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RTPI backs report to help faith groups engage with planning

Words: Laura Edgar
Consultation / Shutterstock_181045064

The RTPI has backed a new report from the Faith and Place Network which recommends that councils should prioritise protecting space for social infrastructure, including places of worship.

The report, Faith Groups and the Planning System (pdf), addresses five policy areas: Understanding one another, Community, Equality and Diversity, Sharing good practice, and the Planning Framework.

Stephen Timms, the Labour Party’s faith envoy, launched the report last week at the House of Commons.

Recommendations in the report include:

• Local planning authorities need to develop a greater understanding of how faith groups use space, which includes the difference between and within faith groups themselves. Faith groups should take a more active involvement in the development of council local plans to ensure their views are included in the consultation process.

• Local planning authorities to examine planning application data to assess whether rates of refusal are higher for some faith groups and to address any potential inequalities if there are discrepancies.

• Local planning authorities should recognise the legitimacy of places of worship being included within s.106 agreements for new development. The community infrastructure levy may also be used to support the provision of places of worship.

The RTPI worked as part of the group that developed the report. Kathie Pollard, policy and networks adviser, who spoke at the report launch, said: “We are very pleased to have been a part of the creation of this paper as it is an incredibly important and timely piece of work which planners and faith communities should engage with.

“It helps planners and decision-makers to make the most well-informed choices to create great places for communities to live, work and play in - including places of worship. We believe that it is a good guide for conversations between faith groups and local authorities on how to use space and to engage in the planning system."