Installing New Equipment, Cabling and Pipework

This page will help you with considerations regarding the visual and physical impacts of new services. This includes:

  • New equipment
  • New cabling or pipework
  • Planning other works including those in the Advice by Topic section.

Even if the impact of any one installation is minor, multiple small changes can cause harm to significance unless impacts are minimised.

Location, size and design

You can minimise the visual impact of new equipment by careful choice of location, size and design. In choosing a location it's best to take account of significant elements of the building and the principal views of the interior and exterior.

Depending on the type of equipment, you may be able to accommodate it discreetly in existing openings in walls, under eaves or at a high level in the interior where it'll be hidden. You can paint the casing of equipment to make it less obtrusive.

Understanding the building fabric

A good understanding of the fabric of your building is an advantage in designing the installation of services. We recommend that you involve the inspecting architect or surveyor for the place of worship to ensure that any proposals are appropriate.


You can usually plan fixings, cable runs and pipe routes to minimise their visual impact and their impact on the fabric of the building. It's important to respect the character of the building. For example don't cut through mouldings and decorative details while designing routes to minimise the lengths of cable runs.

You may be able to use existing service runs and breaches of masonry to make new additions less obtrusive. Fixings should normally be made into joints rather than into masonry. New equipment is often relatively ephemeral in the life of a building so you may wish to plan for its easy later removal where possible.

Taking the opportunity to investigate and record

New works may uncover parts of the building you don't usually see. So, when installing new services, you may be able to investigate and record more about the historic fabric of your building.

We recommend that you take the opportunity to learn more about your building to better understand how it developed and to help you plan future works. For example, scaffolding can provide access for closer inspection of the fabric and the recording of features which had not previously been apparent.

The level of recording, and the costs associated with it, should be proportionate to the significance of the affected area and the extent and nature of the alteration. The local Historic Environment Record (or Diocesan Archaeological Adviser (DAA) for Church of England churches) may be able to advise on the methodology.

Minimising ground disturbance

You may need to disturb the ground within and around your place of worship while carrying out works.

You will need to minimise ground disturbance if there is a need to protect significant buried remains and archaeological features. Getting an archaeological assessment before carrying out works will help you to understand the impact of large amounts of below-ground work.

See our page on cemeteries and burial grounds for more information.