The Church of England has to balance its duties as custodian of some fine buildings with the need to use these buildings to further our mission and ministry. The Diocesan Advisory Committee is established to manage what is effectively the church’s equivalent of planning regulations. Here we offer a guide to what you have to do if you are looking to make any alternations to your church building.
Why a faculty process?
The state believes that the church is best placed to decide on the suitability of any church alterations and has granted “ecclesiastical exemption” from planning law. However if we are seen to be reckless or insensitive that exemption may change. The Faculty process seeks to provide a statutory framework for the church to balance mission needs with heritage considerations.
The Chancellor of the Diocese – an independent judge – is the ultimate arbiter for Faculty petitions. Most of the time he will make a decision based on the paperwork. Occasionally, usually when the case is controversial or has opposition, he will hold a consistory court. See here for more details
The Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) is a statutory body responsible for advising the Chancellor of the Diocese over the judgements he makes the DAC can help you make sure you have the paperwork correct and all necessary information about what you propose.
The faculty process is governed by the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015.
Making alterations to church buildings
If you are looking to make any alterations to your church building then you will probably need to make what’s known as a Faculty application for permission. There are a number of more minor works that don’t need to be put through this process and these are detailed in the new Minor Matters Lists A & B. List A covers work that will not require permission; List B details work that may be authorised directly by the Archdeacon, so the first thing to check is whether what you propose is covered by List A or List B. Click here for List A
and here for List B.
If the work is covered by List A the work can go ahead with no further consultation. If the work is included in List B, you should contact the Archdeacon and send them all the relevant details. They may ask for further details or seek advice from the DAC. Once they have considered the proposals they will give their written authority or they may say that a faculty should be obtained.
Whatever the work is that you are proposing a quick phone call to Chris Leggett at the DAC may save time in the long run. The DAC has experts in many fields and want to work with you to enrich buildings for future worship and mission.
Using the Faculty Process
If you are looking to apply for a faculty then you will need to complete an amount of formal paperwork and submit plans, specifications and estimates of cost. You will need to consult your church architect for advice and have a resolution from the PCC in place. These are then examined by the DAC who will make a formal recommendation to the Chancellor. The Chancellor places great weight on the DAC advice.
You can find a step by step guide to the faculty process here.
Successful applications need to be thought through, properly costed and affordable and justifiable according to the worship and mission of the church. Early contact with the DAC can help make it easier to use the faculty process and balance our heritage and mission needs.