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Listings and Permissions

Before planning any structural work to your building, inside or out, including the removal of fittings such as seating or adding new facilities, you will need to find out if you need permission.

Scaffolding on church as work commences.
Scaffolding on church as work begins on repairs © Historic England

The starting point is to find out if your place of worship is:

  • A listed building
  • Eligible for ecclesiastical exemption
  • Subject to local authority listed building consent or planning permissions

What is a listed building?

A building is listed when it is of special architectural or historic interest considered to be of national importance and therefore worth protecting. A listed building is added to the National Heritage List for England. You can use this to discover whether your building is listed and if so, what grade it is. Listed buildings come in three categories of 'significance':

  • Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be internationally important
  • Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest
  • Grade II buildings are of special interest

What is Ecclesiastical Exemption?

The Ecclesiastical Exemption Order (2010) is the system that allows five denominations in the UK to operate their own statutory permissions systems, for repairs and some alterations, which are equivalent to the local authority listed building consent process. 

If you are within one of these denominations you will need to consult the relevant advisory committee. The five denominations are:

What if your building belongs to another denomination or faith?

If you are not part of the ecclesiastical exemption you will need to apply to your local planning authority about listed building consent. The Planning Portal will give you contact details for your local authority and your Historic England local team can help with informal advice on your proposed plans.

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