No one is allowed to carry out work on a church building or its churchyard without the permission of the Chancellor of the Diocese. This permission is called a faculty.
What is a faculty?
A faculty is permission to carry out work on a church or its churchyard or to introduce or dispose of items. Alternative uses of parts of churches can be authorised by a licence under faculty - see here.
Why do we have faculties?
The requirement to obtain faculties is laid out in the Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1991.
There are three main reasons that we have the faculty process (known as the 'faculty jurisdiction'):
The Church of England enjoys an exemption from secular Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent because of the procedures contained within the faculty jurisdiction. The Church of England has 16,000 places of worship and 12,000 of these are listed buildings. The ecclesiastical exemption enables the church to put mission rather than conservation first.
The ecclesiastical exemption is subject to regular review by the Department of Culture, Media & Sport so it is important that the church is seen to follow its procedures correctly.
Many of our church buildings have been around for hundreds of years, many for less, but we hope that they will be around for many years to come as centres of Christian worship in our communities. We are merely trustees of the buildings, looking after them for our generation.
We have a responsibility to attempt to care for our church buildings in a way that ensures that they are in as good a condition as possible for those who will follow. There are, unfortunately, many instances of inappropriate work done in the past which have caused considerable difficulties and expense for PCCs in later years.
Opportunities for representations
The faculty procedure provides opportunities for representation to be made for or against any proposals. These representations could come from within the church family (e.g. members of the congregation), from external bodies (e.g. English Heritage, a national amenity society, a local authority conservation officer) or from others with an interest (e.g. neighbours, user groups).
Whilst the procedure allows for representations to be made, no one has a veto. The Diocesan Chancellor will decide each case on its merits, taking into account the advice from the DAC and representations from others.
We aim to make the process as quick and as straightforward as possible, whilst recognising that there will be cases that are complex or difficult.