After the period of church closures since March this year, we are now starting to prepare to re-open and return to our church buildings, albeit it in different ways to normal. This page brings together the guidance on various topics relating to church buildings, including information about providing safe access and carrying out building works during the pandemic.
Guidance on accessing and reopening church buildings:
There is extensive national guidance on various considerations relating to accessing and reopening buildings to different degrees:
- Advice on providing access to church buildings
- Risk assesment to help churches plan for reopening for public worship
- Keeping church buildings clean
Guidance on carrying out temporary safety works to buildings:
In order to make church buildings safe to access, it might be necessary to make physical changes. Most of these will be minor and temporary in nature, but some will require PCCs to obtain permissions.
National guidance has been issued, providing a broadbrush outline of the types of works that might be undertaken and the general principles to consider:
National guidance on permissions for temporary safety works
A Frequently Asked Questions has been prepared specifically for our diocese, which outlines in more detail the types of permissions that will be required for different types of works:
Leeds DAC guidance on permissions for making buildings safe (updated 29/06/2020 to include an outline of any permissions needed when reopening the church for worship within Covid-19 guidelines)
The diocesan guidance document will be developed and updated as we receive more queries and if the Diocesan Chancellor deems it appropriate to adjust his advice on what permissions are required. It currently covers works that might be necessary for the more immediate term in order to reopen church buildings for private prayer, but will be expanded to cover longer term changes that might be needed to cater to new formats of worship.
Security of church buildings:
Some churches will not yet feel ready or able to reopen, or will be opened on a reduced basis. Those churches may find the following guidance from West Yorkshire police helpful, which provides a list for security and safety checks:
Guidance on carrying out other works to buildings during the pandemic:
In addition to temporary safety works, there will be many routine building works or larger projects that have gone on hold during the pandemic.
It is now possible to carry out construction work, providing national guidance about safe working is followed. Further information is available in the national guidance document:
Opening church buildings for works to the building and interior
Before carrying out work to church buildings, the appropriate permissions must be obtained as usual. However, it is recognised that we are operating in unusual circumstances. In our diocese, the Chancellor has provided specific advice on matters relating to the operation of the Faculty Jurisdiction during this period of closure. This includes the removal of the requirement to post up physical public notices when you are applying for a faculty, with public consultation instead taking place via other means such as websites and social media. More information about this is available from the DAC staff.
Access for bell-ringing:
The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has produced its own specific advice on accessing churches for bell-ringing:
CCCBR advice on bell-ringing