Building New Communities
in the North East
Chris Beales writes:
Across the North East England, large numbers of new homes are being built. My research identifies significant new housing developments being built or planned in each of the 12 local authority areas across the region. The challenge for us all is how to “build good community” and my aim has been to lay the foundations for new strategic thinking and action by Churches and others, working with landowners, builders, planners, communities and all involved.
After a brief summary of the current housing situation across the country and in North East England – and the huge challenges facing Church and society – I survey the history of housing and communities in the region since the first half of the 19th century and then look, in particular, at some significant developments since the Second World War. In exploring present and future trends and requirements, I describe offsite construction and modular housing initiatives and also some innovative ideas to address housing need.
I explore at some length what this all means for the Churches and for effective Christian engagement, before concluding: “If ‘Christian Hope’ is to have real meaning and substance in relation to housing and community – and especially new housing developments – it must be rooted, earthed, realised, incarnated in practical, purposeful action. The time has come to put community development (in all its meanings) at the heart of Christian life and witness.”
Two workshops were held during 2018, in Newcastle and Darlington, on the theme of A House or a Home? – and these are summarised in my report (available here).