These pages give advice to parishes and clergy on the permission needed for different types of works on church buildings and churchyards.
The Diocese of Chester is custodian to a rich and varied heritage of some 300 church buildings. 200 of these buildings are listed; 100 are listed at Grade I or II* as being of exception national interest. Many of these churches are truly inspirational works of faith which deserve the utmost care in their preservation and sensitive development.
With this very special heritage comes responsibility towards past, present and future generations of worshippers, and to the community at large. Our church buildings are exempt from Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent under the terms of the Ecclesiastical Exemption. This allows the Church a valuable degree of freedom to develop its buildings in line with worship requirements.
However, in order to continue enjoying such feedom, the Church must operate a suitable level of control to safeguard the very significant part of the nation’s heritage which is entrusted to it. The Church must comply with local planning consent and building regulations. It must also consult appropriately with English Heritage and the various amenity societies. Parishes must, by law, obtain the appropriate permission before undertaking any works to their church or churchyard. In most cases, this is through the Faculty System under which the Diocesan Chancellor authorises works after receiving advice from the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) for the Care of Churches. Other routes are also available depending on the nature and urgency of the proposed works. These web pages provide details of the various different procedures.
An overview of the statutory aspects of Ecclesiastical Exemption is provided in a paper prepared by Alexandra Fairclough, who is a member of the Chester DAC. This document is available here.
If your church is a listed building, you can check which level (Grade 1, 2* or 2) and the reasons for that listing by consulting the English Heritage listing database - or ring the DAC Office.