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Church Commissioners

Volume 692: debated on Thursday 22 April 2021

The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners was asked—

Social Housing

Since 2015, the Church Commissioners have secured planning permission for 3,820 new homes, of which 820 are affordable. Across our portfolio, there is land suitable for the delivery of approximately 28,500 new homes across England, of which we estimate around 8,600 will be affordable.

I thank the hon. Member for that answer. He announced a new commission earlier. I welcome very much the bold vision for addressing the housing crisis in the archbishops’ housing commission report published in February. How will the Church work with social housing providers to provide desperately needed affordable housing, including in east London?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his warm welcome for the housing commission report—a sentiment I very much share. The new housing executive team, led by the Bishop of Chelmsford, will focus on implementing the commission’s recommendations wherever we are able to do so across England, hopefully including east London.

Landholdings Map

What plans the Church of England has to make the recently commissioned map of the landholdings of the commissioners, dioceses and parishes publicly available. (914554)

I reassure the hon. Lady that the process initiated by the archbishops’ housing commission of mapping as much of the Church of England’s land as possible has begun. It includes not just the commissioners’ landholdings, but land owned by dioceses and parishes, as well as glebe land.

I thank the hon. Member for that response—it feels like we are starting to get somewhere. As he knows, I am keen for there to be transparency, because it will help campaigners identify sites for rewilding, agroforestry, social housing and other public goods. Accessing maps of all the land held by the Church Commissioners from the Land Registry would cost £37,428. Will he commit to making that information publicly available and free of charge? Will that be on the agenda at the General Synod, which starts tomorrow?

The hon. Lady’s intervention is timely, as the housing commission report has been timetabled for debate at the General Synod’s July session. The Church Commissioners are in close contact with the housing executive team, who are implementing the housing commission’s recommendations, about their plans for the future ownership and use of this map.