What is a Faculty?
A Faculty is a permission from the Diocesan Chancellor to undertake repairs, alterations or additions to churches, their contents and the churchyards and land that belong to them. It applies to both listed and unlisted churches. Small scale works and some projects may not require a Faculty but may be eligible for Archdeacon's permission, or even not require formal permission at all, because they fall under Lists B and A respectively. If you are unsure as to whether your project requires Faculty or falls under List A or B please contact Tim in the DAC Office.
Faculty permission provides the PCC with authority to undertake work and also with protection in the event of any subsequent objections to work that has been done. Work undertaken without a Faculty can leave the PCC exposed to the possibility of subsequent objections to the Chancellor resulting in an order from the Chancellor to reinstate what has been changed at the PCC's expense.
Faculties are granted by the Chancellor of the Diocese, who is the judge of the Consistory Court. In deciding whether or not to grant a Faculty, the Chancellor takes advice from a variety of bodies including the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC).
The latest update to the faculty rules came in on 1 April 2020. An explanation of the new rules can be found in the document in the right hand bar titled 'New Faculty Rules - January 2020'.
Online Faculty System
Faculty applications are ordinarily made online using the Online Faculty System (OFS). The Online Faculty System is web-based and designed to provide an electronic system for making and tracking applications right through from seeking initial advice from the DAC to receiving the Faculty from the Chancellor. You are able to fill in online versions of the application forms and Statement of Need, populate your Statement of Significance, and upload any supporting documents.
It has been developed by the Church Buildings Council with funding from the Archbishops' Council and Historic England in response to feedback from parishes to make the process simpler and more transparent. The Church Buildings Team will be able to help you set up your account and guide you through the online process, and guidance notes are also available on the online system website.
If you do not have access to the internet or are otherwise unable to use the Online Faculty System please contact the DAC office for assistance.
Who are the DAC?
The DAC (Diocesan Advisory Committee) comprises a range of people with differing areas of expertise, and their advice can be sought on a variety of topics including heating, organs, stained glass, general architectural matters, bells, art, sound amplification systems, lighting, furniture and church fittings, reordering schemes and others. The Committee meets every six weeks or so to discuss the applications for Faculty (known at this stage as applications for DAC Notification of Advice, or informal advice). They are also available for site visits if a PCC wishes to discuss a project at an early stage - this is something we would always recommend, particularly for reordering schemes, extensions or other projects which will involve a major change to the building.
Contrary to popular belief, the DAC does not grant Faculties, it only advises!
What is a DAC Notification of Advice?
A DAC Notification of Advice is a document issued by the DAC to enable the application to progress to full Faculty application (where the proposals are passed to the Chancellor for his consideration and final decision). The DAC Notification of Advice comes in three forms:
- Notification of Recommendation - this signifies that the DAC recommend the application for Faculty consent
- Notification of No Objection - this signifies that the DAC has no objections to the application for Faculty consent
- Notification of No Recommendation - this signifies that the DAC are not able to recommend the application for Faculty consent
DAC Informal Advice
If you would like some pre-application or informal advice from the DAC, simply use the online system and complete as much of the application as you can at this stage with details of what the project involves. An application for informal advice may eventually lead to a full application for Faculty, or may just be an opportunity for the PCC to discuss options. If you are unsure how to proceed, contact Tim in the DAC Office and we will help as best we can.
Archdeacon's Temporary Minor Re-ordering Licence
If you have an idea for a re-organisation of some part of your church (e.g. removing some pews to create a children's area or circulation space) you might find it helpful to apply for an Archdeacon's Temporary Minor Re-ordering Licence.
This is a permission from the Archdeacon, granted following the taking of appropriate advice, to allow a church to make a temporary minor re-arrangement of its internal space to test out whether some proposal will be successful and achieve its intended aim. The Licence can last for up to 15 months and cover any minor re-ordering, provided it is fully reversible because it does not materially alter of the fabric of the church.
Before the end of the Licence period the PCC must either have applied for a Faculty to make the alterations permanent or restored the church to its original state. Applicants need to be aware that the Licence is granted without any consultation of the Chancellor or Historic England or other external body, and so the grant of the Licence by the Archdeacon should not be taken as in any way pre-determining the ultimate grant of a Faculty by the Chancellor. It should rather be thought of as providing the church with a useful experimental basis on which to make a case for the need for the alterations in a future Faculty application.
If you wish to apply for an Archdeacon's Temporary Minor Re-ordering Licence please contact the DAC Secretary Tim Latham by email or call the office on 024 7652 1327.
Contractors for works to churches
The DAC are not able to recommend contractors for works to churches, and we do not keep a list of 'Recommended Contractors'. This is because it is not possible for us to maintain a fair and up-to-date register of the numerous contractors available for work to churches. We can, however, supply parishes with lists of contractors known to undertake work in the Diocese. Alternatively, PCCs can consult their church architect for advice about suitable contractors for works to their building.
Contractors and Insurance
Due to the increase in size of personal injury damages and the fact that there is a slight risk of claims being made against parishes in respect of the consequences of the actions of contractors, a standard condition is imposed on faculties where there are going to be construction or related works of any size. This condition relates to the level of insurance cover which a contractor is required to have. It reads as follows:
"No work shall start until the Petitioners have provided to the Registrar evidence that the contractors have in place employers' liability and public liability insurance cover providing an indemnity of at least £10,000,000 in respect of works done in a period at least that of the duration of the works."