Simpler faculties for your church building

First published 2nd December 2015
St Michaels Church, Othery, Somerset - winner of the 2014 King of Prussia Gold Medal

As part of a national project to simplify the faculty system for work to our church buildings, there will be changes from 1 January 2016, which most parishes will find very welcome.

There will be a new list of minor matters which will detail things that you can do to your church building without any prior authorisation. This list, known as List A, will allow you to do routine maintenance to things such as bells, organs, heating systems, existing kitchen and office accommodation, to repair and re-surface churchyard paths or lop dangerous trees.

Some of these have specific conditions on them, such as the re-surfacing of any churchyard paths must be in the same materials and colour, and maintenance to bells must not include any bell being lifted from its bearings or any tonal alteration. As always, this sort of work to the building should always be noted in the log-book.

There will also be a List B which will include items of work that the Archdeacon will be able to authorise without a faculty being required. This will have the great advantage that it will be quicker as it will not require the display of a public notice for 28 days, and the Chancellor will not be involved in the authorisation process. It will also not attract any fee, which will be welcome to parishes.

Before the Archdeacon considers granting her permission for such work, full details will need to be provided of what is intended, and she is required to take advice from members of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC). This list will include things such as like-for-like replacement of roofing material, replacement of a boiler in same location, installation of a churchyard bench and routine maintenance and repair work to the fabric of the building.

As with the minor matter list above, there are conditions that apply, such as any maintenance or fabric repair work must be either identified in the most recent quinquennial report or supported by a report from an architect. Previously, there has been a financial limit on the work that could be done under the Archdeacons minor matter approval, but this will now disappear. However, the Archdeacon may decide that the proposed work is controversial or raises pastoral issues in the parish, and that a full faculty may be more appropriate. If any work is likely to affect the character of the building as something of architectural significance, it will need to go through the faculty process, with suitable consultations with other amenity bodies, such as Historic England, Victorian Society or Church Buildings Council.

In Bristol Diocese, we are using the on-line faculty system ( and from 1 January 2016 this will automatically take you through these two stages so that if what you have in mind for your building can be done by either a minor matter or by Archdeacons permission, you will be told this. If the work does not fit into those categories, it will automatically be channelled into the faculty process.

If you want to see which works will be in the List A (minor matters) and List B (Archdeacons Permissions), they can be found in this document.

If you have any questions about this and how it might impact on your particular church and works you have in mind, please contact Emma Bakewell, Parish Buildings and Planning Officer, or Anna Taylor, Parish Buildings and Planning Administrative Assistant.

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