The 2009 Archdeacon’s Articles of Enquiry produced a good deal of feedback about parish experience of the faculty system. The detailed information is set out in the summary of Articles of Enquiry 2009 - The Faculty Process.
The main points are:
- 74% of parishes find the process manageable or straightforward but 26% still find it difficult or very complex
- The biggest frustration for parishes is the time taken to process faculty applications
- The main suggestions from parishes are better guidance, faster turnaround times and a simpler process
We have re-designed the DAC website in 2010 to address (as far as realistically practicable) the above points and other issues identified by parish feedback.
The website now provides a great deal more information about the faculty system, along with good practice tips for parishes on submitting their applications in good time for the monthly DAC meetings and “right first time” to avoid queries and delay.
The faculty process involves, by law, the statutory display of public notices for 28 days and additional legal controls. There is no way round this – parishes therefore need to plan ahead if they have particular deadlines for completing work, and the website guidance will help them plan appropriately.
With quite a high turnover of key staff within parishes, it is not feasible to hold frequent training events but we will instead continue to develop the website to make more information available in an accessible and user-friendly way. With very limited resources in the DAC Office and Registry, it is difficult to process all applications or enquiries as quickly as we would like (particularly when key staff are out of the office or on leave) but we have streamlined our processes and will continue to work at giving better feedback to parishes on the progress of their applications.
The parishes, DAC, Registry and Chancellor are all partners in developing parish activities alongside safeguarding heritage. There are sometimes conflicts between development and heritage and we all need to work together to reach outcomes acceptable to all parties. The DAC will do its best to support parishes by responding to the feedback already received and we will be very happy to receive further ongoing feedback to improve the service we provide.