New Housing Areas

Churches working together to see new church communities come into being in new housing estates

Churches are committing to work together to reach new housing communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This usually involves churches coming together locally (or at a county/intermediate level) to employ someone to move into a new housing area right at the beginning of the building process and help to develop a sense of community alongside early residents.

CTE hosts a New Housing Areas group who meet three times a year, including a site visit on the third meeting. CTE works closely with Penny Marsh and Ali Boulton who lead the New Housing Hub.  A significant piece of work between CTE, Fresh Expressions and the New Housing Hub is a New Housing Summit planned for 21st June 2022 at Regents Hall in Oxford Street, London (contact CTE’s Ben Aldous for more information).

National housing needs

In June 2015, the Westminster Government website hosted a report of housing need from 2010 called Estimating Housing Need. This provides a background to various assessments that have been made on that need since. For example, one assessment in May 2018 suggests that there is nearly a 4 million shortfall in homes the UK.

The official Government document 2012-based Household Projections: England, 2012-2037 states that ‘the number of households in England is projected to increase from 22.3 million in 2012 to 27.5 million in 2037.

Church engagement with new housing

The National Planning Policy Framework, published in 2012, sets out the Government planning policies for England on which all regional and local planning is based. Section 70 is critical for the purpose of how the church engages with the new housing agenda, as it includes ‘places of worship’, making such provision possible in regional and local plans.

‘Places of worship’ are not the only way in which the church engages with new housing. Indeed there are many groups of churches engaging in other ways. For example working with a faith school, deploying a pioneer minister, working in partnership with a community centre or finding ways to connect with an environmental project.

New Housing Areas that have plans to build 1,000 homes or more are what CTE’s work in this area focuses on, although much of the discussion, learning and practice will be equally applicable for smaller estates. 

Case studies and resources

Penny with face mask

A vibrant recent example of work on new housing estates can be found in New Lubbesthorpe on the outskirts of Leicester, where Sue Steer has pioneered a work.

Other reflections on Wixams near Bedford and Great Notley near Braintree, Essex, are helpful for considering different expectations about how a church might be birthed on a new housing estate.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community has partnered with Housing Justice (one of CTE’s Bodies in Association) to release a set of guides and case studies, empowering churches to respond to the local housing need of their area. The varied programmes shown in this set of resources provide an approach for almost every church.