Faculty Consent and the Registry

Churches are local centres of worship and mission. The churches in England represent a unique part of our heritage. We must therefore take great care to preserve them and their contents for future generations, and to bring about necessary change in a professional and sympathetic way. 

There is a presumption against change to historic (i.e. listed) churches unless it can be shown that such changes are necessary to enable the church to fulfil this role. Then a balance has to be struck between the role of the church and the history of the building. 

For the Church of England, Faculty Jurisdiction (revised in 2015, with new Rules from the 1st January 2016) provides the legal framework for ecclesiastical permission for works to churches and churchyards and their contents. This currently gives exemption from Listed Building Consent but not from Planning Permission for alterations, which all churches need, in common with secular buildings. Faculty Jurisdiction covers all works, including the introduction or disposal of items, repairs and maintenance, as well as more major changes. 

An important provision in the new Rules is that there should be consultation with appropriate secular authorities where changes to a listed building are proposed. 

Planning permission is likely to be required if there is to be a material change to the external appearance of the building, and the PCC should contact the Local Authority Conservation Officer for their advice. In addition, for alterations to a listed building which may affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest, for works involving demolition affecting the exterior of an unlisted building in a conservation area or for works likely to affect the archaeological importance of the church or archaeological remains within the church or its curtilage, there must be consultation with Historic England, the relevant national amenity society and the local planning authority at the same time as consultations with the DAC. The DAC Secretary will advise whom to consult and will coordinate this on behalf of the PCC. Some works may require consultation with the Church Buildings Council; this will also be done by the DAC Secretary on behalf of the parish.