What is a faculty and when do I need to seek permission for works?
A faculty is the permission needed to do certain works in and around churches and to introduce or dispose of certain items. The Church of England is exempt from parts of the secular planning process due to legislation called Faculty Jurisdiction. This means that Listed Building Consent is not required. However, in certain situations, if the works will alter the external appearance of the building, secular Planning Permission might be required as well as a faculty.
Some works do not need full faculty but can be done either under List A (no direct permission needed) or List B (Archdeacon’s permission needed). If in doubt, ask! The link to the Lists can be found here, as can a flow chart explaining the Faculty Process:
Online Faculty System
Most applications are made through the Online Faculty System.
From January 2023 PCCs and other relevant bodies have had to cover the cost of faculties. The nationally set fee has been set at £317 from 1st January 2023. This pays for the legal work of the Registry and Chancellor and does not come to the DAC. The advice of the DAC and its members and advisers remains free of charge to parishes.
However, remember that not all work will require a faculty fee. If the works come under List A or List B, then no fee is payable.
Who makes the final decision?
Despite common perceptions the DAC recommends the vast majority of applications it is asked to consider. Nevertheless, even in the event that the DAC – or Historic England or one of the amenity societies – could not recommend a piece of work, the Chancellor always makes the final decision and may grant a faculty anyway. The Chancellor cannot overrule the requirement of planning permission.
The DAC may recommend, may recommend with provisos, not objection or rarely, do not recommend. The majority of the time, works are recommended. Notwithstanding the DAC’s occasional do not recommend, this does not stop parishes making an application to the Chancellor and allowing him to make the decision.