The Church Buildings Council have recently issued a new version of their guidance notes - Guidance for PCCs, incumbents and cathedral Chapters: opening church buildings for works to the building and interior - and have also issued a further guidance notes on building works - Guidance for churches and cathedrals on access to their buildings for construction work during lockdown
These guidance notes contain a lot of helpful information about maintaining church buildings during the current lockdown. We’ve been receiving some enquiries from parishes and thought it might be helpful to send some further advice, specific to this Diocese, on works to church buildings, permissions, and QIs during the lockdown.
Where there is a risk to health and safety or where the building will be damaged if urgent action is not taken (e.g. water leaks, stolen lead, break-ins etc), parishes are advised to proceed with repairs if possible. As ever, requests for interim faculties can be sent to the Registry by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) - the Chancellor usually responds to emergency requests within 24 hours.
Works in progress and new works
Where parishes have already got permission for works, it may be possible to continue ongoing works and/or start new projects. Parishes are advised to ask their contractor to produce a written method statement explaining how they will approach the works and confirming that social distancing will be possible on site, and then discuss the matter with their Inspecting Architect/Surveyor, their Archdeacon and Ecclesiastical. If all are happy that the works can be carried out safely, it may be possible to go ahead with the works.
Faculties and List B permissions
The DAC and Registry are doing their best to continue to progress faculty applications remotely and the Archdeacons are also continuing to authorise List B permissions as usual. If you have an application to submit, it would be helpful if you could submit it through the Online Faculty System, which is now fully operational and has been very helpful in enabling us to process applications remotely. Alternatively, you can send your application by email to email@example.com and the Church Buildings team will upload it to the Online Faculty System on your behalf.
The DAC advises that it may be possible for Inspecting Architects/Surveyors to carry out some quinquennial inspections. This will depend on the context and whether it is practical and safe for one person working alone to carry out the inspection. In some cases, it may make better sense to postpone either the whole inspection or those elements of the inspection that involve using ladders etc. Parishes who are due to have their QI this summer are encouraged to discuss the matter with their Inspecting Architect or Surveyor. If the Inspecting Architect/Surveyor wishes to go ahead with the QI, they should be asked to give a brief method statement explaining how they will tackle it and confirming that they feel it can be carried out safely.
Generally, the DAC feels that PCCs are best placed to risk assess and make decisions in relation to their own buildings, in light of their local context but please do feel free to get in touch with the Church Buildings team or your Archdeacon if you have any particular issues that it would be helpful to discuss.