Many people in Coventry will mourn the untimely death of Professor Richard Farnell. Richard was a qualified Town Planner who worked as an Assistant Principal Planning Officer in the City Council’s Department of Architecture and Planning. Afterwards he taught Town Planning at Lanchester Polytechnic, which later became Coventry University. Richard stayed at the university over many changes of department and structure teaching on both undergraduate and post-graduate programmes and researching into neighbourhood regeneration. In 2006 he was appointed as Professor of Neighbourhood Regeneration and following his retirement he continued as Emeritus Professor of Neighbourhood Regeneration. Richard has a long biography of published works, many relating to issues of faith and regeneration.
Richard was also active in the world of housing. He played important roles with Coventry Churches Housing Association, which following a sequence of mergers (via Touchstone, Keynote and Prime Focus) finally became Midland Heart Housing Association. In 2006 Richard became the founding chair of the Association. Midland Heart manages 32,000 properties across the West Midlands.
In 2000 Richard was a member of the Government’s Policy Advisory Group on Community Self-help and an adviser on matters of faith to the Charity Commission. He was a National Adviser to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on ‘Faith and Cohesion’ and was the principal investigator for JRF research into ‘Faith in Urban Regeneration’. Richard was also a trustee of the Church Urban Fund.
Richard also had an important role at Coventry Cathedral, where he was a Canon Theologian and chair of the cathedral council.
Richard’s wife, Alison Farnell said: “He will be remembered by many in Coventry as ‘a gentle giant’ or ‘the tall bloke with the huge smile’ because of his warm, gentle nature and his generous friendship.”
Richard died at home in Rugby on 23rd September at the age of 71. He was suffering from cancer. He leaves a wife, three children and seven grandchildren.
A thanksgiving Service for Richard’s life will take place at Coventry Cathedral on Sunday 21st October 2018 at 4pm.