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 (DAC) aims to manage effectively the church’s equivalent of planning regulations.
Below is a guide to what you need to do if you are looking to make any alternations to your church building.
Why a faculty process?
The State believes 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 provides 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, when the case is controversial or has opposition, he will hold a special hearing called a Consistory Court, whose origins date back to the Norman Conquest, and whose role was revised by the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963.
The Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) is a statutory body responsible for advising the Chancellor of the Diocese about the judgements he makes. The DAC can help you make sure you have the correct paperwork and all the necessary information you need about the alterations you propose.
The faculty process is governed by the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015.
Making alterations to church buildings
If you are looking to make alterations to your church building, you will probably need to make a Faculty application for permission.
There are a number of more minor works that don’t need to go through this process - 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.
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 you need to obtain a Faculty.
Whatever 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 who want to work with you to enrich your buildings for future worship and mission.
Using the Faculty Process
If you are looking to apply for a faculty, you will need to complete some formal paperwork and submit plans, specifications and estimates of cost.
You will need to consult your church architect for advice and have a PCC resolution in place. The DAC will examine these and 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.
You will need to register to use the online system. When you’ve been approved you will then be able to use the system to submit faculty applications to the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) or "List B" applications to your archdeacon. You can register up to three users per parish.
How will the online system help parishes to complete applications?
- It will help you establish if the proposed work requires a faculty or can be authorised by the archdeacon.
- Prompts will help you complete your faculty applications correctly.
- Consultations and faculty applications will be quicker and easier to submit.
- You’ll be able to track the progress of your application through to the granting of a faculty.
Successful applications need to be thorough, properly costed, affordable and justifiable according to the worship and mission of the church. Contacting the DAC early on in the faculty process can help make it easier while balancing our heritage and mission needs.
How to register for the online faculty system
- Go to Online Faculty System by clicking this link
- Click the "register" button (top right of screen)
- You’ll need to put the name of your church and your diocese (Liverpool) when you register.• Then you’ve been be approved, you’ll be able to submit faculty applications and “List B” requests.
- Up to three users will be authorised for each church.
You’ll find an introduction to the online faculty system on the Church Buildings Council’s website Churchcare. Please see the online user guides and FAQs for:
- detailed advice on the use of the system and
- the information you’ll need to include with applications.
You will still be able to submit paper and email applications to the DAC Office during the first quarter of 2019. After a review in April 2019 and any revisions, it’s expected that you’ll need to make all future applications using the online system.
If you have any queries or need guidance on the registration process please contact:
Within the Church of England, every church building must be inspected by an architect or chartered building surveyor approved by the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) every five years. This is known as a Quinquennial inspection [QQI], because it takes place every five years. This regular system of review is designed to ensure that church buildings are kept in good repair.
In the year that your church QQI is due, you have the opportunity to change your QQI architect. If however, you are not satisfied with the work of your inspecting architect or surveyor and wish to make the change sooner, you should discuss this matter with your archdeacon before submitting to the DAC a request to change your architect, which must include your reasons for requesting the change. You can appoint another architect from this approved list, which is then subject to DAC approval.
What to do if you need planning permission
We have had a couple of cases where churches, after consulting the DAC, have had plans drawn up for re-ordering involving external alterations to churches that need planning consent and a faculty, and have applied first for planning consent, and only belatedly for a faculty.
We would expect any professional architect or surveyor on our approved list to know the process, but ministers and churchwardens should make sure they do.
The alterations allowed to approved plans in a planning consent are now very limited. If the DAC sees plans later and wants alterations, when you already have planning consent, you may need to make a fresh planning application to the Local Planning Authority.
If you get DAC approval first, and the LPA wants changes, our process is more flexible (even after a faculty has been granted), and alterations can be made to meet the LPA’s suggestions. There may of course occasionally be a difference of opinion between the DAC and the LPA, but these can normally be resolved.
For listed buildings, the circumstances in which LPAs consult Historic England and amenity societies are different from the Faculty Rules, which expect consultation on any significant alteration., viz. the demolition of a significant part of the structure of the interior, the removal of major internal fixtures such as fixed pews, a rood screen or an organ, or the addition of any significant new element such as the creation of new spaces through subdivision.
The full guidance (should you be happy with legalese) is at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/1568/contents/made