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Church of England proposes 9,000 new homes on its excess land


The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said the Church of England (CoE) could use excess land to develop up to 9,000 homes.

A report, produced by CoE investment fund managers the Church Commissioners, found 60 sites with a combined total of 2,670 ha that could be used to build up to 9,000 new homes, 2,500 of which would be classified as affordable.

According to the AJ’s sister title Construction News, the document also suggested a further 40,468 ha of Church-owned surplus land that could potentially be put forward to be used in the future to develop more affordable housing.

The report features seven case studies of housing projects across England in varying stages of development, which the CoE has already embarked on.

The church is working with contractors and the Greater London Authority in Chelmsford, as well as on the development of 16 church sites in Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering, which will see the construction of 600 affordable homes.

Welby said: ’Britain’s housing crisis is one of the major challenges facing this country – and it is hitting the poorest the hardest. While there is already significant work being done to find solutions, the church has something unique to contribute.”

Other leaders of the commission include Charlie Arbuthnot, a specialist advisor on financing social housing, and the Bishop of Kensington Graham Tomlin, who was involved in activism after the Grenfell tower disaster.

In a foreword to the report, Tomlin said: ’The Grenfell Tower disaster became almost at once a symbol of our country’s housing crisis. The church – working with other public, private and voluntary organisations that share this vision – has a significant contribution to make in this area.

’We have land and resources that can be used to help meet the need for more affordable housing. We have social capital that can be used to uphold people’s right to a decent and secure home.’

The Church Commissioners group has invested approximately £525million into housing to date.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Why not make that 9000 affordable home? Why such a pathetic proportion out of the whole ( 2500 ) Does this mean the Cof E are hoping to make a nice profit out of the Housing Crisi too by making 6500 'un"affordable homes.

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  • The same could be said of TfL's plans (with their developer partner) for all their bits of London wasteland - but the usual excuse is that the high cost of the land makes it necessary to build a (usually high) proportion of expensive houses to enable the rest to be affordable.
    How this philosophy works in the case of the C of E and of TfL is surely worth close questioning.

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  • John Kellett

    Most market towns that are growing and have declining retail presence in their centres are constructed mostly of 2 and 3 storey buildings that are perfectly structurally capable of being added to and/or repurposed to uses other than retail without a need to extend into agricultural land. However that is not happening despite that much of the housing shortage could be addressed by such thinking. It has also been proved several times in different parts of the planet that providing homes for the homeless for free is cost effective and along with universal income gets rid of poverty of many kinds.
    It doesn’t happen ONLY because the rich and powerful won’t benefit from it. The CofE need to prove that they are not part of the rich and powerful cliche by making better (not necessarily less profitable) use of their plentiful resources.

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  • I wonder what is meant by the term 'excess land'? Little bits of green space? Large bits of green space?

    Green space generally is never 'excess', it is valuable ecologically, and for mental wellbeing. Does anyone really want to see the country covered in nasty, badly designed little boxes?

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