- List A
- List B
- Temporary Reordering
- Preliminary Advice
- Getting a Faculty
- Faculties and the Amenity Bodies
- Faculties and Planning Permission
A Faculty is a Permission to do something in Church. The system of Faculties goes back to the middle ages.
When the state introduced a planning system, it allowed the Church an exemption from the civil planning system - but of course we have to be faithful in observing the rules of our own planning system - the Faculty Jurisdiction.
New, simpler, system
During 2015, there was a significant reform and simplification of the Faculty System, which came into force on 1 Jan 2016:
Some very minor matters are exempt from getting a Faculty - you don't usually need permission to clean the gutters or change a lightbulb!
Churches are also allowed to do very simple repairs without getting further permission providing that what they proposes to do falls specifically within the List A matters - click on the tab above for more information. But even in these cases, churchwardens / clergy should contact the Archdeacon before going ahead.
The next level of permission is List B matters - click on the tab above - where the Archdeacon, having consulted the DAC, can give permission, often with conditions.
All matters which are not List A or List B will still need a Faculty.
There are two Flowcharts (downloadable below) illustrating all this: one is an overview, the second is a detailed chart of the whole Faculty process.
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We strongly encourage churches to seek advice at an early stage of their thinking - the DAC is there to advise, and has many experts on it; and it is better to consult early than to consult late and get an answer you don't like. Click on the tab above: "Preliminary Advice" to find out more.
To get a Faculty you will need to complete an application form with a Statement of Need giving really good details of what you want to do and why you want to do it, a Statement of Significance explaining what is significant about what you are going to do work on, and an Impact Assessment. Click on the tab above: "Getting a Faculty" to find out more.
For some works, you will need not only a Faculty but also Planning Permission, and Building Regs. Click on the tab above: "Faculties and Planning Permission" to find out more.
This is a list of work which a Church can do without further permission, providing the work intended is specifically mentioned in the list. The List is downloadable below.
But before going ahead, Churchwardens and Clergy should contact their Archdeacon to check - the list is not a blanket permission, and there may be issues which you haven't considered.
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This is a list of work which a Church can do with permission from the Archdeacon, providing the work intended is specifically mentioned in the list. The List is downloadable below.
There is a simple application form to complete and send to your Archdeacon, also downloadable below; when your Archdeacon receives an application, s/he will check a number of things, and consult with the DAC and then make a decision, which may be that you can go ahead (sometimes with conditions), or that in fact you have to apply for a Faculty. The Archdeacon will send you a Licence (the proforma is included in the downloads below, for information).
As always, it is a good idea to have a conversation with your Archdeacon before making an application.
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Churches sometimes need to consider "rearranging their furniture" - eg to make things easier to use, or more accessible, or more appropriate for a new activity or for an existing activity done in a new way.
This rearranging is called, in church terminology, "re-ordering" and Churches have done this for centuries. For example, the pews in your church were probably put in during the 18th or 19th century (during the middle ages churches didn't have pews!) And when they were put in, there were subsidies/grants from national bodies for free seats for poorer people (rich people had reserved seats for which they paid pew rents) which created an unhelpful incentive to cram as many pews as possible into a church: so many churches are now removing some pews to make space, because a sense of space is conducive to worship.
One particular problem most churches face is that all or nearly all the furniture is fixed - making moving it a more major and complex project, which would be difficult to undo again.
Re-ordering usually requires a Faculty, but if the re-ordering is genuinely reversible (eg you are trying something out) the Archdeacon can grant a Licence for a Temporary Reordering, which can last for up to 15 months after which a Faculty must have been granted or things replaced as they were before.
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The DAC is there to provide advice to parishes as well as to the Chancellor. Its advice is free - but it cannot replace advice from a professional adviser (though of course you have to pay for this): instead the aim is to help you be an informed client.
You can download an Application Form below.
There is also a information document about "Advice from the DAC".
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Getting a Faculty
Church buildings, their contents and grounds are protected by Faculty Jurisdiction. Under this legislation, any alteration, repair, extension or addition needs to receive approval. This is granted by the Chancellor of the Diocese.
The Church of England benefits from Ecclesiastical Exemption and is not subject to Listed Building Consent or Conservation Area Consent from the Local Planning Authority. However, it is important to remember that although Listed Building Consent is not required, Planning Permission may be needed if changes are to be made to the outside of the building or churchyard. Building Regs may also be needed eg for alterations to drainage or a boiler.
It is not the DAC, but the Chancellor, in consultation with the Diocesan Registry (and after DAC advice) who makes the final ruling on whether the Faculty is granted.
Click here to see the dates of the meetings of the DAC, and the cost of a Faculty, as you think about the timing of your application.
When you apply for a Faculty you need to remember that some of the people considering your application will not be as familiar with your church, or the work you propose, as you are. You need to explain in as much detail as possible what you want to do, why you want to do it, what impact it will have on historically important fabric, and so on.
There is a document downloadable below [DAC Guidance on Information Required for Faculty Applications - available in two formats] which explains clearly the sort of information you will need to provide.
The most important documents for you to provide are (in simple language) :
- a description of your church and its historic/architectural/etc significance
- the problems you are trying to solve and the options you have considered
- what will be the impact of what you propose - especially the impact on the historically/architecturally important parts of your church
More technically these are:
- a general Statement of Significance: this the Standard Information Form (Form 1A), which is already done for you and held on your own church's page on this website; NB you need to check that it is correct, and let Church House know of any changes; [this is the same as the Historic England Statement of Significance parts 1 & 2]
- a Statement of Need - why you need to do something, the different options considered, and what you propose to do / which is your preferred option;
- a particular Statement of Significance (ie the significance of the item(s) you are proposing to alter) and an Impact Assessment - the impact of what you propose to do; [this is the same as the Historic England Statement of Significance part 3]
The purposes of these documents are:
- To help you assess in your own words the things which comprise the special significance of your Church, be they architectural features, archaeological remains, fine furnishings, a beautiful rural setting or a famous organ and choir, and to contrast and compare this with the perceived needs which are to be fulfilled through the proposal.
- To enable those charged with considering the application, including the DAC, Chancellor, and where appropriate the secular authorities and interest groups, to reach their decisions quickly and fairly, equipped with the basic facts, secure in the knowledge that the parish has a clear idea of its chosen direction and the consequences of this.
For help writing Statements of Significance and Need, and Impact Assessments, there are two websites which offer good up-to-date help:
(In addition, in the downloads, there are three other documents produced by us [General Statement of Significance, Statement of Need, Specific Statement of Significance & Impact Assessments] which are revisions of older documents, and are available in case they are helpful.)
Please remember, it is always a good idea to contact your Archdeacon and the DAC Office directly for advice.
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Faculties and the Amenity Bodies
Our buildings do not just belong to us - they also belong to the past, to the future, and to the wider community.
Some of our buildings are particularly important architecturally or historically and this is reflected in their Listing. When changes are proposed to buildings like these, the Faculty System includes a consultation with national Amenity Bodies where appropriate.
But it is sensible, as with the DAC and your Archdeacon, to consult them early. They can be a source of great help and good advice.
Faculties and Planning Permission
Although Ecclesiastical Exemption means that Churches do not need to get Listed Building Planning Permission for internal works, if you propose work which will alter the outside of the building (eg an extension for a Hall or a Toilet or even floodlighting), you will need Planning Permission.
For some works you will also need to involve Building Regs (eg a new building, work to drainage, a new boiler).
If you want to fell, lop or top a tree in the churchyard or on other church land there may, as well as the need for a Faculty, be a need to contact the relevant Local Planning Authority if the tree is the subject of a Tree Preservation Order or is within a Conservation Area. As usual, the advice is to contact your Archdeacon.