Covid-19: Landholdings

The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked – in the House of Commons on 21st January 2021.

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Photo of Mark Eastwood Mark Eastwood Conservative, Dewsbury

What assessment he has made of the financial effect of the covid-19 outbreak on Church of England landholdings.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

The Commissioners’ property assets are independently valued by third parties on an annual basis. The audited financial results for 2020 will be available later in the year and laid before Parliament once an annual general meeting is able to take place.

Photo of Mark Eastwood Mark Eastwood Conservative, Dewsbury

The recently appointed Archbishop of York has spoken in the past about the importance of caring for green spaces. In his enthronement sermon, he declared that

“we are at risk of separating ourselves from the planet itself, so obsessed have we become with the dangerous suppositions of our own importance and dominion.”

Can my hon. Friend encourage the archbishop to act on his words and impress upon the Church Commissioner landowners the need to have a rethink of their plan for the unjustifiable destruction of unspoilt countryside and farmland at Chidswell in Dewsbury?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

I know that my hon. Friend works tirelessly for the people of Dewsbury. I and the staff of the Church Commissioners have met him to discuss this issue. Although the planning application is yet to be determined, it is in line with the strategic objectives of the Kirklees development plan. It will not only bring much-needed new homes to his area, but new employment opportunities and new public open space.