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Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Churches should not miss the chance to be part of the local plan

7th Jun 2018

With 300,000 new homes estimated to be built in Essex and East London over the next 20 years a Church of England Regeneration Adviser is urging clergy and church-goers to get involved in local authority plans.

“It is vital for churches to get involved in consultations on local plans at the earliest stage,” argues Carol Richards, Mission in Regeneration Adviser with Chelmsford Diocese.

“Churches have a significant role in providing activities to meet community needs from toddlers through every stage of life. But local planning authorities often omit to mention places of worship in their plans.

“If clergy and church-goers don’t mention churches, who will? I am advising church people to respond to the consultation on the local plan as individuals. This is because every response counts but a response from a church group only counts as a single response."

The National Planning Policy Framework takes a positive view of places of worship.  It states that local plans should aim to keep and develop these as part of sustaining healthy communities where people can live well. The Garden City principles make it clear that residents should be able to walk to places of worship.

“The local plan is not exactly an action-packed novel to read on the beach but it contains lots of really useful information. Don’t let the planning jargon put you off,“ Carol says.

“It is hardly surprising that clergy and church-goers have so much to contribute to local authority plans given they live in the local area 24/7.”

Carol’s latest advice, Planning Matters - How churches can be involved in plans for new housing areas can be downloaded from our regeneration web page.

More information

Carol Richards is the Mission in Regeneration Adviser of Chelmsford Diocese - the Church of England In Essex and East London.

Carol also serves as a Reader (or local lay Minister) in the parish of St John with Christ Church in Stratford, London E15.

Chelmsford Diocese is working towards helping successful churches plant new churches in the new housing areas of Barking Riverside, Beam Park in Havering, Beaulieu in Chelmsford, and Colchester North and West in a project supported by the Church Commissioners.

Image: Carol Richards.