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 access to church buildings during lockdown for clergy, churchwardens and PCC members
- Risk assesment to help churches plan for reopening for private prayer
- Advice on individual prayer by members of the public in church buildings
- Keeping church buildings clean
Guidance on 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: Guidance on permissions required for temporary safety works.
A Frequently Asked Questions document is under development by the DAC staff, which will outline in more detail the types of permissions that will be required for different types of works. This document will be available via this page soon and will be continually 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. In the meantime, for advice about what permission is needed for work you wish to carry out, contact the DAC staff or your Archdeacon directly.
More generally on works to church buildings of all types, the Diocesan 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. For further advice on this, contact the DAC.
Ecclesiastical has recently published new guidance on automatic door time locks, to facilitate keeping churches open during the day for visitors when it is not straightforward to arrange a person to attend to unlock ad then close the church each day. It is still desirable that a person who knows the church sees it regularly, but the automatic lock gives greater freedom over when this happens.
Historic England recently published new guidance on lightning protection. This guidance provides advice on the design, installation and maintenance of lightning protection systems for architects, surveyors, engineers and others involved in the care of historic buildings. Lightning protection is specialist work and requires expert design and installation.
New Updated Guidance from Historic England
Historic England has updated their guidance on Caring for Places of Worship. The new guidance can be accessed here: https://historicengland.org.uk/advice/caring-for-heritage/places-of-wors....
In response to a question generated by casework Ecclesiastical has produced a new guidance note on wood burning stoves. Its straightforward and clear guidance should be helpful to churches considering this form of heating. The note is part of the wider heating guidance provided by Ecclesiastical.
Some parishes are being targeted with material relating to a change in the energy marker in April 2018. Parish Buying has helpfully provided an explanation of this – and shows why it is not relevant to nearly every parish church. The changes relate only to electricity supplies that have half hourly meters.
Some companies (who are energy brokers) are using the changes as an excuse to contact parishes and then to sell them energy contracts. If you are unsure about whether you have a half hourly meter or have any questions then you can simply email or call Parish Buying using the details below and they will be able to give you the right advice whether or not you buy your energy through Parish Buying.
A full guidance note, with an illustration to help identify your type of electricity meter is here, please feel free to contact parish buying on 0800 368 0887 or by info [at] parishbuying.org.uk (email). It would be helpful if you could share this advice with any parishes concerned after receiving targeted advertising.
Discounts on LED lighting
Available for all CofE churches, dioceses and cathedrals, the Parish Buying Service have a new lighting supplier ‘LED Hut’. They are giving phenomenal discounts on bulbs to Parish Buying members. We encourage all churches to replace their old-style halogen bulbs with LED’s because they use up to 90% less energy than traditional lighting sources, with 90% less heat for the same light output. No mercury is used in the manufacture of LED bulbs, unlike the previous generation of low wattage CFL bulbs, and they have an average life of nearly fifty times more than a traditional incandescent light bulb and over six times more than compact florescent bulbs (which means less frequent bulb replacement, which means much less greenhouse gas produced in manufacture, distribution and installation). This not only reduces energy bills but also helps to save the environment.
To use the discounted pricing, churches (and cathedrals or dioceses) simply need to register for free with the Parish Buying Service. They can then create a LED Hut account to view the products and seek advice, if needed, on what to buy.
Historic England Emergency Plan guidance
There is some new guidance on Emergency Plans on the Historic England website. This is to help churches to establish plans for emergency situations such as fires and how to protect their church treasures during an emergency situation. The website includes a set of downloadable resources for churches to complete.