Maintenance, repairs & wifi
What is a church?
- Canon F: Things appertaining to churches sets out the everyday equipping, caring and organisation of a church for worship. Its purpose is to guide churchwardens and others involved with parish administration. They list all the objects that make a building a church and how they should be cared for.
Care and Maintenance
- The Church Warden's responsibility for the fabric of a church is a general introduction to the duty of churchwardens for the fabric and care of their building.
- See also the section on Health, Safety and Security
- Grants for maintenance and development are available from a wide range of funders. Funding directories and regular updates on available grants can be found on the church buildings grants and news page
- Basic maintenance and care of your building using the correct methods and materials can save considerable time and money. Prevention is better than repair and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) provides a useful annual checklist to help you keep on top of repairs before they become costly.
- Historic England has launched a new paid-for service for organisations working on heritage building projects. These are a Fast Track Listing, Listing Screening Service, Listing Enhancement and Extended Pre-application Advice. Free services will continue to be offered alongside the enhanced services.
Building Conservation offers many useful articles on the conservation of church buildings and their contents. It explains the correct procedures and materials, describes common problems and the latest developments in conservation techniques. Recently added articles can be found here
The Church Property Register, Terrier and Inventory
Section 4 of the Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1991 requires churchwardens to compile and maintain a full terrier and inventory of all land and articles appertaining to their church. There is the requirement to maintain:
- Terrier - a list of lands belonging to the Church,
- Inventory - a list of all the items belonging to the church
- Log book - a detailed record of all the alterations, additions and repairs to the church, its land and contents
- Ensure the location of such documents is known and offsite copies kept.
Further details on the register, terrier and inventory can be found here
A guide to the keeping or relevant church records can be found here
Maintenance Booker offers valuable services to churches from professional firms such as gutter clearance and lightning conductor checks.
Listed places of worship can claim back the VAT on many of their repairs and professional costs
The Listed Places of Worship (LPOW) Grant Scheme offers grants to cover the VAT incurred in making repairs to listed buildings in use as places of worship. The scheme covers repairs to the fabric of the building, along with associated professional fees, plus repairs to turret clocks, pews, bells and pipe organs. This offers a potential reduction in costs of 20%. Click here to go to the LPOW website
Conservation reports are an essential first step in projects involving the repair and conservation of artworks and historic furnishings in churches. They are also a key document to support faculty and grant applications. The repair or conservation of many items requires professional skills and a detailed assessment of the impact of intervention and the materials and methods to be used.
Conservation Report grants are open to applications all year. The Church Buildings Council is pleased to support parishes as they embark on a conservation project by helping them get on a firm basis with a suitably detailed report.
Shrinking the Footprint is the Church of England’s national environmental campaign which supports the Church in reducing our carbon footprint. The Archbishop of Canterbury has said: “For the Church of the 21st century, good ecology is not an optional extra, but a matter of justice. It is therefore central to what it means to be a Christian.”
To get started in thinking about how you can reduce your parish’s carbon footprint, see their Taking Action checklist.
Telecommunications and wifi in churches
Churches are popular locations for telecom equipment as their height can offer the best means of providing high speed broadband and leased line internet access to local communities. As cable networks spread, the technology is likely to be relatively short-lived in urban areas but in rural areas such facilities can be long-term. The DAC will consider all applications for wifi or other telecommunication equipment on a case-by-case basis. If the external appearance of the church building is to change in any way, for example the replacement of wooden louvres with GDP, then planning permission from your local planning authority will be required in addition to a faculty.
Telecoms leases are different from most residential or business leases. As well as obtaining a faculty, it is essential that the PCC takes legal advice on the terms of the licence from a specialist telecommunications surveyor before entering into an agreement. A faculty should be in place and the terms of the licence agreed upon before the licence has been signed. You are strongly advised to employ a specialist chartered telecommunication surveyor who will be able to help you with the process and ensure the best terms.
Latest on wifi installations
The Church of England has signed an accord with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) setting out how churches and other church properties could host new digital infrastructure. The accord notes that:
“The [National Church Institutions] and HMG recognise that a modern telecommunications infrastructure is vital for a vibrant economy and inclusive society. By working together with mobile and broadband providers, we believe that we can help deliver improved connectivity, particularly in rural areas, and thereby bring about important practical benefits to congregations, local communities, local businesses and visitors alike.
We recognise that it may be possible to use some Church of England churches and other Church-held buildings or land to host digital infrastructure. This Accord recognises that, consistent with the long-standing role played by church buildings as a focus of community cohesion and spirit, by encouraging the wider use of such assets we can help improve connectivity and its consequential benefits to those areas where coverage does not currently exist, or where it is of poorer quality.”
However, it also states that:
“Individual parishes, and others with responsibility for Church buildings and land, will need to consider all the factors concerned with using Church land or buildings to host digital connectivity infrastructure. This Accord encourages them to do so within the context of their own priorities for mission, relevant planning controls, and their legal obligations both as an organisation and relating to the care of Church property, and appropriate guidance provided by the Church Buildings Council and Historic England.
This recognises that the Church comprises a number of autonomous entities and office holders with different legal obligations and that the property may also be subject to third party agreements. Such entities may also have their own aspirations for the use and development of their properties in support of the Church’s mission. Similarly, dioceses will, through their Diocesan Advisory Committees, need to balance the identified benefits of telecoms provision in the particular circumstances of the parish with other relevant factors.”
Also of relevance (and not only to members of the Church of England) is advice published in September 2017 by Historic England (HE) on what it needs to know in order to assess a proposal to install telecommunications equipment in a listed place of worship. HE is the statutory adviser to local authorities and the five listed denominations in accordance with the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 and the Ecclesiastical Exemption Order 2010. If an installation will make changes to historic fabric that could affect the character or significance of a listed building, HE must be consulted – whether a congregation is seeking permission through its denominational advisory body (DAC) or through the local authority.
The advice covers:
- The information that Historic England requires in order to offer relevant advice.
- Issues that will be of particular concern.
- The impact of the installation on the outside of the building.
- The impacts of the installation inside the building.
- Access to the equipment and the rest of the building.
- Safety issues.
- Possible archaeological implications.
Further helpful information can be found on the websites of the:
If your roof alarm is installed by one of Ecclesiastical Insurance's approved installers, the policy limits applying to their theft of metal (and subsequent damage) covers will not apply.
For this cover to be provided, the forensic marking solution Smartwater (or an agreed alternative forensic marker) must be additionally applied, registered and signage indicating its use prominently displayed
If a Church wishes to install a roof alarm from a non-approved installer and be eligible for this increased cover they must contact Ecclesiastical Insurance in the first instance.
*It is important to note that the improved cover only applies if churches meet the Roof Alarm Condition and the Theft of External Metal Condition detailed in the policy schedule.
Click here for information about the cover for metal theft when scaffolding is in place.
Please consult the relevant guidance below before submitting a faculy or List B application