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Last updated 13th May 2022

Large Church Reorderings: Help and Advice

Undertaking a large reordering project in a church can be a daunting prospect for PCCs and Clergy, especially if the building is Listed. This page contains some helpful advice and links, to enable a PCC to get started on a project.


Before starting

Here are some helpful resources which takes a PCC through each step in the process of reordering a church. Reading through these will give PCCs a good understanding of what is needed for such a project.

  • The Church Buildings Council - this site takes a PCC through the main steps in making changes to its building.
  • Crossing the Threshold Toolkit - this is a marvellous resource created by the Diocese of Hereford with step-by-step advice for PCCs.
  • ChurchBuild Project Guide - this guide is part written by Nigel Walters who wrote the hugely influential book 'Buildings for Mission'. The site is interdenominational so be aware that some of the Church of England processes needed for changing your building may not be mentioned here.
  • National Churches Trust - this site offers advice on developing and managing a church building project from repairs through to reorderings.

The PCC may also wish to conduct a feasibility study which could explore several different options for a reordering for the PCC to discuss. Your inspecting architect or a project architect can work alongside PCCs to produce this document. This will cost the PCC money but could be invaluable in helping the PCC to focus on what it really wants from its building. The Parish Vision Fund offers grants to cover feasibility studies.


Book a visit with the Senior Church Buildings Officer

Once the PCC has an idea for a project and done a bit of research to see whether the project is feasible, contact Jen Read, the diocesan Senior Church Buildings Officer who will be happy to visit the church and discuss the project with the clergy, churchwardens and interested members of the PCC. Jen can also visit at an earlier stage to help with thinking through options prior to commissioning a feasibility study. After the visit, Jen will produce a report that sets out the discussion and next steps. This can be taken to the next PCC meeting for further discussion. Jen can be contacted at jen.read@blackburn.anglican.org or 07899 348952.


Gather important documents

To get permission for the changes to the church buildings, certain documents will need to be produced. These could include:

  • A community audit which establishes a need for the changes to the building by providing evidence that the local community support the changes and will use the building once the works have been completed. This type of document is usually needed for major reorderings of highly listed buildings (Grade I or II*) as proof that the potential harm to the significance of the building is outweighed by the need for the works.
  • A Statement of Significance is a statuatory document for all faculty applications. The more significant the building (or the area of the building affected by the proposals), the longer and more detailed this document will need to be. Advice on completing a Statement of Significance can be found here.
  • A Statement of Needs is a statuatory document for all faculty applications. This document provides an opportunity to 'sell' the project to the DAC, the Diocesan Chancellor and to any external consultees who will comment on the proposals. It should set out clearly the process the PCC has undertaken to agree the project, including any designs or plans that may have been discarded; the reasons why the PCC wishes to make the changes; an outline of all the changes that will take place as part of the project and a statement explaining why those changes need to take place. It's tempting to skimp on this document and the Statement of Significance, after all it's often obvious to PCCs why the changes need to take place. It's not always obvious to those outside the PCC and so the more detailed these documents are, the more likely the project will sail through the permissions process. Advice on writing a Statement of Needs can be found here.
  • Architectural drawings and a specification. These must be produced by the project architect which can be the Quinquennial Inspection architect or another architect appointed through a tendering process. 
  • Other reports. The PCC may need to commission other reports to strengthen its case for establishing a need for the proposals. These could include archaeological reports such as an Archealogical Written Scheme of Investigation to determine whether any human remains will be disturbed (and may even include some investigative trenching works); bat reports if there is a possibility that bats will be disturbed by the proposals; arboricultural reports if the works affect trees; structural engineer reports, and so on. The project architect or Senior Church Buildings Officer can advise further on this.

Contact the DAC and arrange a visit

Once all documents have been gathered, it's time to arrange a visit with the DAC and any consultees who may be interested in the proposed changes to your building. Consultees include:

After the visit has taken place, each of the consultees will provide a written report for the PCC with advice. Some of this advice will show support for aspects of the proposals but may also include some elements of caution or outright objection. The content of these reports could mean that the PCC has to rethink some elements of the design or abandon some elements altogether. The Senior Church Buildings Officer will be able to advise further on visits with consultees and how to proceed once advice has been received.


Apply for a faculty

Once the PCC has listened to consultee advice and made any necessary changes to its proposals, a faculty must be applied for. See here for advice on starting a faculty.


Tendering and begining the work

Once faculty permission is recieved, the project architect will help the PCC through the tendering process and the legal side of building regulations. Works should take place under the direction of the project architect who should give regular updates on progress to the PCC


Complete and celebrate

Once works have been completed, it's usual for the PCC to organise a service of either celebration or blessing and invite a senior clergy member such as a bishop or archdeacon to preside. Don't forget to extend your invitation to the DAC. Jen loves visiting churches once the works have been complete!


For further advice on any of the above, please contact Jen Read at jen.read@blackburn.anglican.org or 07899 348952.

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