Religion plays a significant part in our communities - so we need to design for it

Eleanor Jolliffe

Sterile developer-run facilities are no match for the inclusive spaces provided by some faith groups, argues Eleanor Jolliffe

I spent Christmas away from London, and on my train journeys to and from relatives’ homes the tower cranes that landmark London gave way to the church towers and spires so many of our villages and towns are centred upon. It got me to thinking.

Religion isn’t something we tend to engage with in planning or masterplanning UK cities – but is that right?

In the UK, according to the 2011 census just 25% of the population identified as of no religion. 59% of the population self-identified as Christian and 5% as Muslim (the next largest religious group). While Church of England service attendance has been reported as in decline, recent figures suggest this decline has stabilised and that church attendance is now showing early signs of growth. These reports do not take into account the growth seen in other Christian denominations such as Orthodox, pentecostal, evangelical and charismatic – all of which have seen noticeable increases in membership.

This isn’t really the space for a treatise of religious statistics but I hope the above at least starts to demonstrate that while religion may a difficult subject to engage with it is one which directly impacts the lives of 75% of the population, and therefore is not one we should ignore.

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