kind to prvide a video interview. These are being processed and will be avilable here soon.

Ben Aldous is secretary to the group and the meeting


Jim Currin, 26/06/2013
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