Success for seven pioneering churches! The chance to tackle a housing crisis…

30 JUN 2020

A £22,250 grant from Allchurches Trust is funding a groundbreaking pilot which will enable churches to support people struggling to get a foot on the property ladder.

Churches hoping to help people priced out of the housing market and unable to find a suitable home will be given specialist support to take forward their plans to use church land and buildings for low-cost housing.
Architectural and legal advice will help churches to navigate the planning system; and tips on fundraising will be provided by LivShare housing consultants to seven churches across the country through Innovative Built Solutions for Churches, a pilot scheme run by The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community, and made possible with Allchurches Trust funding.
If successful, the projects could act as a blueprint for churches of all denominations, who are seeking to convert spare land and buildings into housing to support their community.

Jeremy Noles, Grants and Relationships Manager for Allchurches Trust, said: “This is an exciting pilot project that will not only provide homes to local families and some of the most vulnerable people in these communities, but also impart learnings that will enable other churches to follow in the footsteps of these pioneers. There is an opportunity for churches to be at the heart of providing affordable housing to those who need it most, making them even more relevant and important to local needs as they fulfil both their practical and spiritual needs.” 

The pioneering churches
Blackburn Cathedral and St Edward the Confessor Church in Mottingham, south east London, are to receive support from LivShare to support them in plans to help tackle the housing crisis and strengthen communities in the process.
The Cathedral and the church were among the seven winners of the Innovative Built Solutions competition. This competition was aimed at church projects that are at a relatively early stage in their development – when there are the highest risks of failure. Each church will be offered four days of support from LivShare Consulting, including help with harnessing the support of potential funders and partner organisations. It was open to churches of all denominations.
Blackburn Cathedral will receive advice on seeking investors for the redevelopment of its old diocesan offices, next door to the Cathedral, into accommodation for refugees, asylum seeker families and single people. 
Revd Canon Dr Rowena Pailing, Vice Dean of the Cathedral and Canon Missioner, said: “The Cathedral is very close to the offices and this would mean that people in these homes would be living next door to an existing Christian community and all that would bring in terms of fellowship and support.”
Blackburn Cathedral community
Blackburn Cathedral community
St Edward the Confessor Church is aiming to redevelop its hall to provide up to 25 affordable flats, on top of a modernised hall to host the many community activities run by the church and other local groups. It also hopes to redevelop its vicarage and attached land to create three to four large family homes. 
Vicar Revd Dr Catherine Shelley, said: “We hope to provide homes for rent both for people who need to downsize, including those affected by the ‘bedroom tax’, as well as families priced out of the London property market.”
The Commission’s vice-chair, The Right Reverend Dr Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington, said: “The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Housing Commission seeks to enable churches to play their part in responding to the housing crisis, while asking the Government and others to work with us to create real change. Throughout history, churches have provided shelter to those who need it – from almshouses to Christian housing associations. The winners of Innovative Built Solutions for Churches will build on this heritage in our day.”
The Commission’s lead for Local Church and Community, Revd Lynne Cullens, said: “It’s been really inspiring to see the imaginative and innovative ways churches are seeking to meet the need for affordable housing in their contexts. 
“We are delighted that this competition has resulted in seven successful exemplar projects being developed across the country and providing for a spectrum of housing need, including refugees and asylum seekers, young people, ex-offenders and those priced out of the housing market by holiday lets.”
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