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Church of England: Real Estate

Volume 707: debated on Monday 24 January 2022

12. What discussions he has had with the Church of England on the potential role of its real estate in helping to meet housing demand. (905185)

We welcome and encourage the steps the Church is taking to make more of its land available for affordable housing. Since the Archbishops’ debate in March 2021 and the publication of the report from the Archbishops’ Commission on Housing, Church and Community, my officials have engaged with representatives to consider how we can provide support for that, and that is expected to continue.

The Secretary of State will know that the Diocese of Gloucester has been doing a lot to help implement the important report from the Archbishops, “Coming Home”. I particularly want to thank Bishop Rachel and all involved for their work in funding the national housing executive and delivering projects such as St Aldate’s and Hardwicke. The Secretary of State will however also know that housing is a complicated issue for the Church and the draft legal reforms on ownership are stuck with the Church Commissioners and the Archbishops’ Council, so what more can my right hon. Friend do, perhaps in conjunction with the Second Church Estates Commissioner, to make sure that the Church of England lives up to its leaders’ social mission and helps provide more space for homes for some of those most in need?

I am tempted to quote from the Gospel, John 14:2:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions”,

and it is certainly the case that we want to work with the Church of England to unlock more land and support its drive to secure greater access to affordable housing. I have recently been in touch in particular with the Bishop of Kensington, Graham Tomlin, and I know he will be taking forward further conversations in order to achieve the goals he and I and the Second Church Estates Commissioner share.