Faith, planning and changing multiculturalism: constructing religious buildings in London’s suburbia

Nazneen Ahmed, Claire Dwyer, David Gilbert

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This paper draws on recent research on the construction of new religious buildings by diverse faith communities in the London Borough of Ealing in West London to compare the navigation of local planning processes in the realisation of new permanent structures for worship. While existing research emphasises barriers for minority faith communities, this paper suggests that faith communities are successful local actors able to navigate local planning governance particularly through accumulated expertise and social capital networks, although there are marked differences in capacity and experience between different faith groups. There is also evidence of the mobilisation of narratives of ‘instutionalised multiculturalism’ embedded in local policy documents in support for faith communities, but ongoing on-going austerity cuts since 2010 have reduced the capacity of the local state to support projects. Finally, the paper suggests that these planning processes indicate changing ideas of the nature of the suburbs and suburban multiculturalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Early online date5 Aug 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Aug 2019


  • Religion
  • Ethnicity
  • suburbs
  • planning
  • Multiculturalism
  • places of worship

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