Statements of Significance and Need
The process of obtaining a faculty is started by applying to the Parish Property Support Team for a Certificate of Recommendation. In order to be processed your application should include two documents known as the Statement of Need and the Statement of Significance. Your application may already include drawings of the building as existing and as proposed, perhaps also written proposals or professional information, such as literature from the manufacturer of equipment that you plan to install. The purpose of these two documents is to expand on these details. They function a bit like Design and Access statements in the secular planning system.
Statements of Need and Significance help the Parish Property Support Team and the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) to understand better your church building, what you plan to do, why you want to do it and the effect that your proposals will have. They are a key part of your application – remember, the people who are processing it won’t necessarily know your building or be familiar with the background to your proposals. If your architect is familiar with the faculty system he or she may offer to produce them, but you will still need to be able to convey clearly everything that needs to be incorporated.
It isn’t obligatory to have final drafts of your Statements of Significance and Need ready when you first approach the Parish Property Support Team, but writing them can be a very useful exercise. It can help to clarify your thinking and crystallise your proposal. For example, if you understand your building better you can rule out proposals that might be contentious.
Although writing Statements of Significance and Need can be time-consuming, the effort is never wasted. You can also re-use the Statement of Significance for future applications.
Statement of Need
The Statement of Need explains the background to the proposal and its justifications. How did it come about? Why do you want to do it? Did you look at any other ways of achieving what you wish to do? If so, why did you decide against them? Does your proposal address a shortcoming in the building or its services? If so, what is that and what problems does it cause? How will what you wish to do change the life of your parish? How will it help to further mission?
It’s important not to make a Statement of Need speculative. Say you wish to remove the pews from your church: writing, “If we removed the pews then we could hold such-and-such an event” is a speculative justification – you want to make an irreversible change to do something that you’ve not tried before. But if you say, “We’ve held such-and-such an event in the church and it was a big success, but the pews got in the way and prevent us from expanding it” then such a justification will carry a lot of weight with the DAC.
Statement of Significance
The Statement of Significance should be in two sections. The first sets out the history of the building. When was it built? Who designed it? How did the first building evolve over time? Was it replaced or rebuilt or is it a well preserved example of its type? What are its architecturally and historically most important features? These are the sorts of questions that the first part needs to answer. Include plans and photographs of the building, both up-to-date and historical ones, as all this material will help the people handling your application.
The second part should explain what the impact of the proposals will be on the building. Will any fabric need to be demolished or altered? Will fittings need to be removed or relocated? How will the appearance of the building change as a result? These are the sorts of questions that the first part needs to answer. You may already have a church guide with this information. This can be an excellent basis for a Statement of Significance, although it’s important to tailor the information to each particular application. Statements of Significance are a mandatory requirement for applications for works to listed churches. They are not compulsory for unlisted buildings, but can sometimes be helpful – the Parish Property Support Team can advise you on whether one might be needed.
There is no one correct way to write a Statement of Significance or a Statement of Need and for minor proposals they can be relatively short. But if you wish to find out more then you may find these sites helpful. In addition, the attached template documents suggest questions to consider in each section.
- The National Heritage List for England – English Heritage’s national register of listed buildings in England
- British Listed Buildings – an independent register of listed buildings in Great Britain
- Church Plans Online – a database of historic church plans dating from 1818 to 1982
- The National Pipe Organ Register of the British Institute of Organ Studies
- Caring for God’s Acre – information about conserving and maintaining churchyards
- BREEAM – a design and assessment method for sustainable buildings
- Shrinking the Footprint – the Church of England’s national environmental campaign