The Faculty System in the Church of England


The Church of England’s system of planning control is governed by canon, ecclesiastical and heritage law.

In addition to the requirement for planning permission (i.e. the faculty), works to all Church of England buildings (whether listed or not) is controlled by the Consistory Courts of the Church. The faculty system is a judicial system (governed by primary legislation) which states that all works, alterations and additions to parish churches and contents require faculty approval. NB. Regular tuning & maintenance work to the organ does not require faculty approval.

It is the duty of the minister and churchwardens to obtain a faculty before carrying out any alterations. Works undertaken without a faculty are illegal and any person undertaking works without a faculty may be liable to both civil and criminal procedures. Hence, contractors are unwilling to proceed with any work unless a faculty is in place.

The Church of England encourages all parishes to seek the advice of their Diocesan Advisory Committee at as early a stage as possible. Each Diocese has at least one organ adviser who can offer guidance on matters related to the organs in his diocese. The Diocesan Secretary – secretary’s contact details are available within the Diocese section of this website – can provide contact details of the current adviser/s.

The IBO has produced a guidance leaflet on the faculty process and there is also comprehensive guidance at the Churchcare website.