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Seeking permission at all stages

22 July 2016

Thank you for your column “Call in the Professionals” (8 July). As a former churchwarden and present diocesan chancellor, I was not as aware as I should be. There was no mention of the need to get permission to carry out repair work to a church, whether listed or not. . .


YOUR communication was both long and very informative on issues of permission to carry out works; so I will quote some of what you wrote.

“For ‘routine items of maintenance’ (and repair) identified in the latest Quinquennial Inspection Report, the archdeacon could give written consent for them to be done under item B1 of List B in Schedule 1 of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015, having first consulted with the DAC.

“If the works go beyond that, then a faculty from the chancellor will first be required, with the process of getting advice from the full DAC, public notices, and, if required under Schedule 2 of the Rules, consultation with Historic England and relevant amenity bodies, and the local planning authority. These procedures are binding on clergy and wardens under canon law.”

The several stages a church will go through in preparing for any kind of building works are:


  • Identify the work either through the quinquennial inspection report or through maintenance checks, then consulting with the church architect on the extent of the works.
  • Agree with the help of architect on the scope of a building project, and seek the advice of a quantity surveyor on how much the project is likely to cost.
  • Identify the source of the funds the church needs.
  • Apply for faculty (as above), and, if it is necessary for the works, your architect will help you to apply to the local planning authority, and consult Historic England and other amenity societies, such as the Victorian Society and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
  • The next step is to go out to tender, although, if the church’s project is grant-aided, it may be necessary to go out to tender in parallel with applying for permission. It is somewhat safer to undertake these steps sequentially, because a change made during the permission process could have an impact on the tender prices that the builders are preparing.
  • With the faculty agreed by the chancellor, and with the preferred tender accepted by the PCC, the project can be taken forward.
  • During the building project, the architect manages the project for the quality of work, and, with your quantity surveyor, controls the price of the works.


When a project is in progress on an older building, there may be slight variations in the works that the architect will request permission for as “essential although unforeseen”.

It is helpful if the church representatives at this point ensure that the variation comes within the contingency budget set for the project. Any expenditure outside the agreed budget must be taken back to the PCC, and funds identified before the variation can go ahead.

Another approach, if the church has no further funds for the work, is to take a less essential piece of work out of the project so that the essential variation can be paid for. Whatever you do, you must never commit the church to costly works for which it has no identified source of payment already in hand.


Send your issues and questions to maggiedurran@virginmedia.com.

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