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Project tackles housing shortage

19 April 2013

by a staff reporter


Transformed: the interior of St John's, Hafod, in Swansea, which has been turned into flats for older people

Transformed: the interior of St John's, Hafod, in Swansea, which has been turned into flats for older people

CHURCHES in Wales are being turned into affordable housing, as part of a scheme to encourage churches to transform spare land into homes to tackle shortages.

Four churches have been sold to housing associations, and another six are in the process of being sold, as part of the project Faith in Affordable Housing.

One church, St John's, Swansea, was sold on a 125-year-lease to a housing association; it now provides ten flats for older people, and still retains an area for worship.

The Church in Wales has just over 1400 church buildings across the country, of which two-thirds are listed. Many of the properties, however, are now too large for their small congregations to maintain. For some churches, the project offers a way out of maintaining what has become a costly burden.

The head of property services for the Church in Wales, Alex Glanville, said: "As a Church, we increasingly have more building space than we need across Wales, and we are keen to see how some of it could be converted into affordable housing. All the money raised would be ploughed back into the Church's ministry."

Mr Glanville said that all schemes had to be looked at to see if they made financial sense.

Faith in Affordable Housing is run by the charity Housing Justice, and works predominantly in Wales, but is also reaching into England. It encourages church congregations to think about how they can best use their space for affordable housing.

Figures from Shelter suggest that Wales needs 4000 new affordable homes a year to meet current demand.

Faith in Affordable Housing is holding a conference at St Mark's Church, Gabalfa, Cardiff, on 26 April to encourage churches to explore projects with housing associations. The full programme can be read here.


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