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Bishop bashes Gove's 'utterly confusing' decision to block Church's social housing plans

by Sophie Drew

The Bishop of Gloucester has called a government decision to block housing on church land "incomprehensible" as Britain's housing crisis worsens.

In a letter to the housing secretary, Michael Gove, Rt Rev Rachel Treweek said the decision to stop church housing plans in Cheltenham would "exacerbate" the crisis.

The Diocese of Gloucester was planning on building affordable homes on unused land owned by the Church Housing Association.

The plans were backed by Cheltenham Borough Council before being overturned by Gove in a move Bishop Rachel has labelled "utterly confusing".

"There is a substantial and widespread housing crisis in England which we, as the Church of England locally, are seeking to alleviate as best we can," the bishop wrote.

"This site would contribute not only to local alleviation of the housing crisis but it will also help fund the national work the church is doing to bring further alleviation in places as far away as Blackpool and Newham."

The plans would have seen 350 new homes built in Cheltenham, 40 per cent of which would have been "affordable housing," aimed at lower income families.

Proceeds would then have funded the church's other social housing projects in the future.

According to Shelter England, a leading homelessness charity, the amount of social housing on offer is in steep decline. Their research suggests more people than ever are struggling to afford a safe place to live, but more than 1 million households are waiting for social homes.

According to their statistics, 29,000 social homes were demolished in 2022, and only 7,000 were built.

Premier Christian News has approached the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for comment.

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