Do we need a Faculty?

From 1st January 2016 the faculty process has been simplified. The Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 (as amended with effect from 1st April 2020, see below) now provide for a single, comprehensive set of rules governing the faculty system nationwide and set out those works which can be undertaken without the need for any consultation ("List A" matters), those which can be undertaken with written approval from an Archdeacon ("List B" matters) and those which can only be undertaken under a faculty issued by the Chancellor. List A and List B matters are generally items of maintenance, minor repairs, and some works to trees and bells. However, certain specific conditions must still be complied with to ensure best practice and high quality, and permission given by List A, List B or Faculty does not remove the need to consider any additional planning requirements which may be appropriate in some circumstances (eg Tree Preservation Orders, planning permission).

So, how do you know which applies to the works you are planning to carry out at your church? Follow this 3-step process:

Step 1: Look carefully at the List A matters (see bottom of page). If the works you are planning match exactly with a List A matter, then you do not need any formal consent to carry them out (though take note of any conditions which are specified). If they do not match a List A matter, then move on to ...

Step 2: Look carefully at the List B matters (see bottom of page). If the works you are planning match exactly with a List B matter, then you will need written approval from your Archdeacon to carry them out (and you must take note of any conditions which are specified on the List or imposed by your Archdeacon). If they do not match a matter on List B, then move on to ..

Step 3: If the works you are planning are not on List A or List B then you will need to apply for a Faculty. Please see the Faculty Flowchart for an overview of the faculty process.

The Chancellor may authorise urgent works on the authority of an Interim Faculty; please see the Practice Direction below for the produce to be followed.

NOTE: The matters on List A and List B are drawn very tightly, so if your proposal does not fit the description of a listed item exactly then do not tick that box on the application form. Incorrect item selection is the most common reason for rejection of List A or B applications. If you are not sure, and need help with your proposal, please contact Catherine Copp.

Applicants using the Online Faculty System will be automatically directed, via a series of simple questions, down either the "List A" or "List B" route or will be advised that a full faculty application is necessary. Use of this online system is compulsory - it provides an excellent record for your church of the applications submitted and the decisions made, response times are generally quicker, and we no longer accept paper applications. If you have not already done so, your PCC should nominate someone who can register as an Applicant to use the system and submit applications on their behalf. At the bottom of this page, you will find copies of guidance on how to register for the System, how to notify a List A matter, how to apply for Archdeacon's approval for a List B matter, and how to start a faculty application.

Click here for Online Faculty System.

The guidance provided within the system (under the 'Help' tab) is comprehensive - the manuals contain clear instructions and screenshots, and the system is quite intuitive - but anyone experiencing difficulty in using the system should not hesitate to contact the DAC Secretary, Catherine Copp, on 01904 699522 (or email: catherine.copp@yorkdiocese.org). She will be able to access your application on the website and will be happy to talk you through any sections which need clarification.

RULE CHANGES - from 1st April 2020

On 1 April 2020 new faculty rules come into effect. This is the first substantial change since the 2015 rules that introduced the lists of works that could be done without faculty, some after confirmation by the Archdeacon that a faculty is not needed.

The new rules add to both List A (works that can be done without permission) and List B (works that need the Archdeacon’s written approval). There will be more routine, repair and maintenance works that will not need a faculty. The range of items in Lists A and B is increased and a distinction made between listed and unlisted buildings where appropriate. Matters to encourage better use of energy are moved into the lists, and providing bike racks is introduced for the first time. You can find the new Lists A and B in Table 1 of the new rules.

One intention of the new rules is to see churches better supported through the faculty process. For churches with far-reaching proposals that will change the character of a listed building wide consultation remains necessary. However, it has been moved to earlier in the process so that parishes will have the benefit of the advice before the DAC issues its notification of advice. The period for receipt of responses to consultation has been extended from 28 days to 42 days; this will lengthen the faculty process for some people, making early contact with the DAC even more important. Plan ahead!

To support these changes the Online Faculty System has been revised and all new applications from 1 April 2020 will have new screens to reflect the new rules and to encourage close working with the DAC. The main change that experienced users will notice is at the start of a new faculty application. The first engagement will ask only two questions – Form 1 (standard information about your church) and a description of the project. The DAC will review this and advise the next steps according to what is really needed. This is intended to encourage close engagement and save a church providing more than is needed.

All applications started on or before 31 March will follow the current rules, and the online system will automatically identify these and continue to process them as at present.

The CBC’s updated guidance for parishes on the new rules is here. The flowchart can be downloaded as a stand-alone document from here.

If your application includes works to lighting, power or heating, please make sure that your contractor completes the Electrical Declaration form (below) and that you include the completed form with your List B or faculty application.

If you need any assistance regarding the rule changes or changes to the Online Faculty System then please contact the DAC Secretary, Catherine Copp (catherine.copp@yorkdiocese.org), but unless your enquiry is urgent please do wait until after the Easter weekend. If you need advice on a major project affecting your building, particularly if it is Listed, please contact the Church Buildings Adviser, Keith Halliday (keith.halliday@yorkdiocese.org).

[Page updated: 22 January 2021]

Suggested Reading

Changing Churches: A Practical Guide to the Faculty System. By Charles Mynors (2016). Bloomsburg Continuum.

Buildings for Mission: A Complete Guide to the Care, Conservation and Development of Churches. By Nigel Walter and Andrew Mottram (2015). Canterbury Press.