Advice by Topic for Places of Worship

There's a wide variety of reasons for change within places of worship. This section provides advice which will help you to consider the most common types of change.

Image of the interior of a church which has been reordered to include new pews
Extensive reorderings can raise many design challenges, from the size and finish of inserted structures to the type of seating or the installation of new heating and lighting. A thorough understanding of the significance of the building and its contents will be helpful in developing such a scheme. © Chris Costello
Image of the interior of a church which has been reordered to include new pews
Extensive reorderings can raise many design challenges, from the size and finish of inserted structures to the type of seating or the installation of new heating and lighting. A thorough understanding of the significance of the building and its contents will be helpful in developing such a scheme. © Chris Costello

Permission

Before you start any work you need to check which statutory obligations you must meet. Please see our getting permission page for more information on the permission process.

You'll need planning permission from your local authority if you're planning a new building, alteration or extension that will materially affect the building’s external appearance. You may also need consent from your denominational advisory body (if you are part of an exempt denomination) or your local authority to make changes to a listed building.

When you're developing a scheme, you may need to consult with bodies such as your denominational advisory body, your local authority, Historic England or others.

Statements of significance and need

As outlined in our advice on guiding principles, your application for permission to do the work will need to be supported by both a Statement of Significance and a Statement of Need.

Whilst not mandatory for all places of worship, we do encourage preparing both as a way to articulate, summarise and share information on both issues. Under the Church of England’s Faculty Jurisdiction Rules, parishes proposing significant alterations to their listed church building should provide a Statement of Significance and a Statement of Need.

Investigation, recording and analysis

Making changes to a place of worship provides an opportunity to investigate, record and analyse the evidence from those parts of the site which are affected. Your place of worship may have a large amount of important historic fabric and this can help you to better understand your building.

For more information on recording and analysis, please see the basic principles page.

Was this page helpful?

Next steps

External links