We have had preliminary consultative visits from the
DAC, and have sent in our detailed project. Now, various
organisations have been consulted, each of which has come back with
pernickety details. If we had not spent so much time and effort
getting the details sorted, I might be able to tolerate them
THE process of gaining faculty approval is a bit of a maze. To
ensure that we do not mess up listed churches, we have to gain the
approval of various agencies whose function it is to look at the
wider picture. Most of those agencies realise that church buildings
have to change or risk closure; so each may be looking for the
least damaging - from their point of view - way of achieving the
The process begins with an application by the church to the DAC;
a preliminary visit early in your development may simplify the
later progress. The formal application to the DAC includes detailed
plans of your works, Statements of Significance and Need, and an
estimate of the cost of the works. Check your diocesan website for
any further requirements.
Your architect is advised to send a similar package of material
to the main consultees: English Heritage, the
Georgian/Victorian/Twentieth Century Society, the Society for the
Protection of Ancient Buildings, and, if necessary, others. In the
next faculty step, these consultations are required, but early
responses can be addressed by your architect, along with DAC
The revised package is sent by the incumbent and churchwardens
to the Diocesan Registrar, together with an approving resolution
from the PCC. A public notice about the works is displayed in the
church, and outside, for 28 days, to allow local people to object
if they wish. (This can be done in parallel with submission to the
Registrar and Chancellor). Then the Chancellor decides whether to
approve the faculty.
The devil will be in the detail. If you have had past grants
from English Heritage, it may want to "approve" any future works to
the church. In addition, English Heritage must be consulted on any
works that may change the building, even in small details.
Normally, a visit is made, as for the other consultees, but with
like-for-like repairs this may not happen.
From the church's point of view, you will feel powerless in the
midst of a flurry of opinions and comments from various quarters.
Some of these will require changes to the detail of your plans;
others will disappear.
It is disconcerting to have your hard work overwhelmed by all
kinds of comments, but here are a few tips. Listen hard when
consultees visit, and, if you do need to explain why you chose a
particular design option, never be confrontational. These are
experts who are there to understand both the need for change, and
the significance of the building, and to help you to find a way
through the issues. They are not there to stand in your way
obstructively or needlessly.
Let everyone make comments, including the DAC, and then have a
meeting with your architect to sort out what changes must be made
to your plans in order to progress further with a submission to the
Registrar and Chancellor. You may not have to adapt to all
objections; use your architect's experience to guide you.
Most dioceses have guidance on their websites; most archdeacons
can be very helpful; most DAC secretaries advise on the basis of a
great deal of good experience.
Your questions to email@example.com.
The next "Village and its Church" workshop is in
Deddington, Oxon, in June.