Christian charity Housing Justice is launching a comprehensive legal guide for churches who are seeking to alleviate homelessness and housing need by disposing of disused church land assets for affordable housing.
While many churches support this idea in principle, the process can be daunting in practice, with many churches being overwhelmed by the thought of navigating charity law and church land ownership procedures.
Following a comprehensive tender process, Housing Justice commissioned Wrigleys Solicitors LLP to create the guide which has been designed to support Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) and other charitable bodies to use their surplus land for affordable housing.
Housing Justice has commissioned the guide as a first-step for PCCs who are interested in exploring this. The Faith in Affordable Housing (FiAH) team is available to discuss queries and to help churches find appropriate partners such as architects and Housing Associations.
Housing Justice’s Reverend Jeremy Fraser, FiAH Project Manager, believes the guide will do much to support PCCs: “The Archbishop’s Report ‘Coming Home – Tackling the Housing Crisis Together’ calls for churches to respond to the housing crisis as part of their Christian mission, but our experience of talking to churches has shown that they often feel overwhelmed by the red tape involved.
“The Housing Justice Faith in Affordable Housing team is regularly being met with the belief that trustees must take the highest financial offer in order to achieve ‘best value’ but this may not always be the case. There is an emerging consensus within the Church that ‘best value’ may have a broader context and could include the mission and delivery of the charitable objects of the PCC and how these will be furthered in perpetuity – such as by selling land for the creation of truly affordable homes. This guide will help trustees understand their legal obligations when disposing of land for affordable housing.”
Beki Winter, FiAH Enabler, added: “We are really excited to be launching this guide and to be working with more churches across England and Wales to help them dispose of their disused land assets and fulfil their Christian mission to help alleviate the housing crisis. We know this can be a challenging process and hope that our guide will simplify it for them.”
Housing Justice is a Charity and Network in Association (CNA) with CTE.