Making almost any physical change to your church building, its contents or to the churchyard requires permission from the Consistory Court of the Diocese, called a Faculty. This gives you authorisation to carry out the work and is part of the Church of England’s own system of building control, which is called the Faculty Jurisdiction. This system ensures that church buildings are properly cared for and that whatever is done to them is properly considered beforehand and carried out in the most appropriate way. It also takes the place of Listed Building Consent normally required for secular listed buildings.
How to obtain a Faculty
First, check that you do need a Faculty. New rules apply from 1 January 2016, and the list of works not requiring Faculty consent are given here.
Articles to help you during the Faculty process, and to advice on making changes to your church, are available here:
Seek advice and guidance from the Diocesan Advisory Committee
You start the process by contacting the Parish Property Support Team with details of your proposal. The team will check the application to make sure you have the correct information to present to the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC), a body made up of experts in all areas of church life and building management. The purpose of the DAC is to give advice to those responsible for the care and maintenance of churches. The DAC does not itself grant Faculties, but the Chancellor will normally give due weight to its advice.
Apply for DAC advice online
The online portal enabling you to apply for DAC advice is now live. This is the same portal that is used for annual returns. A helpful instruction guide can and some FAQs can be found here. If you head over to the portal and log in using your registered email address you can select ‘DAC’ from the sidebar. Help and explanatory notes are provided throughout the application pages.
Apply for a formal notification of advice from the DAC
To apply for a Faculty from the Consistory Court you will first need a Notification of Advice, issued by the DAC. Obtaining this document is the first part of the application process.
The DAC will discuss your case at one of its monthly meetings. A member of the Parish Property Support Team will contact you with the DAC’s advice and explain what is going to happen next. Members may wish to carry out a site visit so they can understand better what is intended. Discussions may also include bodies such as the Church Buildings Council, English Heritage, the National Amenity Societies and the Local Authority. Their response will inform the DAC’s view.
When the DAC is content with the proposal, a member of the Parish Property Support Team will send you a Notification of Advice.
Obtain a Faculty from the Chancellor
As part of the Faculty process you must display a Notice for 28 days inside and outside the church, describing the works you intend to carry out, to give parishioners and anyone else with an interest in the building the chance to comment or object. Comments or objections are sent directly to the Diocesan Registrar. You do not need to wait until the expiry of the Notice to submit your application. Send this, or a copy, with the Certificate to the Registry.
While the Faculty jurisdiction exempts you from Listed Building Control, and Conservation Area Consent, if applicable, it does not exempt you from the need to obtain planning permission or advertising consent, so make sure you check with your Local Authority if this is required.
Faculty forms – Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2013
You can download the forms needed to seek Faculty consent from the Chancellor, below.
Form 1A is a standard information form. You should retain a copy of this on your file for future reference. Much of the information needed for this form will be contained in the buildings information sent to you with the DAC’s Notification of Advice.
Form 3A is the Faculty petition form itself. If you have any questions about filling this form in, please contact the Diocesan Registry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Form 4A is a public notice form. Instructions for its display are contained on the form itself. Please note the requirement to sign the back of the notice and forward it to the Diocesan Registry at the end of the notice period.