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Faith in Affordable Housing – we have produced a legal guide advising on land disposal by the Church of England for affordable housing

29 April 2024

A new guide is available to inform Parochial Church Councils who may be considering repurposing church land to deliver new affordable homes.

Wrigleys Solicitors LLP recently teamed up with the housing charity, Housing Justice and the Church Housing Foundation to produce a legal guide for churches who are seeking to alleviate homelessness and tackle housing need by disposing of disused church land assets to deliver affordable housing.

While many churches support this idea in principle, the process can seem quite daunting, with many churches being understandably cautious about embarking on navigating charity law and church land ownership procedures.

Housing Justice commissioned the guide as a first step for Parochial Church Councils who are interested in exploring this and appointed Wrigleys to act for them to produce it.

Housing Justice’s Reverend Jeremy Fraser, Faith in Affordable Housing’s Project Manager, believes the guide will do much to support PCCs: “The Archbishops’ 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.”

We have a longstanding specialism in both the Faith and Community-led Housing sectors at Wrigleys. We were thrilled to work with Housing Justice and bring our expertise in both disciplines to produce this new guide. We very much hope that it will help provide clarity around church land disposals for affordable housing, and in time, enable collaborative housing projects to succeed.

You can read the guide and find out more information about the Faith in Affordable Housing programme at https://housingjustice.org.uk/news/2023/hj-legal-guide-for-churches

 

 

 
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