Church leaders seek to work with Milliband on new communities

Church leaders from across England have written to David Milliband MP, Minister of Communities and Local Government, inviting him to work with them in developing new communities. The Group for New Communities, part of Churches Together in England (CTE), was formed to share good practice and offer support to those working in areas of new housing.

Anthea Cox, Chair of the Group for New Communities and Methodist Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, said "The Group offers a wide range of experience from many different denominations. Churches offer more than just Sunday services, and in new communities can be vital in offering education, leisure, social services and community development. We have a proven track record across decades of helping turn new housing developments into thriving communities, and we want to work with the Government as it seeks to tackle many of the same problems."

For example, in Ashford in Kent local churches are involved in the planning for the Discovery Centre, which will house a range of services for local residents in a town that is expected to grow rapidly over the next 20 years. The Methodist Church and the Church of England have teamed up to work towards a new primary school for the town. Also in the town, the Baptist Church has helped with the creation of the Willow Centre, a Sure Start project that has benefited from the national nurseries initiative.

The full text of the letter:

David Milliband MP Minister of Communities and Local Government Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 26 Whitehall London SW1A 2WH

Dear Mr Milliband

I am writing to you on behalf of the Churches Together in England Working Group for new Communities to express our congratulations at your new role and to offer our support in working together to build sustainable new communities.

The Group for New Communities brings together the voice and the experience of the Christian Churches to meet the challenge of developing new communities and we would hope for a meeting with yourself in order to introduce you to this work and discuss how it might be developed?

The Group for New Communities has come together over the past eighteen months under the oversight of Churches Together in England in order to share good practice and offer support to those who recognise both the challenges and opportunities that areas of significant new housing would bring. Representing a wide range of denominations (listed at the end of this letter), the Group brings together a breadth of expertise, linking together those who operate locally, regionally and nationally. Churches are, of course, involved in much wider aspects of building new communities than just developing new churches, including the provision of education, leisure, social services and community development. The churches are investing significantly in this area, not least in terms of personnel. Churches have a proven track record in community building and this is a tremendous asset to those areas where the churches have become fully engaged.

The Group for New Communities believes that we have specific expertise to bring to the promotion for the social cohesion agenda. We would also like to discuss where the Sustainable Communities programme now sits within the Government's priorities and what contribution is expected of the faith communities. The Group for New Communities is able to offer a direct link into local projects in growth areas.

We hope that you will be able to explore this area of work with us, and we look forward to hearing from you.

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