Public Sector Focus

16.12.15

A place for faith in the planning system

Source: PSE Dec/Jan 16

Richard Blyth, head of policy practice and research at the Royal Town Planning Institute, talks to PSE about the opportunities and challenges for faith groups in the planning system.

Town planners have given their backing to a research briefing which calls for more understanding and dialogue between local planning authorities and faith groups. 

The Faith and Place Network’s (FPN’s) paper ‘Faith Groups and the Planning System’ addresses five policy areas: Understanding one another, Community, Equality & Diversity, Sharing good practice and the Planning Framework. 

Fifteen recommendations were made in the report, ranging from protecting space for social infrastructure, including places of worship; faith groups taking a more active role in the development of Local Plans; and that section 106 funding could be used to support the provision of places of worship. 

Richard Blyth, head of policy practice and research at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), who contributed to the FPN’s work, told us the paper is aimed at multiple audiences, but ultimately could affect the way planning decisions are made by offering more insight into “specific behaviour patterns” and “how a faith group actually functions”. Its recommendations include delivering more specific guidance, which could come from local planning authorities working with faith groups. The RTPI has backed this idea for some time, and the faith group representatives, academics, local authority planners, RTPI representatives and other policy professionals who make up the FPN are keen to develop the recommendations further. 

Dr Andrew Rogers from the University of Roehampton’s Department of Humanities and Dr Richard Gale from Cardiff University, who drew up the recommendations, told PSE that when the paper was launched, many local authority representatives wanted to spread the briefing within their organisations. 

Dr Rogers told PSE: “In particular, we want to facilitate development of the ‘dossier of creative practice case studies’ and explore generating a network of faith group leaders with experience of engaging with the planning system. 

“In addition, faith, place and planning issues are not just a UK issue, but are keenly felt across a range of European cities, as some of our international network members have recounted. We want to further establish the European network links to benefit from sharing creative practice across European urban contexts.” 

Their work is funded through an AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) grant.  The grant only runs to February 2016, but the researchers are seeking follow-on funding for the next stage of the work. 

Blyth noted that the RTPI will also look to implement some of the recommendations. For instance, the organisation is reviewing its Code of Conduct, ensuring that “all groups are treated equally”. 

However, producing guides by local planning authorities is going to take time. “You may be aware, in other news, that the financial circumstance of local planning authorities is pretty desperate,” said Blyth. “One of the political issues around this is that we have these good ideas, but they come out against a background where some local authorities are having to cut down what they do to the very bare statutory minimum.” 

The paper does not imply that addressing faith spaces and the planning system will be easy, but it has started the debate. It has also received the backing of housing minister, Brandon Lewis MP, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and other faith leaders. Dr Rogers said: “The role of the network is to make connections around faith, place and planning issues. Therefore the FPN will seek to catalyse the process of developing guides for faith groups and planners, drawing in the relevant professional bodies and faith groups, and building on the links we have established through the network. 

“We anticipate that the support and endorsement of the RTPI will lead to further positive responses from local authority organisations. Similarly, the recently published report from the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life calls for greater religious literacy in all areas of British public life – lending further support and weight to our specific conclusions around better mutual understanding between faith groups and local planning authorities.”

Town planners have given their backing to a research briefing which calls for more understanding and dialogue between local planning authorities and faith groups. 

The Faith and Place Network’s (FPN’s) paper ‘Faith Groups and the Planning System’ addresses five policy areas: Understanding one another, Community, Equality & Diversity, Sharing good practice and the Planning Framework. 

Fifteen recommendations were made in the report, ranging from protecting space for social infrastructure, including places of worship; faith groups taking a more active role in the development of Local Plans; and that section 106 funding could be used to support the provision of places of worship. 

Richard Blyth, head of policy practice and research at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), who contributed to the FPN’s work, told us the paper is aimed at multiple audiences, but ultimately could affect the way planning decisions are made by offering more insight into “specific behaviour patterns” and “how a faith group actually functions”. Its recommendations include delivering more specific guidance, which could come from local planning authorities working with faith groups. The RTPI has backed this idea for some time, and the faith group representatives, academics, local authority planners, RTPI representatives and other policy professionals who make up the FPN are keen to develop the recommendations further. 

Dr Andrew Rogers from the University of Roehampton’s Department of Humanities and Dr Richard Gale from Cardiff University, who drew up the recommendations, told PSE that when the paper was launched, many local authority representatives wanted to spread the briefing within their organisations. 

Dr Rogers told PSE: “In particular, we want to facilitate development of the ‘dossier of creative practice case studies’ and explore generating a network of faith group leaders with experience of engaging with the planning system. 

“In addition, faith, place and planning issues are not just a UK issue, but are keenly felt across a range of European cities, as some of our international network members have recounted. We want to further establish the European network links to benefit from sharing creative practice across European urban contexts.” 

Their work is funded through an AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) grant.  The grant only runs to February 2016, but the researchers are seeking follow-on funding for the next stage of the work. 

Blyth noted that the RTPI will also look to implement some of the recommendations. For instance, the organisation is reviewing its Code of Conduct, ensuring that “all groups are treated equally”. 

However, producing guides by local planning authorities is going to take time. “You may be aware, in other news, that the financial circumstance of local planning authorities is pretty desperate,” said Blyth. “One of the political issues around this is that we have these good ideas, but they come out against a background where some local authorities are having to cut down what they do to the very bare statutory minimum.” 

The paper does not imply that addressing faith spaces and the planning system will be easy, but it has started the debate. It has also received the backing of housing minister, Brandon Lewis MP, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and other faith leaders. Dr Rogers said: “The role of the network is to make connections around faith, place and planning issues. Therefore the FPN will seek to catalyse the process of developing guides for faith groups and planners, drawing in the relevant professional bodies and faith groups, and building on the links we have established through the network. 

“We anticipate that the support and endorsement of the RTPI will lead to further positive responses from local authority organisations. Similarly, the recently published report from the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life calls for greater religious literacy in all areas of British public life – lending further support and weight to our specific conclusions around better mutual understanding between faith groups and local planning authorities.”

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Switch to Universal Credit doubles number of referrals to foodbanks

25/04/2017Switch to Universal Credit doubles number of referrals to foodbanks

Areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out to single people, couples and families have seen a 16.85% increase in the number of people being... more >
Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

25/04/2017Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

Ahead of this year’s mayoral elections, Lord Kerslake, the former head of the Civil Service, tells PSE’s David Stevenson why the argu... more >
Public sector can lead the UK to an ultra-low emission future

25/04/2017Public sector can lead the UK to an ultra-low emission future

Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low, explains why the public sector has the potential to shape and accelerate the UK automotive market to be entire... more >

editor's comment

11/04/2017A watershed moment in British politics

The government has now officially triggered Article 50, formally starting the process of Britain’s exit from the EU. How this will affect local government, the wider public sector and the Civil Service remains to be seen, but the likelihood of it being plain sailing with the enormity of the task ahead seems rather unlikely.  It... read more >

last word

Parliament cannot solve homelessness through legislation alone

Parliament cannot solve homelessness through legislation alone

Cllr Michelle Lowe, deputy leader and cabinet member for housing and health at Sevenoaks District Council, argues that if the government is really serious about combating homelessness they will w... more > more last word articles >
149x260 PSE Subscribe button

the raven's daily blog

Engaging voters ahead of May’s elections

24/04/2017Engaging voters ahead of May’s elections

Emma Hartley, head of campaigns at the Electoral Commission, discusses the importance of a collaborative approach to engage voters ahead of this year’s elections.  It’s vital that voters can easily participate in every type of election so that democracy can work. One of the challenges for the Electoral Commission when new... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Public sector can lead the UK to an ultra-low emission future

25/04/2017Public sector can lead the UK to an ultra-low emission future

Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low, explains why the public sector has the potential to shape and accelerate the UK automotive market to be entire... more >
Employee financial wellbeing in the public sector

25/04/2017Employee financial wellbeing in the public sector

Charles Cotton, performance and reward adviser to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), analyses the financial wellbeing o... more >
Wigan Council: embracing digital transformation

25/04/2017Wigan Council: embracing digital transformation

Alison McKenzie-Folan, deputy chief executive, director customer transformation at Wigan Council, explains why local authorities, as digital lead... more >
Oxfordshire devolution will boost UK economy

21/04/2017Oxfordshire devolution will boost UK economy

Peter Sloman, chief executive of Oxford City Council, argues that pursuing devolution rather than restructuring local government in the county is... more >

interviews

Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

25/04/2017Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

Ahead of this year’s mayoral elections, Lord Kerslake, the former head of the Civil Service, tells PSE’s David Stevenson why the argu... more >
New social care funding misses the point

13/04/2017New social care funding misses the point

Clive Betts MP, chair of the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee, reflects on the social care funding released in this year’s ... more >
Leading transformational change through procurement

01/03/2017Leading transformational change through procurement

Liz Welton, chair of the Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government (SOPO), tells PSE’s David Stevenson why there are lots of oppo... more >
McMahon: I worry that the public are not part of the devolution conversation

20/12/2016McMahon: I worry that the public are not part of the devolution conversation

Jim McMahon, Labour’s shadow minister for local government and devolution, talks to PSE’s David Stevenson about the need to radically... more >