A-Z Property Guidance

Below is a A-Z listing of topics for property guidance for churches. 

For manses, please refer to the Guidelines for Manses.    

The Property Steward's Handbook is now available to download

There are also dedicated pages for guidance for the following topics:

If you need assistance finding a contractor, the following may be of assistance:

Latest  updates to guidance:

1. Alcohol use on Methodist Property

Guidelines for districts and Connexional Property Committee
SO 922 - In general, the use of intoxicants on Methodist premises (and their advertisement or promotion) is prohibited. 

Non-alcoholic wine must be used in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  The sale or use of alcoholic drinks is not permitted in that part of the relevant premises in which worship has been identified as the primary use. 

However, the lawful supply, sale or use of alcohol may be approved in the following way:
 the trustees must seek approval from the District Policy Committee

(For all other property, approval is required from the Connexional Property Committee) (further detailed guidance is provided in Standing Order 922)  

SO 922 (3A) states:
Clause (1) above shall not preclude the lawful supply, sale or use of alcoholic drinks on Methodist premises, (other than any part of the relevant premises in which worship has been identified by the trustees as the primary use) if:

(i) a significant part of the mission and activity of the Methodist Church carried out on the relevant premises involves use of the premises as a conference centre; 

(ii) such supply, sale or use is solely in connection with an event taking place on those premises as part of such use; and 

(iii) such supply, sale or use is with the consent of the trustees given for the specific event and subject to such conditions as they may prescribe. 

The intention is to ensure that the use of alcohol is within the context of a conference centre, which is integral to the trustees’ mission objectives.

Guidelines for DPCs and the Connexional Property Committee

Ask Managing Trustees to:

  • set out their mission aims 
  • state in what ways a conference centre would be integral to their mission 
  • show how the use of alcohol would enhance the conference centre in helping fulfil their mission. 

 Published October 2014

2. Annual Returns

Schedules A and C and their supplements (check lists) as well as Schedule D are now part of the ANNUAL RETURNS section of the Methodist Online Suite of Applications

Registration information and guidance documents can be accessed on the Online Suite guidance page

We have made some significant changes to the Annual Returns update to help make it more efficient and relevant to the current needs of the wider Church.  One of the most significant changes users will notice is the drastic reduction in the number of questions. The feedback from managing trustees over the years has been consistent: there were too many questions being asked on the portal.  The questions now focus on Action for Hope and the mission of churches and circuits. These questions will be fed in to the work that the Connexional Team does and help assess the impact of these initiatives.  

However, the questions that were previously on the return have not entirely gone away. They now form The Managing Trustee Annual Returns Checklist (Word) or (pdf version). This makes it easier for us to adapt the questions as the needs of the church change over time, but also make it easier for you to submit the information to your circuits and districts, but also store them for your own records. 

The Managing Trustee Annual Returns Checklist (Word) or (pdf version) contains questions that used to appear within the annual returns checklist.  However, although they been removed, they may still assist you in fulfilling your obligations as a managing trustee. Please note that this is not a complete list, merely guidance to ensure that you keep in mind certain areas of responsibility on an annual basis.  It is suggested that reference should be made to specific District or Circuit requirements.

Guidance Notes for Annual Inspection can be found here.

3. Asbestos
It is a legal requirement (Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006) that the Managing Trustees have a “duty to manage” any risk from asbestos in church buildings and any other non-domestic premises.
The first stage is to prepare a risk assessment to determine whether asbestos is present in your buildings. If it is, there are only two options:
  1. High risk - the asbestos must be removed
  2. Low risk - it can be sealed and left in position, together with warning notices and possibly minor repair.

There has been some misunderstanding about the requirement for the initial survey and subsequent inspections of asbestos. The initial survey should be undertaken by a specialist who will prepare a formal report which should be kept in the church log book. It is then the Church Council as Managing Trustees who have the responsibility as duty holders to manage the ongoing risk by having regular inspections, which can range from 6 months to 1 year depending on the type and location.    
The HSE Guide to Managing Asbestos states: The duty to manage asbestos is contained in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. It requires the person who has the duty (ie the ‘duty holder’) to:

  • Take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, the scale of the problem, where it is and what condition it is in; 
  • Presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not; 
  • Make, and keep up to date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials (ACMs) or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos; 
  • Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the ACMs; 
  • Prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed; 
  • Take the necessary steps to put the plan into action; 
  • Periodically review and monitor the plan as well as check the asbestos, ensuring the arrangements and the condition of asbestos remains safe, relevant and up to date;
  • Provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.  
There is also a requirement on anyone to cooperate as far as is necessary to allow the duty holder to comply with the above requirements.
In the case of Methodist churches, the duty holder is the Church Council as Managing Trustees, having clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of the premises. 
What premises are affected?
The duty to manage covers all non-domestic premises.  Such premises include all industrial, commercial or public buildings such as factories, warehouses, offices, shops, hospitals and schools.
Manses are also included by reason that the responsibility for maintenance and repair rests with the Circuit Meeting, with the incumbent treated as a ‘tenant’ under the act.  Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, we do not have a duty to manage asbestos risks in private houses, manses, individual flats, private rooms above churches, rooms let to lodgers or domestic garages let to a specific tenant.
However, the situation is not quite that simple for two reasons - responsibility for common areas and the existence of other relevant health and safety legislation.

The duty to manage asbestos applies to the common areas of purpose built flats and houses converted into flats, such as foyers, corridors, staircases, roof spaces, gardens, lifts and lift-shafts.  Similarly, it applies to the stairs and access areas of flats above or attached to churches and other similar premises.  It would also apply to an area used for temporary accommodation of visitors, such as a Christmas centre for rough sleepers (but not to private visitors of the occupier) and to any ‘Houses in Multiple Occupancies’, that is any properties which are let or tenanted to two or more people who do not form a single family unit.

We can be responsible for the repair of premises or equipment in these areas and will be regarded as the duty holder.  As such, we will be responsible for carrying out a survey to identify any asbestos containing materials in the property, drawing up a management plan and informing contractors / tradesmen about the presence of asbestos before they undertake any work.
Asbestos can be found in a wide range of items in domestic properties, including ceiling tiles, insulating board, pipe insulation, sprayed and textured coatings, cement, fire doors and wall cladding.  It is often difficult to identify, so to ensure we comply with the regulations, we should assume asbestos is present in any property that was built or underwent major refurbishment work between 1950 and 1999.
Not all the asbestos containing materials identified will need to be removed, but it is sensible to seek advice from an asbestos specialist about whether or not they are safe and what steps need to be taken before any type of work is done to the property.

Other Relevant Health and Safety Legislation

One thing all residential landlords need to be aware of is the Defective Premises Act 1972, which requires reasonable care to ensure that tenants and visitors are safe from personal injury and illness caused by the condition of the premises.

Although asbestos is not specifically mentioned it is covered by the Act, which applies to all domestic properties - including those even where there is no specific duty to manage under the Control of Asbestos Regulations.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires all rented property to be fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and further requires the landlord to maintain that basic standard.  Any property that features asbestos containing materials that are in an unsafe condition may not comply with the Act.  Under this act, section 8 ‘property’ includes ‘a part of a house, and any yard, garden, outhouses and appurtenances belonging to the house or usually enjoyed with it.’

Further, when we employ staff (including volunteers) to look after the properties, we also need to ensure compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.  This includes a general obligation for employers to conduct their activities in such a way that workers are not exposed to health and safety risks, such as asbestos.

While trying to identify which pieces of legislation apply to any particular rented property may be a little confusing, ensuring compliance with all the regulations is more straightforward.  If we ensure that we follow expert advice and best practice for asbestos management, we ensure a safe environment for tenants and workers, as well as making certain we minimise any legal problems. 

The Health & Safety Executive produces comprehensive information about asbestos.  
Here are some basic principles to remember:
  • Asbestos is only dangerous when disturbed. If it is safely managed and contained, it doesn’t present a health hazard. 
  • Don’t remove asbestos unnecessarily; removing it can be more dangerous than leaving it in place and managing it. 
  • Not all asbestos materials present the same risk. The measures that need to be taken for controlling the risks from materials such as pipe insulation are different from those needed in relation to asbestos cement. 
  • Don’t assume you need to bring in a specialist in every case (for example, you can inspect your own building rather than employ a surveyor).  But are you competent to be able to identify the various types of asbestos that might be present - either as a pipe insulation or hidden as a constituent material within a product (such as floor tiling, paint, etc)? And do you know what level of hazard is associated with each type? 
  • If you are unsure about whether certain materials contain asbestos, you should presume they do and treat them as such. 
  • Remember that 'the duty to manage' is all about putting in place the practical steps necessary to protect maintenance workers and others from the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres. It is not about removing all asbestos but ensuring that it is checked regularly (between 6 months to a 1 year).  

If any ACMs need to be sealed, encapsulated or removed, remember you will need to employ a licensed contractor if the materials are high risk (eg pipe insulation and asbestos insulating panels).

If the materials are lower risk (eg asbestos cement), then an unlicensed but competent contractor may carry out this work.

How do duty holders comply?
Find - you must check if materials containing asbestos are present or are liable to be present;

Condition - you must check what condition the material is in;
Presume - you must assume the material contains asbestos unless you have strong evidence that it does not; 
Identify - if you are planning to have maintenance or refurbishment of the building carried out or the material is in poor condition, you may wish to arrange for the material to be sampled and identified by a specialist;
Record - record the location and condition of the material on a plan or drawing;
Assess  - you must decide if the condition or the location means the material is likely to be disturbed; 
Plan -  prepare and implement a plan to manage these risks, including regular inspections.  
When finding a professional to carry out the survey, it is best practice to obtain 3 quotes.  Principles for finding a suitable professional can be found on the HSE website under Selecting a Competent Surveyor.
Further useful information can be found here:
Managing Trustees should also bear in mind that a risk assessment is needed in order to satisfy the conditions of your insurance policy.
We realise that these regulations may be imposing a considerable additional burden on local churches, but the government now believes that asbestos poses such a danger to health that it considers a risk assessment to be essential. 
Updated February 2021 include new links and references to regular inspections of asbestos 
4. Building Access Audits

Please review the guidance on the Making Buildings Accessible, which includes The Methodist Church Access Audit and the Accessibility Audit Action Plan.   

5. Burial Ground Maintenance

Maintenance of Burial Grounds: Guidance

Who is responsible for them?

Until a burial ground is disposed of (rather than closed), the Managing Trustees of the Church to which it belongs remain responsible for it.  This may be the Circuit Meeting rather than the Church Council, if trusteeship has been delegated or the local church has ceased worship.  In any case, it is important to keep a record of whose care it is in.  

Individual 'plots' within the ground are the responsibility of the plot owner, or their successor in title.  However, where the owner cannot be traced, usually due to the length of time, then it falls again to the Managing Trustees.

Why does this matter?

There is no denying that care of a burial ground can be costly and onerous.  That being said, the consequences of chronic neglect are often much worse.

Keeping a burial ground neat and tidy will prevent alienation of the community (a potential source of support), as well as vandalism and anti-social behaviour from taking place on the site.  Sensitivity to relatives of the deceased will encourage further burials and help to manage reputational risk.

Practical Tips

  • It is important to have in place a long term plan outlining the maintenance requirements of the burial ground in question.  This may include grass cutting, planting and upkeep of flowers, care of trees and shrubs and maintenance of boundary and internal walls, gates and fences.  Health and safety concerns should be paramount and a risk management approach must be taken.
  • Other denominations have had some success in recruiting ‘Friends of,’ groups of volunteers to help maintain the grounds.  The National Federation of Cemetery Friends offers guidance on setting up such groups.
  • Where a burial ground is an eyesore or poses a particular risk, consider hiring a local person to do the work if practicable.  In either case, ultimate responsibility for the burial ground will still rest with the Managing Trustees.  Some organisations, such as the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, provide training courses in burial ground management.
  • Other denominations in rural areas recommend keeping sheep or goats on the grounds to keep grass trimmed.  If so, Managing Trustees may require a licence (often free) and health and safety concerns (the risk of escape, flowers placed by graves being eaten, etc.) must be borne in mind.
  • Responsibility for the maintenance of burial grounds can be transferred to Local Authorities under the Open Spaces Act 1906.  Unlike for Anglican Burial Grounds, this is completely discretionary: indeed, the Church has unsuccessfully lobbied on this in the past.  Even so, it is not unheard of and may be more likely in areas that are lacking other community spaces.
  • Ensure that burial grounds are considered as part of quinquennial inspections.   Ask your Surveyor to comment on their general state, as well as the safety of monuments, boundary walls, fences and trees.  Ensure that s/he can identify Japanese Knotweed.
  • If maintenance of the burial ground may not be feasible in the long term, consider preventing further burials on the site.  This will simplify matters if the burial ground is eventually disposed of or sold by way of the grant of a long lease. Gently inform relatives of the deceased of the possible repercussions of choosing to bury their loved one in a Methodist burial ground.  They must be made aware that the Church is generally not legally obliged to accommodate their wishes, even where their family members are also buried there.
  • If Managing Trustees do see fit to allow further burials, it is vital that a careful record is kept of who is buried where.

Other sources

Please note that the law which applies to Methodist Burial Grounds differs from the law in respect of Anglican cemeteries. 

This guidance note is no substitute for seeking legal advice.  
October 2021

6. Burial Grounds - Closing and/or Disused

Burial grounds can cause a great amount of anxiety for Local Churches, Circuits and those living in the vicinity of a burial ground.  The Burial Ground Guidance available on TMCP’s website is a good place to start to understand Managing Trustees’ responsibilities in relation to their burial grounds and what steps to take before closing a burial ground, moving headstones, building on a burial ground or rendering graves inaccessible. The Ministry of Justice’s guide, Managing the Safety of Burial Ground Memorials,  also provides helpful guidance on health and safety and general management issues.

Selling a Burial Ground

For Managing Trustees considering selling a burial ground, please refer to the Burial Ground Sale Focus Note.  Please contact TMCP if you require the password to access this guidance note which is in the password protected part of TMCP’s website to keep it within the Church family.

Click here to view an example of a church that moved headstones with care and compliance for 2 disused burial grounds.  

TMCP is currently preparing some Burial Ground FAQs to address common queries raised by Managing Trustees on burial grounds. Please contact TMCP with any particular questions so that we can ensure these are covered.

Listed buildings and Burial Grounds

Where a church is a listed building, it is possible that the memorials and headstones in an adjoining burial ground also fall within the listing. You should therefore speak with the Connexional Conservation Officer before making any proposals for the burial ground.  Contact details can be found here.    

Published February 2020


TMCP as Custodian Trustees have a registration (notification) with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) which a church who installs CCTV is covered under.  TMCP have provided some useful information on FAQs regarding Data Protection.  Question 4 includes a  link to the cctv-code-of-practice.pdf.  

If the building is Listed Building, you would need to contact the Connexional Conservation Officer for specific guidance.  

8. Church Organ Advisory Service

The Organ Advisory Service is often met with the statement, “Oh – we did not contact you because we thought you were only interested in pipe organs!”
While it is true that they encourage churches to consider a pipe organ as their first option (especially if the church already has one), it does not mean that they are unwilling (or unable) to help if the Church Council has decided upon an electronic alternative.
Manufacturers, importers and stockists of electronic organs all quite naturally want to offer their advice to select an instrument from the range being offered. Whilst a few may just apply gentle persuasion, others can be more forceful. These may range from the local music retailer who has the ‘unrepeatable bargain’ to international companies who may employ quite aggressive marketing techniques.
Within the Methodist Organ Advisory Service there is the knowledge and expertise to give informed, impartial, advice, not only concerning selection and purchase, but also maintenance prospects as no electric, electronic or digital equipment is ‘maintenance-free.'

  • How soon can we reasonably expect attention in the event of a breakdown?
  • What is likely to be the cost of a ‘post-guarantee’ maintenance contract and what are its long- term expectations?

Churches are strongly advised to avoid electronic organs of the ‘entertainment’ style, ie those that have 2 short, ‘staggered’ keyboards and 13 short pedals. These instruments are only really designed for those musical styles where one plays the melody with the right hand, chord patterns with the left and a single bass note with the left foot. While such an instrument can be adequate for the playing of popular melodies and some worship songs, it is most unsatisfactory for the playing of standard hymns, and impossible for the performance of any part of the organ repertoire.
Although more expensive, an organ with two full-size keyboards and a standard pedal board will make it possible to play hymns, worship songs, standard organ repertoire and everything else – including entertainment music, if required.
Be advised also that the life of an electronic organ can be limited, with electronic and digital components requiring replacement, often at a cost in excess of the original instrument.  With regular maintenance and tuning, a pipe organ can have a life considerably in excess of any electronic substitute, although it is recognised that the space requirements for a pipe organ are greater.  Churches should make their own enquiries with regard to maintenance costs to ensure that best value is obtained.

The Methodist Church benefits from the Organ Advisory Service which can be contacted the advisor, Malcolm Starr on malcolmstarr@hotmail.com or telephone on 01400 281 291. 

Or alternatively, the National Pipe Organ Register can be searched.  

Published October 2014

9. Closed Church Buildings (Updated Dec 2023)

When a church ceases to meet, there are various steps that need to be taken as part of the closure process.  The Guidance on Closed Church Buildings was created collaboratively by the Conference Officer for Legal, Constitutional Practice, the Law and Polity Committee, TMCP, the Property Development Committee, the Heritage Committee and the Property Support team.  The aim of the guidance is to provide useful information, including a checklist and templates, to assist with this process.  

Click here to view a pdf version of checklist or click here for a Word version.  

Methodist Insurance has guidance on empty church buildings from an insurance point of view.  Click here to read the guidance.  

Additionally, click here for further pastoral support and guidance on Endings.  

Updated November 2023

10. Consents


The property consents site can be accessed via the Online Suite of Applications. It allows you to create and progress the following types of property projects (please note that you need to have managing trustee permissions to do so):

  • Repairs and alterations including extensions and demolitions
  • Lettings / sales / purchases / easements
  • Sharing Agreements

If you unsure if Consent is required, answer these questions on the Consents Flowchart.   


The Help & Guidance pages for the consents site have been revised and updated in March 2019 and can be accessed here: https://propertyconsent.methodist.org.uk/guide

The Guide consists of the following main sections:

  • Basic Principles, which explains how to use the site;
  • Roles & Responsibilities, which shows the differences between user levels and permissions;
  • User Profiles & Permissions, which enables new users to get started;
  • Project Types, which goes through each tab that needs to be completed depending on the project type (such as sale or purchase);
  • Creating Projects, which is especially useful for those who are new to the site;
  • Progressing Projects, which helps users to see how to reach the next stage of a project;
  • Funding & Payments, which lists the fund types and various funding sources, including replacement projects;
  • Reporting & Alerts, which clarifies when alerts are sent and how to create and print reports;
  • Properties, which deals with the property section of the consents site;
  • Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas, which refers to legal requirements and procedures.

The Frequently Asked Questions have also been updated and structured to match the main guidance and include queries such as how to add a project, why a sale or lease project requires a cost to be entered, why some funding sources do not appear on the Payments tab, or how to upload documents. A list of all FAQs can be accessed directly via: https://propertyconsent.methodist.org.uk/guide-faq


For any website-related queries, contact the Web Applications Team: consents@methodistchurch.org.uk

For District-related queries, contact your District Property Secretary or your local Consents Enabler.

More information on and for Consents Enablers can be found here.

11. Conservation

Please refer to the Conservation pages or contact the Connexional Conservation Officer

12. Covid 19


Scotland – please refer to Coronavirus in Scotland 

Wales –please refer to the Covid 19 Guidance 

For specific guidance in the Isle of Man and Channel Islands (Guernsey & Jersey), please follow the links for specific local regulations and guidance.

Covid 19 will remain a public health issue and guidance is being replaced with public health advice.  HSE no longer require for Covid 19 risk assessments to be conducted or have special measures in place.  As well, the following restrictions have been removed: 

  • Removing the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test;
  • No longer ask fully vaccinated close contacts and those under the age of 18 to test daily for 7 days, and remove the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate;
  • Revoke The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations;
  • Routine contact tracing with also end.

Further information on this can be found here – Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).  

What churches might still consider going forward?

The Government is still encouraging safer behaviours to reduce the risk of infection.  Churches may still wish to consider these to help those using their buildings feel safe and welcome:

  1. Consider letting fresh air in if possible:

Try to maintain adequate ventilation to rooms, where possible and practical.  See - Ventilation of indoor spaces to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

  1. Consider wearing face coverings in areas of high risk:

It may be suitable in crowded or enclosed spaces, particularly if ventilation is poor, to wear face coverings, particularly where you share spaces with people you do not normally meet.

  1. Considerations if feeling unwell:

Anyone experiencing Covid-19 symptoms should still consider taking a test and staying at home and avoiding contact with others if the test is positive.  Particularly if working in higher risk environments or with those who might be vulnerable.

  1. Consider how to encourage ongoing good hygiene practice:

It may be helpful to continue to provide hand sanitiser in convenient areas for everyone to use; keep established practices of cleaning surfaces touched regularly and rooms with high use by different groups such as toilets and kitchens.  Similarly, continue to encourage good hygiene when considering handling shared objects, communal resources and food & drink.

Other helpful links include:   

Other useful links include:

If you have a specific question, please contact your District Property Secretary or Property Support 

13. Defibrillator

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a portable life saving device that can give a casualty’s heart an electric shock, when it has stopped beating normally in a sudden cardiac arrest. By using a defibrillator before an ambulance arrives, you can significantly increase someone’s chance of survival.  

For details on whether your community needs a defibrillator, how to fund one, and where to purchase one please see the British Heart Foundation website.  

Having a public access defibrillator available in an emergency can be life-saving. This is particularly true in rural areas where ambulance response times may be longer. As community buildings, often centrally located within our towns and villages, our churches can play a key part in creating a nation of life savers. The installation of AED’s on our buildings are therefore encouraged and often supported.

HSE state that Health and safety legislation does not require you to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) in your workplace. Where an employer has identified through their needs assessment that they wish to provide an AED in the workplace, then the Provision and Use of Workplace Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) apply. For the purpose of complying with PUWER in these situations, the employer should provide information and written instructions, for example from the AED's manufacturer, on how to use it. However, fuller training is likely to make the user more confident and is now an integral part of the syllabus for FAW and EFAW courses.  Further information can be found here.


If the building is listed, you will need to get consent from the Connexional Conservation Officer.  Click here to learn how to do this.  

14. Demolition and Deconstruction
There may come a time when consideration is being given to the deconstruction, demolition or partial demolition of any building and the following notes may be useful.
Demolition is the tearing down of buildings and other man-made structures. Demolition contrasts with deconstruction, which involves taking a building apart while carefully preserving valuable elements for reuse, repurposing, recycling and waste management purposes. It should be noted that any demolition of a Methodist building should first start with an appraisal of any elements such as monuments, glass, woodwork or items of heritage that should be carefully removed and stored for reuse, if possible.
Deconstruction is commonly separated into two categories; structural and non-structural. Nonstructural deconstruction, also known as “soft-stripping”, consists of reclaiming non-structural components, appliances, doors, windows, and finish materials. The reuse of these types of materials is commonplace and considered to be a mature market. Structural deconstruction involves dismantling the structural components of a building. Traditionally this had only been performed to reclaim expensive or rare materials such as used brick, dimension (natural) rock or stone, and extinct woods.
In the UK, it is usual for companies involved in this type of work to be called ‘Demolition Companies’ and so we will use that term, although we acknowledge that deconstruction is probably more accurate and in keeping with the report and study guide ‘Hope in God’s Future’, with proper planning, careful handling and a green approach to the removal of materials it is possible to achieve a landfill diversion rate of above 90%.
Important considerations around demolition There are two types of demolition – complete or partial removal. Complete demolition involves the removal of all traces of the building above ground. This process is common and easily achieved by a competent demolition company. Partial demolition is trickier as support will be required for the remaining structure, which may include window strutting, floor props and shoring. It may also involve a lot of additional planning and effort as powered equipment may be unsuitable.
You must inform your local authority (England and Wales) in writing at least six weeks in advance of your intention to demolish (the building control department usually deals with demolitions). In Scotland, you must have a demolition warrant prior to starting. Utilities providers and adjacent or adjoining building owners must also be informed in advance, especially if party walls will be affected. Some buildings do not require notification such as: 
  • Buildings under 1750 cubic feet / 50 cubic metres 
  • Temporary buildings, standing for no more than 28 days 
  • Attached greenhouses, prefabricated garages, conservatories or sheds
  • Detached agricultural buildings

However, prior to demolition you should check with your local authority to ensure compliance with any local by-laws. This is particularly pertinent for properties in the Scotland District, which require a warrant, and those in the Island districts, where you must consult your local authority as regulations differ.

If you are looking to demolish a Methodist property, you will need to create a project on the Property Consent website (https://online.methodist.org.uk) to apply for consent.  Further guidance is given within the Property Consents Help and Guidance pages: https://propertyconsent.methodist.org.uk/guide/123

Any work on a listed building or in a conservation area should be notified to the Conservation Officer (conservation@methodistchurch.org.uk) as soon as possible. 

Pre-demolition requirements
The local authority will specify pre-demolition requirements, which may include shoring, protection of adjacent buildings against damage, collapse or water damage, debris-disposal and safety measures. 
Detailed survey
As a managing trustee, you are expected to seek professional advice for all medium to large-scale projects. You should therefore commission a report from a structural engineer to assess the method of demolition and carry out a detailed survey that should include the impact of removing parts of the structure and the effect of demolition on neighbouring properties. 
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) apply. This results in Health and Safety duties being transferred to the designer, contractor, and site workers. More information is available on the HSE website (www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/demolition.htm). 
Experienced contractors
Use an experienced contractor as demolition is skilled and potentially dangerous work. 
Be aware of asbestos, you should commission a pre-demolition asbestos survey even if you have had a negative asbestos survey previously, then, if required, employ a specialist contractor to remove any asbestos materials from site before demolition starts, or ensure your demolition contractor has such expertise upon which they can call. 
Salvage materials
As noted above, always think about salvaging materials and components such as bricks, tiles, slates and timber.
Updated February 2019
15. Document Retention

“For how long should we keep copies of documents (quinquennial inspection reports and the like)?”
This is a question often asked by those District and Circuit Officers whose storage capacities are limited. There does not appear to be any formal policy on the matter, but officers should be mindful of the Standing Order SO 903 Care of Deeds and ‘other’ documents (which imply that all QIRs should be retained, as it speaks in the plural); 941, 954 (viii; ix), and 966.
The log book also has to record QIRs. The considered view is that QIR and other property documents will need to be kept for at least the period set out in the Limitation Act (latent damages), since it is possible that a church may wish to prove that a professional may have given negligent advice.
From a practical and prudent aspect, district officers should retain the most up-to date records and those records where they are still valid within the Limitation Act. When there is a system in place whereby this information is stored online, this will not be a problem.
It has further been suggested that not everything requires retention. The originator of the document (the QI inspector) and the circuit (in the case of manses) should keep the records. However, the present QIR and the previous one are probably sufficient to allow comparisons to be made.
Guidelines for retaining records - http://www.methodist.org.uk/ministers-and-officeholders/archivists 

Published October 2014

16. Electric Car Charging

If you have car parking that is sufficiently used, EV charging points for electric cars can work out cost neutral or earn a small amount of income for the church. Note, they will increase the church’s own energy use, but will support the uptake of electric cars. They could be good in combination with solar PV panels.

Further information can be found on this Brief Guide to Electric Car Charging

The Government has introduced a Workplace Charging Scheme that will provide grants for organisations to purchase and install electric vehicle (EV) charging points – applicant can receive grant funding of up to £350 per socket (with a limit of 40 sockets across all sites per applicant). Guidance for charities and small accommodation businesses applying to the scheme can be found here.

17. Electrical - Inspections and Checking

Everyone should be aware that electrical installations need to be checked from time to time to ensure that they are safe. The following comments are intended to help Managing Trustees understand the position – but, as always, please remember that it is essential that trustees keep abreast of changes and obtain independent professional advice whenever necessary (the architect or surveyor who carries out your quinquennial inspections should be able to advise you further).  The legal and technical information should always be consulted for full details.

It is important to remember the distinction between the electrical installation (Item 1 below), and portable electrical appliances (Item 2), which are covered by different regulations.

From January 2005, electrical work in manses (i.e. domestic property) has been subject to Building Regulations consent – Approved Document P (Electrical Safety).  The current addition was published in 2010 and revised in 2013 and can be found here.

1. Electrical installations 

The Institute of Electrical Engineers Wiring Regulations, which have been adopted as a British Standard, require that all fixed installations be tested for safety at least once every 5 years (unless they fall into the categories below).  Although this is not a mandatory document, it is normally a requirement of insurance policies and Health & Safety risk assessments that recommendations in this document are followed. 

Installations should also be tested and examined after major rewiring or alterations to the installation. 

A competent person registered with an electrical self-certification scheme authorised by the Secretary of State should carry out these tests. The professional bodies which currently authorises who are registered electricians for domestic electrical work are: 

They will provide:

  • A written report Periodic Inspection Report for an Electrical Installation. 
  • The certificate, test results schedule and inspection report, as applicable, should all be kept with the log-book.
  • State when the electrical installation should next be tested and examined. 

The table below provides guidance on the frequency of formal inspections of electrical installations as well as routine checks.

Type of installation  Routine check Maximum period
between inspections and testing

(see notes below)


Change of occupancy / yearly 5 years 1

Church installations

1 year 5 years (Quinquennially) 2

Village halls /
Community centres

1 year 5 years 1,2

Emergency lighting

Daily / monthly 3 years 2,3,4

Fire alarms

 Daily / weekly / monthly 1 year 2,4,5

Reference key

  1. Particular attention must be taken to comply with the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 (S.I. 2002/2665). 
  2. S1 1988 N0 635 The Electricity at Work Regulations. 
  3. See BS5266: Part 1: 1988 Code of practice for the emergency lighting. 
  4. Other intervals are recommended for testing operation of batteries and generators. 
  5. See BS 5839 Part 1: 2013 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings and Code of practice for design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of systems in non-domestic premises

Please note: 
After testing the above installations the competent person may determine the maximum period between inspections should be less than those stated.

The ‘routine check’ should be carried out by someone who is competent to understand the electrical system, but need not be electrically skilled. The check should look for any wear and deterioration, missing parts, correct labelling, security of enclosures and operation of test buttons etc.  Notes about this ‘routine check’ should be included in the log book.
2. Portable electrical equipment

The following guidance has been prepared by the Health and safety Executive (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg107.htm) in order to help employers and the self employed comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989:

What is Portable Electrical Equipment? 

Generally any piece of electrical equipment which has a plug fitted, e.g. kettles, heaters, computers, photocopiers, extension leads. 

What does the law require me to do? 

The law requires portable electrical equipment to be operated and maintained in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions. This includes adhering to the guidance on testing and examination. Further information can be found in the following Health and Safety Executive document: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/hsg107.pdf 

Do I need to have every piece of electrical equipment electrically tested? 

Not every piece of equipment requires testing. A simple and inexpensive system for looking for visual signs of damage or faults will control most of the electrical risks. However, some appliances (refer to practical guidance) may require more thorough testing such as earth bond, continuity, insulation, earth leakage and flash testing. 

What can I do? 
The appliance should be switched off before looking for signs of:

  • damage, e.g. cuts or abrasion to cable leads 
  • damage to the plug (e.g. casing cracks or bent pins) 
  • on-standard joints e.g. twisted taped joints or leads badly extended 
  • the outer covering (sheath of cable not being gripped where it enters the plug or the equipment, i.e. where the internal wires are showing) 
  • damage to the outer cover of the equipment, loose or missing parts. Any damaged or suspected faulty equipment should be taken out of service until it has been suitably repaired or replaced. 

Who can carry out the testing? 

Any qualified electrician can carry out these tests – e.g. an approved contractor from the electrical self-certification scheme (see (1) above). 

How would I be able to demonstrate to the Environment Directorate that I have complied with the law? 

Your copies of test certificates and records would verify this, and may prove crucial in the event of an inspection or litigation. 

Practical guidance: suggested initial intervals

Equipment/environment  User checks Formal visual inspections Combined inspection and testing
Battery operated: (less than 20 Volts No No No
Extra low voltage: (less than 50 volts AC e.g. telephone, low voltage desk lights No No No
Information technology, e.g. desktop computers, VDU screens. No Yes, 2-4 years No, if double insulated otherwise up to 5 years
Photocopiers, fax machines, rarely moved No Yes, 2 - 4 years No, if double insulated otherwise up to 5 years
Double insulated equipment: NOT hand held. Moved occasionally, e.g. fans, table lamps, projectors No Yes, 2 - 4 years No
Double insulated equipment: HAND-HELD e.g. some floor cleaners Yes Yes, 6 months to 1 year No
Earthed equipment (Class 1): e.g. electric kettles, toasters Yes Yes, 6 months to 1 year Yes, 1 - 2 years
Cables (leads) and plugs connected to the above. Extension leads (mains voltage) Yes Yes, 6 months to 4 years depending on the type of equipment it is connected Yes, 1 - 5 years depending on the type of equipment it is connected


You should also check any requirements in your insurance policy, Methodist Insurance produce several guidance notes – tel: 0161 833 9698. 

Updated February 2019

18. Electrical Services - General

The Legal Position

All places of worship are covered by the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. They state that any installation that complies with the IEE Wiring Regulations, BS7671, will be deemed to comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations. These are basic guidelines intended for trustees to make available to specifiers and electrical contractors to help in the preparation of tenders, specifications and proposals for new electrical installations, alterations, routine maintenance or minor works to churches. 

Only registered approved members of NICEIC, ECA, or NAPIT should be employed to carry out new installations, alterations, maintenance, and minor works. Only the highest standard of workmanship should be allowed. Operatives should be skilled tradesmen, who are aware of the community, historic and architectural importance of our buildings.  They should be particularly made aware of any uses that are outside the ‘norm’ for a church.  Such uses would include, and this is not an exhaustive list, any overnight accommodation, use as schools, especially those that cater for pre-school children, any water based activities and use by the elderly, especially those suffering dementia.

Existing Electrical Installations 

The electrical installation should be fully tested and inspected every five years in accordance with BS7671 (IEE regulations guidance Note No 3) by a registered NICEIC, ECA, or NAPIT contractor. The inspection certificate/report should be held in the church log book.

  • Code 1 defects -  (definition - ‘adversely affects the safety level of the installation’) arising from the inspection, MUST RECEIVE IMMEDIATE ATTENTION.
  • Code 2 defects (definition - ‘requires improvement’) should be attended to as soon as possible. 

Installations over five years old should also be subject to annual routine checks. 
New Installation Works 

1. General

New installations or alterations require a project through the consents website and the relevant approvals. Minor maintenance or replacement work may be permitted under CPD 930. All work must be carried out in accordance with BS7671 (IEE regulations latest edition including amendments).

It is advisable for the church architect to be involved at an early stage, so that any installation undertaken involves minimal disturbance of the fabric of the building and is aesthetically appropriate.

Any work on a listed building or building in a conservation area will require consent and advice should be taken at an early stage from the Conservation Officer based in Manchester.
2. Lighting Installation

A lighting system should be designed to provide: 

  • Sufficient general lighting to enable users of the building to read and follow the Service, as well as move about without health and safety risks. 
  • Feature lighting to enhance the architecture.
  • Good flexibility of control to match the activity or mood to the visual environment. It is also essential, when planning an installation, to consider the prospective use of the building, the possible wider community use, and to have efficiency, maintenance, and energy conservation firmly in mind.
  • Discharge lamps (metal halide or high pressure sodium) are highly energy efficient and reliable over long periods of time. They provide an excellent spread of light, therefore suitable for providing general illumination, from fewer fittings compared to any other lighting source. 
  • Halogen based lamps are available in a variety of types which can be used for many different applications, and would be suitable for spot lighting, or providing contrasting emphasis. 
  • LED (light emitting diodes) lamp technology has progressed, making this very compact, durable, lighting source suitable for discreet feature lighting, with extremely low energy consumption. 
  • The secret of a good lighting system is to be able to control it. Dimmer control can have dramatic effect and save energy. Not all discharge lighting can be dimmer controlled, it is therefore essential to have good flexibility of switching with no more than two lamp units per switch. Consideration should also be given to the ‘glare factor’ and attachment louvers are available for most light fittings. 
  • Lighting for a concert or stage area can be successfully achieved by including suitably rated power points, for the use of portable stage lighting rigs. 
  • Ideally light fittings should be positioned to allow easy access for lamp changing. This is not always possible. However, with the present long life span of lamps (particularly discharge lamps) it would be advantageous to plan ahead and budget for a complete periodic lamp change, carried out professionally, without health and safety risks.   

3.  Emergency Lighting 

There is currently no statutory requirement for churches to provide emergency lighting. It is however, the duty of the trustees to carry out a risk assessment, as required under the Health and Safety Regulations. NB: This is not the case for church halls that are available for public hire. 

  • If the assessment results in a decision to provide emergency lighting, it should be installed in accordance with BS5266.
  • An emergency lighting log book, with the record of regular testing must be kept up to date.  Without regular testing and maintenance, emergency lighting will soon become ineffective. 
  • The emergency light fittings should be non-maintained units (i.e. to activate only on power failure). For aesthetic reasons it would be preferable to incorporate the emergency unit within a general lighting fitting if possible. 
  • If infrequent provision only, is required, illuminated exit signs and emergency lighting can be provided by portable ‘plug in’ units, with the provision of a discreet socket and bracket in the appropriate positions. When not in use, the emergency lighting units could be kept energised, adjacent to the electricity mains supply position. This would also help to ensure that the lighting units are in working order prior to use. 

4. External Floodlighting 

There are many things to consider before deciding to floodlight the exterior of the church: 

  • Light pollution, particularly in rural churches. 
  • The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) - English Nature. 
  • Archaeological advice in respect of sunken lamps and cable routes, especially through burial grounds. 
  • Energy consumption - use of low energy fittings - time control to prevent unnecessary illumination. 
  • Choice of appropriate lamp colour rendering, for the particular stonework. 
  • If the building is listed or in a conservation area.
  • If the floodlighting would increase the security of the building, or, conversely, cause attraction from those with a less than Christian intent.  Consideration may be given to external PIR motion sensor switches, especially on roofs and climbing points.

5. Electrical Heating 

Space heating a church, other than a very small church, by electricity, would not be recommended. The sustained input of heat, required to overcome the heat losses of the building, and raise the temperature to an acceptable level, using electricity, would be substantial, and even if affordable, it would be an extravagant use of energy. 

The choice of a new heating system will vary according to the circumstances. If the circuit is contemplating a wider use of the church, keeping the building constantly warm would be an obvious advantage. Hot water heating systems would be more suited to this. In many churches it is a matter of providing warmth for a small congregation in a large building, for a few services each month, at an affordable running cost. This means putting heat where the people are, rather than attempting to heat the whole space. Electrical heating can be used efficiently to achieve this objective. 

  • Under pew heating 
    If it is possible for under pew heating to be successfully accommodated, it can be an effective and economical method of providing heat where it is required. The heaters are low level ‘skirting type’ convector units. They are unobtrusive, and the wiring to them can usually be concealed within the pew platforms. These heaters are available in various lengths (output from 500 -750 watts per metre) with integral overheat thermal safety cutout protection, and can be linked together if necessary. The heaters should be floor mounted on brackets, NOT fixed to pews, and assurance should be obtained from the manufacturer that the heaters used in this type of application conform to current Health and Safety Regulations. Good flexible switching is advisable, ideally a switch concealed under each pew, with contactor/time control at the distribution board to enable the system to be energised for a short pre-heat period prior to the services, and also prevent the heaters from being left on unnecessarily. If considering such heaters, thought needs to be given to whether there will still be room for kneeling, without any risk to the congregation.
  • Off/peak fan assisted storage heating 
    This can be used to provide a low level background temperature in small churches, provided there is space, and they are able to be located relatively unobtrusively. This heating could be used to supplement under pew heating, and would also benefit the fabric.
  • Radiant / quartz heating 
    It is generally accepted that quartz heaters are not pleasing in appearance. They also produce a bright light, which can be visually intrusive. These should only be considered where there is no feasible alternative. 

6. Wiring systems

The following, are the types of wiring considered to be acceptable for use in church buildings: 

  • MICV (mineral insulated copper covered with polymeric sheath). This is a very durable cable which is available with LSF (low smoke and fume) sheath which comes in various colours to blend with the surrounding surfaces. Brass termination glands are the compression type and come complete with shrouds to match the sheath colour. This cable should be fixed with wrap around clips (colour to match the cable sheath) and screws. 
  • FP200 (fire resistant cable). This type of cable was first used for fire alarm installations. It is now considered a quality cable suited to many applications. It also has LSF (low smoke and fume) covering. Like MICV cable it retains its shape (good for dressing around stonework). The TRS termination glands prevent the ingress of dampness and also come complete with shrouds. The added advantage of this cable is the economy of installation costs, being far less labour intensive to install than mineral insulated cable. This cable should be fixed with wrap around clips and screws. FP200 cable comes with white or red covering. However it can be successfully painted to blend with the surrounding surfaces. The paint used must be approved by the cable manufacturers. 
  • MICC (mineral insulated copper covered). This cable is the same as MICV cable without a sheath covering over the copper. If this cable is used on damp surfaces, particularly with lime based mortar, it will quickly discolour and corrode. This cable should be fixed with wrap-around copper clips and brass screws. 
  • Steel Conduit (with PVC cables). Steel conduit has been used in many churches in the past and can be re-used for rewiring an installation if found to be in good order with no signs of corrosion. If conduits are re-used the conduit should not be used as a CPC (circuit protective conductor). A separate earth conductor should be used throughout. Where existing conduit is re-used, it does prevent disturbing the fabric. However it is highly unlikely that steel conduit would be considered for a new installation, because of the higher labour cost and the aesthetic impact. 
  • High Impact Plastic Conduit (with PVC cables). This conduit is much more economical to install. There are applications where this could be preferred, such as towers and boiler rooms. 
  • SWA cable (steel wire armoured). This cable should be used for all external buried cable runs. It is also ideal for sub-mains, under floors or in ducts. Where this cable is used, the wire sheath should not be relied on as the CPC (circuit protection conductor), allowance should be made for a separate earth conductor core. 

7. The Fabric 

Cable runs should be carefully planned so that they are unobtrusive and do not cause damage or disturb the fabric. Vertical cable runs should be kept to the corners or cross sections, and horizontal runs should be at wall plate level or at low level.

Cable fixings should be drilled into the mortar joints (not stonework) wherever possible, and should be appropriately spaced in order that the cables lie flat on the surface.

Trunking should only be used for multiples of three or more cables, in which case it should be painted to blend with the surrounding surface. No chasing of plaster, drilling through walls or exposed timber should be carried out without prior approval through the consent’s system. 
8. Sockets and Portable appliances 

Sockets should be the metal clad type and should be protected by a 30ma RCD. Sockets in wet situations, such as bell chambers, should be at least IP54 rated. All portable appliances should be tested by a competent person in accordance with the Health and Safety regulations, and a log of regular tests for each appliance be provided. 
9. Organs 

The organ can be a risk area. The electric blower motor is often overlooked and can be tucked away gathering dust. It should be examined at regular intervals to prevent it becoming a fire risk, particularly if left inadvertently turned on after use. Consider having an indicator light on the organ control switch. 
10. Lightning Strike

There is no way to predict or prevent lightning strikes.  A single bolt of lightning can contain up to one billion volts of electricity which can cause considerable structural damage if the bolt strikes a building. Lightning damage comes in two forms:  

  • Structural damage to the fabric of the church, which is usually minor but can result in fires or falling masonry.  
  • Indirect damage to electrical systems and equipment.  The resultant voltage surge can cause malfunctions and shutdowns and burn out wiring. Telephones, computers, electric organs and alarm systems are all at risk. Approximately 60% of insurance claims for lightning damage are for electrical wiring and equipment rather than structural damage. 

Recent estimates suggest that around 80% of churches have some form of lightning protection installed. Perhaps counter-intuitively, churches with lightning conductors are actually more likely to be struck, but the energy is directed harmlessly away from the building and into the ground. Churches without protection are five times more likely to suffer structural damage as the result of a strike. 

The traditional defence for most churches has been a lightning conductor, a single Franklin rod leading from the top of the spire or tower to an earth stake in the ground. A modern approach to protection would be a Faraday Cage system, a mesh of conductors laid at intervals over the roof and down the walls of the church, and connected to the ground by earth electrodes. 

A record of the visual checks and inspections should be held in the church log book. 

To view advice from Methodist Insurance on lightning, click here.  

11. Surge protection 

Surge protection should be considered as part of the risk assessment particularly with the increase in the use of electronic equipment in churches, e.g. sound systems, organ controls, computers, projectors, dimmers etc. Surge protection can be included within the mains distribution gear.  
12. Record keeping

Drawings, in plan and elevation, with clear photographs showing the exact positions of all new fittings. Photos should show where fittings are to be located within the context of the church as a whole. 

  • Details of cable routes. 
  • Illustrations of proposed light fittings, heaters, etc. (from catalogue etc.)

Trustees are advised to obtain two or three quotations to ensure they are getting value for money. Only the quotation from the chosen contractor need be submitted to the DAC. If more than one quotation is submitted to the DAC then it should be stated clearly which the preferred quote is. 

13. Certification 

The following certificates appropriate to the works carried out should be provided with originals held in the church log book: 

  • New electrical installation work - NICEIC Electrical installation certificate (EIC) 
  • Minor electrical works - NICEIC Minor works certificate (MEW) 
  • Periodical Inspection - NICEIC Periodic inspection report (PIR) 
  • Portable appliance testing - HSE log test sheet 
  • Emergency lighting testing - NICEIC BS5266 log test sheet (ELT) 
  • Lightning conductor testing - BS6651 log test sheet

Updated February 2017

19. Energy Buying (updated Oct 2023)

As Christians we are called to care for God’s creation and to work for justice in the world. We are currently living in a climate emergency which threatens much of the life on earth and disproportionately affects those people who did least to cause it.

The Methodist Church in Britain has set a target of net zero by 2030. This will require action in a number of different areas and contexts, but crucial to achieving this aim will be ensuring that the energy we use is green, renewable energy. Moving to using green electricity not only ensures that the energy we use does as little as possible to contribute to the climate emergency but also allows us to demonstrate collectively that we, as a Church, want to see the building of greater capacity for renewable energy.

We are aware of the concern that churches have regarding rising energy costs.  One possible option for managing trustees to consider would be to get in touch with an energy broker who may be able to fix your rates for a period of time.  Although it is not always guaranteed that the rate is cheaper, there is a level of security of having a fixed rate.  Managing Trustees could also contact other churches in their circuit and/or district to see if they might be interested, as sometimes brokers can offer deals for a cluster of churches. 

We have vetted an energy broker called Switch 365 that is used to working with churches and has a team dedicated for Methodist churches to help ensure that they receive the best rate possible.  If you would like someone to contact you, please complete this online enquiry form. Alternatively, you can send an email to Paul Heywood or phone him on 01772 674119.        

As well, it is recommended that managing trustees look at ways to increase the energy efficiency for the building.  You can view some practical steps for reducing carbon and energy usage on Net Zero Carbon.

Updated October 2023

20. Fire Detection

As part of the Fire Risk Assessment, managing trustees need to consider how to detect fire and how to warn people quickly.  Below are some suggestions on how to review and/or install fire detection systems.  

  • Contact your local fire department and enquire if they would be able to assist with giving advice on fire alarms and fire prevention that would be specific to your building.  For example, the London Fire Brigade have this guidance on Fire alarms-Property management

  • Speak to your insurer.  Methodist Insurance has a leaflet on Church fire guidance and Installation of fire alarms as well as general guidance on  Fire Safety.  As well, some insurers offer a discount on premiums if a new fire detection system is installed. 

  • If managing trustees decide to employ a contractor to install a fire alarm system,  it is recommended to speak to other churches in your circuit and/or local area for suggestions.  It is good practice to obtain at least three quotes for any work being done - please refer to the guidance below on Procurement.


21. Empty Properties

If a building continues to remain empty, then there are a few simple steps to take to ensure ongoing security, safety and condition of the property.  These include:

  1. Weekly Inspection - An individual from  property team (or individuals on a rota basis) to visit once a week to make an internal and external inspection.  
  2. Communication - Ensure that communication is maintained between parties and that local Circuit and District policies are adhered to during this time.  As well, be aware of lone working practices and government guidance on social distancing. 

  3. Security - Ensure that all perimeter fences/railings/gates, security lighting and other deterrents to thieves (particularly lead theft) are maintained or repaired.   Ensure that all CCTV is working and notices are in place.  Smaller rural churches might check if local neighbours, neighbourhood watch or wider CCTV coverage can be asked to also monitor the property (where practical).

  4. Outside the building - Check the gutters, flashings, downpipes and gullies are not blocked/damaged from ground level and where practical.  Check for any break-ins or vandalism.  
  5. Church grounds - If the grass is mowed using the church's equipment, it should be sanitised after use.   

    Caring for God's Acre has some advice on allowing natural wild flowers and how to minimising the amount of mowing that is needed.

  6. Inside the building - check for any leaks to the mains water supply, other pipes running through out the building and the heating radiators/pipes.  As well, it is advisable to run the hot and cold taps for 5 minutes in order to prevent legionella.  If a manse is empty, it is recommended to remove shower heads as well. 

  7. Heating - It would be beneficial to ensure that some heating is retained in the building to avoid any issues with pipes bursting.  A minimum of 7° Celsius is recommended.  
  8. Weekly Checks - If the fire alarm or fire detection system is normally checked weekly, then test it.  If there is a mechanical organ, it would beneficial to play for 15 minutes to keep the moving parts clean and from sticking (see below for detailed steps).  
  9. Post - Collect the post if not redirection or suspended. 
  10. Leaving - When leaving the church, ensure that all doors, windows and other points of access are secured.

If you have any concerns, please liaise with your District Property Secretary or Circuit Property Steward.   

Additionally, Methodist Insurance has guidance on empty church buildings from an insurance point of view.  Click here to read the guidance.  


For a church with a larger or mechanically complex organ, prolonged lack of use will result in long-term problems with its performance.  If an organist is available in the neighbourhood, then they can practise to keep all the action parts moving.  If an organist is not available, then the person performing the weekly inspection could carrying out the following steps:

  1. Switch the organ on (consult with your regular organist, as every instrument is different)
  2. Pull out all the stops (or press them down, if the instrument has stop tabs)
  3. One at a time, press every key (black and white) on each keyboard of the instrument, and all of the pedals. Note that the organ operates differently from a piano; keys should be pressed rather than struck.
  4. If any faults occur, such as notes not sounding, or continuing to sound after the key has been released, make a note and consult with your organist or organ tuner.
  5. Cancel all stops by pushing them in (or up for stop tabs).
  6. Switch off the organ.

The purpose of this is to run through all the stops on all keyboards, and the pedalboard to keep leatherwork from sticking and keep electrical contacts clean. 


The following actions are suggested:

  • Notify the local police to report the crime 

  • Notify your property insurer of a potential claim, for example Methodist Insurance and Ecclesiastical


If your church is known to have bats, then hopefully surfaces will have been covered.  Ideally a church building with bats that affect worship areas will not be open to anyone until it has had a thorough clean, which will have to wait until multiple people are able to safely enter, and appropriate PPE has been sourced.

Any works carried out will be subject to the usual legislation relating to bat conservation and if the trustees are concerned about its bat population then do call the National Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228

*Updated 12 December 2023


22. Fire Extinguishers

The Fire Extinguisher Service contract for churches operated by Chubb Fire Limited - National Accounts Division Manchester, has been expired but is currently under review.  If this contract has been of use for your church, please send an email to Property Support expressing your interest for renewing the contract.  

 Updated contact details on August 2023

23. Fire Risk Assessment

For Church Premises
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 - see also HSE's guidance on Fire Safety and the Methodist Insurance guidance on Fire Safety.  
The Fire Safety Order replaces most fire legislation with one simple order.  It means that any person who has some level of control in the premises must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire.
If you previously carried out a fire risk assessment under the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997, as amended 1999, and this assessment has been regularly reviewed, then all you will need to do now is to carry out another review taking account of those issues not covered by these Regulations. The Regulations apply to virtually all premises, every type of building, structure and open space. They do not apply to private dwellings.
The Fire Safety Order applies in England and Wales. It covers ‘general fire precautions’ and other fire safety duties, which are needed to protect ‘relevant’ persons in case of fire in and around most ‘premises’.  The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 has similar regulations.
The order requires fire precautions to be put in place ‘where necessary’ and to the extent that it is ‘reasonable and practical’ in the circumstances of the case.
Responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order rests with the ‘Responsible Person’.  In a workplace this would normally be the employer or any person who may have control of any part of the premises.
Those legally responsible for churches, ie the Managing Trustees who constitute the Church Council or similar, are classed as the employer and will be responsible for appointing a ‘Responsible Person’ who should carry out the Risk Assessment on behalf of the Trustees or Church Councils who are legally responsible for the implementation of the Fire Safety Order.

The Order does not require that a ‘qualified’ person has to carry out the Risk Assessment.  In most cases this can be achieved without the need for any specialist or formal knowledge or training. The Managing Trustees can appoint one or more ‘Competent Persons’ to assist them, and depending on the size of the premises, to carry out the preventative and protective measures required by the Order.  The ‘Responsible Person’ ie the Managing Trustee body can nominate one of their number or other specific named person for this purpose. 
Fire risk assessment principles
The Fire Safety Order requires you to:

  1. Carry out a risk assessment identifying any possible dangers or risks 
  2. Consider who may be especially at risk 
  3. Remove or reduce the risk from fire as far as is reasonably possible and provide general fire precautions to deal with any possible risk left 
  4. Provide:
    • Means for detecting and giving a warning in case of fire
    • Means of escape and emergency lighting
    • Fire safety signs and  fire fighting equipment 
    • Monitor and review the risk assessment and revise as appropriate
    • Inform staff or their representative of the risks and provide training 
    • Plan for an emergency and record your findings.

Who enforces the Fire Safety Order?

The local Fire and Rescue Authority will enforce the order in most premises.
They have the power to inspect your premises to check that you are complying with your duties under the Fire Safety Order.  They will look for evidence that you have carried out a suitable fire risk assessment and acted upon the significant findings of that assessment.  If you have 5 or more employees you are required to keep a copy of the assessment.
 In many premises the responsible person will be obvious but there may be times when a number of people will have some responsibility.  In Church premises outside groups who hire the premises are also required to carry out their own assessments and the responsible person should ensure they have done so.
If the enforcing authority is dissatisfied with the outcome of your risk assessment or the action you have taken, they may issue an Enforcement Notice that requires you to make certain improvements or, in extreme cases, a Prohibition Notice that restricts the use of all or part of your premises until improvements are made.
Failure to comply with any duty imposed by the Order or any Notice issued by the enforcing authority is an offence. You have the right of appeal to a Magistrate’s Court against any Notice issued.  Where you agree that there is a need for improvements to your fire precautions but disagree with the enforcing authority on the technical solution (e.g. what type of fire alarm system is needed), you may agree to refer this for an independent determination.

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

 A fire risk assessment is an organised and methodical look at your premises, the activities carried on there and the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm to those in and around the premises.
The aims are to:

  • Identify the hazards, reduce the risk of those hazards causing harm to as low as is reasonably practicable. 
  • To decide what physical fire precautions and management policies are necessary to ensure the safety of people in your building if a fire does start. 

The term “Risk” means the chance of that harm occurring.
The term “Hazard” means anything that has the potential to cause harm.
If you have five or more employees, then the significant findings of the risk assessment, the actions taken and details of anyone especially at risk must be recorded.  It will be helpful to keep a record even if you are not required to do so.
 How to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment

A fire risk assessment will help you determine the chances of a fire starting and the dangers from fire that your premises present for the people who use them and any person in the immediate vicinity.  The assessment method suggested in this guide shares the same approach as that used in general Health and Safety Legislation.
Much of the information for your risk assessment will come from the knowledge you have along with your colleagues of the premises, as well as information given to you by people who have responsibility for other parts of the building.  A tour of the premises will be needed to confirm, amend or add detail to your initial views.
It must take the whole of your premises into account, including outdoor locations.  If the premises are small you may be able to assess them as a whole.  In larger premises you may find it helpful to divide them into rooms or a series of assessment areas using natural boundaries, eg worship or assembly rooms, corridors, stairways and external routes.
Your fire risk assessment should demonstrate that, as far as is reasonable, you have considered the needs of disabled people.
There are five steps to a risk assessment

  1. Identify fire hazard 
  2. Identify people at risk 
  3. Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk 
  4. Record, plan, instruct, inform and train 
  5. Review

Further advice and information
HSE guidance on Fire Safety
Scotland's Legislation on Fire and Rescue Methodist Insurance Fire Safety information

Published October 2014

24. Food Safety and Kitchen Hygiene

Please also refer to Food Safety on Methodist Insurance.  

For information about food labelling, please refer to TMCP's guidance note on Natasha's Law and the Need to Keep Everyone Safe.    
Kitchen hygiene requirements, and UK laws and legislation
On 1 January 2006, a number of new food hygiene regulations came into force in the UK.
The layout, design, construction, site and size of your premises must

  • Allow adequate maintenance, cleaning and/or disinfection 
  • Avoid or minimise air-borne contamination (ie contamination carried in the air) 
  • Provide enough working space for you to carry out all tasks hygienically 
  • Protect against the build-up of dirt, contact with toxic materials, shedding of particles into food and forming of condensation or mould on surfaces 
  • Allow good food hygiene practices, including protection against contamination and, in particular, pest control
  • Provide, where necessary, suitable conditions for handling and storing food while keeping it at appropriate temperatures, designed to allow those temperatures to be monitored and, where necessary, recorded. 

Handwashing Facilities and Toilets

  • Washbasins for cleaning hands must have hot and cold running water, and materials for cleaning hands and for hygienic drying. Preferably wash-hand basins should be lever, elbow, knee or automatically operated to avoid contamination.

  • Water should be stored at or above 60 degrees Celsius to avoid Legionella contamination 

  • Water, at the point of use at a kitchen sink, should be limited to no more than 46-48 degrees Celsius to ensure proper removal of grease but there may a risk of scalding at these temperatures if hands are immersed for even a short time, say within 30 seconds on skin with reduced thickness. A safe hand washing temperature as recommended by the NHS is 41 degrees Celsius.

  • A wash-hand basin should be fitted at a recommended height to top of basin of between 770 and 840 mm.

  • Where necessary, you should have a separate sink for washing food.

  • Adequate drying provisions should be provided, such as hand dryers (preferably a new generation hand dryer which does not circulate the dirty air, such as the Dyson Airblade).  Hand towels, hand towel roll or cotton roller towels can be used. 

 Insect Screens

  • Windows opening directly into food preparation areas must be fitted with screens capable of resisting common flying insects 

  • Insect screens must be removable to allow for cleaning 

  • Kitchen doors which open to the outside air and which are opened for lengthy periods must also be suitably screened using a close-fitting insect-proof screen door

  • Doors can be fitted with PVC screen curtains, mesh curtains, chain screens or preferably neatly fitting screen doors

Electronic Fly Killing Devices

  • Flying insects can be destroyed using an electronic fly-killing device. 
  • Fly killer units need to be positioned in an area where they will have the greatest range around the kitchen. 
  • They should not be placed in an area where they will be subject to draughts which could dislodge debris from the killing grid or catch tray. 
  • They should also not be placed above or close to areas where food is stored or prepared in case of blow-out from the fly killer. 
  • Glueboard fly killers are preferable in areas of high risk. They catch the flies on the glue board and hold them permanently. Manufacturers will give advice on the location, cleaning and maintenance of this type of equipment. 

Waste Management

  • You must put food waste and other rubbish in containers that can be closed, unless you can satisfy your local authority that other types of containers or systems of disposing of waste are appropriate. These containers must be of appropriate construction, kept in sound condition, be easy to clean and, where necessary, easy to disinfect. 

  • You must have adequate facilities for storing and disposing of food waste and other rubbish. Stores for waste must be designed and managed in a way that enables them to be kept clean and, where necessary, kept free of animals and pests. 

  • You must get rid of all waste in a hygienic and environmentally friendly way, in accordance with EU legislation. (There are rules about the way certain types of food waste must be collected and disposed of - contact your local authority for details.) 

  • The waste must not be a direct or indirect source of contamination (eg touching surfaces that food is prepared on, or attracting pests).

Kitchen Cleaning
Use colour-coded mops and utensils.


Kitchen Ventilation Systems (Minimum Ventilation Rates) 

  • An internal ambient air temperature of 28oC maximum
  • Maximum humidity levels of 70%
  • Internal noise level should be between NR40 - NR50
  • Dedicated make up air system to be approximately 85% of the extract flow rate 
  • Minimum of 40 air changes per hour (based on canopy and general room extraction). 

Minimum Requirements for Canopy: Velocity Requirements

  • Light loading - 0.25 m/s (applies to steaming ovens, boiling pans, bains marie and stock-pot stoves). 
  • Medium loading - 0.35 m/s (applies to deep fat fryers, bratt pans, solid and open top ranges and griddles).
  • Heavy loading - 0.5 m/s (applies to chargrills, mesquite and specialist broiler units).

Material of Construction

  • A material that would comply with the food hygiene requirement is stainless steel.

Grease Filtration

Have a minimum performance the same as a baffle filter and be easy to clean.  

 Minimum Requirements for Duct Work

  • All ductwork should be low pressure Class A and constructed in accordance with HVCA Specification DW/144[1] with a minimum thickness of 0.8 mm

Minimum Requirements for Odour Control Objectives

  • For new premises or premises covered by planning conditions restricting the impact of odour the system shall be designed to prevent harm to the amenity. 

  • For existing premises not covered by planning conditions restricting the impact of odour, the system shall be designed to avoid statutory nuisance and shall comply with the principles of Best Practical Means.  

  • To achieve these objectives, the odour control system shall include an adequate level of odour control and stack dispersion. 

 Published October 2014 and updated Nov 21 to include link for Natasha's Law.

25. Gas - Inspection and Testing

Inspection and testing

Gas must be treated with respect.  It can escape and silently poison or even cause catastrophic explosions, so it must be carefully managed.  Meeting the legislation and standards for gas safety is not easy but duty holders must make sure they understand them.
The Law
 Gas safety legislation stems from the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Added to this act are specific regulations: Pipelines Safety Regulations 1996, Gas Safety (Management)
Regulations 1996, Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and five more.
Other legislation for gas includes: the Gas Acts 1986 and 1995, Gas Appliance (Safety) Regulations 1995 and Building Regulations and Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations.
Codes and standards

In addition to the above, there are ACOPs (Approved Codes of Practice) for gas that support the legislation, plus the relevant British Standards totalling 72, which cover flues, valves, meters and regulators, tubing and appliances.
Knowing, understanding and following these 72 separate standards is an onerous task, yet this is what is required for compliance. As it states in the Gas Safety Regulations 1998: the code has special legal status. If you are prosecuted for breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that you did not follow the relevant provisions of the code, you will need to show that you have complied with the law in some other way or a court will find you at fault.

The essential phrase to consider is in Part F of Regulation 35:
It shall be the duty of every employer or self-employed person to ensure that any gas appliance, installation pipework or flue installed at any place of work under his control is maintained in a safe condition so as to prevent risk of injury to any person.
Regulation 4 qualifies that this means taking reasonable steps to ensure that the person undertaking the work is, or is employed by, a ‘class of persons’ approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In other words the person undertaking the work must be registered with Gas Safe and qualified to the appropriate ACOPs for the specific job in hand.

In 2009, the Corgi gas registration scheme was replaced in the UK by the Gas Safe Register: the official body for gas safety in UK, Isle of Man and Guernsey, run by Capita Gas Registration and Ancillary Services.

 The sole focus of the register is on improving and maintaining gas safety to the highest standards. Gas Safe holds the only official list of 120,000 gas engineers legally able to perform gas work on boilers, hobs, ovens, fires and all other gas appliances. Anyone carrying out gas work must have a Gas Safe Register ID card. If not, they – and you – are breaking the law.

The route to legislative compliance begins with risk assessment, as recommended by the HSE, to establish hazards and necessary precautions. That assessment should inform what is subsequently done in terms of a test regime and maintenance schedule. It should be conducted according to that assessment and in line with regulations and ACOPs.
For gas this means ANNUAL inspection and test of gas appliances, pipework and flues in every type of property, other than private domestic, but including manses which, for the purposes of the legislation, are deemed to be occupied by ‘tenants’ with the circuit as ‘landlord’.
Test and inspection is not often where compliance is completed; it’s where the process starts. For gas, that’s easier said than done because of the complex Corgi legacy: there are many, many ACOPs for gas and it is essential to establish that the engineer conducting the assessment is qualified for the specific item or situation.
For example, an engineer qualified to inspect domestic gas appliances may not be suitably qualified for commercial appliances, while an engineer qualified to assess one grade of pipework may not be qualified to assess other grades.  In fact, there is training and qualifications for every one of the 72 ACOPs.
It is extremely complicated and requires both awareness and diligence on the part of the duty holder. If an accident were to occur and the HSE to investigate, one of the first things they would scrutinise would be the specific qualifications of the gas engineer.  So it is advisable to check the engineer’s registration card before allowing access and verifying the details on the Gas Safe online register to establish that the individual’s specific qualifications match every aspect of your site’s specific requirement.
 Compliance on a budget
Get competitive, comparative quotes or tenders. Don’t be fooled by cut price testing where charges are loaded on remedial repairs. 
Use flexibility to your advantage; plan in advance and build all the timing and site access flexibility in that you can to claim competitive pricing. 
Negotiate a longer contract for testing that will span three, four or five years. You are sure to get preferential pricing. 
Link the buying of your gas safety requirements to electrical testing and other services to maximise your buying power. 
Source a supplier with multi-skilled engineers; it could mean less time on your site and hence reductions in cost to you. 
Useful sources
Official register of qualified gas engineers - www.gassaferegister.co.uk
 Health and Safety Executive  (a source of advice and legal information about health and safety in the workplace)  - www.hse.gov.uk
This guidance is intended to give an overview of some of the main pieces of legislation that cover many workplaces.
Further information can be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE); in particular: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg285.pdf (for landlords’ (circuits’) duties) www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cais23.pdf (for gas safety in catering and hospitality) www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cais10.pdf (for ventilation of kitchens for catering)
You should also check any requirements in your insurance policy (Methodist Insurance produce several guidance notes.  
Published October 2014


26. Graffiti

The Graffiti on Historic Buildings which is produced by Historic England offers comprehensive guidance on the subject.  It describes the types of graffiti and historic materials affected, the legal context for reporting and prosecuting graffiti crime, general advice on removing graffiti, best technical practice expected of specialist graffiti-removal contractors, and prevention measures. It also addresses wider cultural developments, notably the increased public recognition and acceptance of ‘street art’, and the consequent need to define the boundaries between street art and unwanted graffiti.

27. Grants

For information about Grants, please visit the Property Grants information page.  

28. Health and Safety during Construction

On 6th April 2015, the CDM 2007 was revoked and replaced by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015).   CDM 2015 is subject to certain transitional arrangements, for construction projects that began before  6th April 2015 and continue beyond that date.  
Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015): Transitional arrangements CDM 2015 recognises that there will be construction projects that start before the Regulations come into force on 6 April 2015 and continue beyond that date.   For these projects, the following transitional arrangements apply. 
Where there is, or is expected to be, more than one contractor on a project:  where the construction phase has not yet started and the client has not yet appointed a CDM co-ordinator, the client must appoint a principal designer as soon as practicable  if the CDM co-ordinator has already been appointed and the construction phase has started, the client must appoint a principal designer to replace the CDM co-ordinator before 6 October 2015, unless the project comes to an end before then  in the period it takes to appoint the principal designer, the appointed CDM co-ordinator should comply with the duties contained in Schedule 4 of CDM 2015.  These reflect the duties placed on CDM co-ordinators under CDM 2007 rather than requiring CDM co-ordinators to act as principal designers, a role for which they may not be equipped
Other transitional arrangements are:  pre-construction information, construction phase plans or health and safety files provided under CDM 2007 are recognised as meeting the equivalent requirements in CDM 2015  any project notified under CDM 2007 is recognised as a notification under CDM 2015  a principal contractor appointed under CDM 2007 will be considered to be a principal contractor under CDM 2015
In all other circumstances, the requirements of CDM 2015 apply in full from  6 April 2015.
The CDM 2007 pages are therefore being retained until the end of the transitional period, 6th October 2015 and pages giving guidance on CDM 2015 will be published shortly.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007)
 Everyone controlling site work has health and safety responsibilities. Checking that working conditions are healthy and safe before work begins (and ensuring that the proposed work is not going to put others at risk) requires planning and organisation. This applies whatever the size of the site.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM) can help you to:
 • improve health and safety in your industry 
 • have the right people for the right job at the right time to manage the risks on site, and 
 • focus on effective planning and manage the risk - not the paperwork. 
The regulations come under the overall legislation of the 1974 Health & Safety at Work Act.
Please also see our information sheets on risk assessment.
The Health & Safety Commission has published a useful Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) which is essential reading in order to understand the regulations (see references at end).
As always, the regulations need to be consulted for full details, but the main points to be considered are as follows:
 • The only construction work excluded from these regulations is ‘domestic work’. No construction work handled by Methodist Managing Trustees can be defined as ‘domestic work’. 
 • All construction work must have a package of Health & Safety (H&S) information (for the definition of ‘construction work’, see ACOP clause 13). 
 • Construction work, even when undertaken by volunteers, still comes within the regulations. Managing Trustees are responsible for ensuring that all volunteers have sufficient training and competence. 
 • Managing Trustees are responsible for checking the competence and responsibilities of designers and contractors etc. 
  All construction work lasting more than 30 working days, or involving more than 500 person days, must be notified to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). 
A CDM coordinator must be appointed for all notifiable projects.

The CDM coordinator replaces the 1994 CDM regulations ‘planning supervisor’, and has very similar duties, including:
 providing the Managing Trustees with advice relating to H&S risk management 
 ensuring that all designers and contractors are competent 
 coordinating H&S information 
 notifying HSE where applicable, and 
 the preparation of the H&S file. 
The CDM coordinator should be appointed as early as possible in the project. Where this person has not been appointed, the Managing Trustees are legally the CDM coordinator.
All construction professionals should be familiar with the CDM regulations, and we recommend that you consult a suitable professional for advice whenever you are contemplating a building project. The designer (ie the architect or surveyor) also has considerable duties (see ACOP clause 109 to 145; the principal contractor’s duties are set out in Clauses 146-192).
The HSE has stressed that one of the main objectives of the revised regulations is that it is important to minimise paperwork and bureaucracy. One of the main complaints about the 1994 CDM regulations was that they produced a ‘paperchase’, including lengthy H&S documents, which were sometimes of little use.
We appreciate that the new regulations may be considered to impose some additional responsibility on Managing Trustees, but it is worth bearing in mind that these responsibilities are little different to those already applicable under the 1994 CDM regulations. The main difference is that what was implicit in the old regulations, is now made more explicit, particularly in the requirement to ensure that the professional advisors and building contractors are competent and suitably resourced. For instance, any proposed timescale for building work must be reasonable.
Managing Trustees who appoint anyone who they have not assessed to be competent are in breach of the regulations, and we therefore always recommend that a suitable professional is appointed to offer at least some advice, even if a ‘full service’ is not considered necessary.
However, the formal appointment of a CDM coordinator is only required for projects that have to be notified to the HSE (see above).

If Managing Trustees do not need to appoint a CDM coordinator, and also do not appoint a suitable professional (eg an architect or surveyor) to advise them as a ‘competent person’ as defined in the regulations, then the Managing Trustees themselves become the competent person, which may be inadvisable. In these circumstances, they should discuss the position with their insurance company to ensure they have adequate insurance cover.
Competence: a definition is given in the ACOP appendix 4.
Construction work is very widely defined, and includes repair and redecoration, site investigation and preparation, demolition, and work to services (see APOC clause 13).
The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 are complementary regulations which set out requirements covering, for instance, sanitary provision; eating, drinking, rest and changing facilities; and cleanliness of working spaces during construction activity (including when volunteers are involved).
 Managing Health & Safety in Construction: Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007- Approved Code of Practice (L144), HSE Books 2007. books.hse.gov.uk/hse/public/home.jsf
 Technical Information leaflet T9 – Property Risk Assessment.
 Management of Health & Safety at Work - Approved Code of Practice & Guidance, HSE Books 2007
 The Essentials of Health & Safety at Work: HSE books (revised edition 2006) Health & Safety at Work etc Act, 1974.
 Management of Health & Safety at Work Act
1999 Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare)
Regulations 1992
Health & Safety Executive (HSE) publications: tel: 01787 881165, www.hse.gov.uk Health & Safety Executive (HSE) infoline: tel: 0845 345 0055

Revised April 2015

29. Heat pumps

For further guidance on solar panels, please refer to the guidance from EcoChurch on Ground Source Heat Pumps and Air Source Heat Pumps.

Additionally, Historic England have produced guidance on Heat Pumps.  This advice note offers help on how to minimise damage to historic fabric when considering your heat pump installation. 

Lastly, the Diocese of Oxford has produced guidance on Your Church and Heat Pumps


30. Heating Options

For guidance on heating options, please refer to the guidance from EcoChurch on:

31. Insurance

All documents link to and are hosted by Methodist Insurance unless otherwise indicated. Last checked and updated: Jun 2018

Methodist Insurance - General Information (Connexional Team PDF)

Methodist Insurance - About Us

Risk assessments

Church Risk Planner - How to look after your church throughout the year

Fire Risk Assessment Form (PDF)

Four Risk Assessment Stages for Methodist Churches

Risk Assessment in Manses


Inspections and security

Church Security (protection against vandalism; storage of valuable items)

Lead / Metal on Church buildings (metal theft; SmartWater)

Services Inspection and Testing (electrical equipment)


Health and Safety (see also the Health and Safety page)

Bad Weather Advice (keeping your church safe)

Church Health and Safety Guidance Notes (for asbestos, see the Technical Information page

Community work (event planning)

Fire Safety (prevention)

Health and Safety Tips and Advice (guidance and forms)

Listed Buildings
This is a reminder for those custodians who make an insurance claim for works to listed buildings. It is likely that your insurance company has a list of contractors who undertake repair works as part of any claim. This list often includes contractors and general builders who undertake claims works on domestic and commercial properties.

In the case of churches which are listed buildings it maybe that these contractors do not have sufficient experience or skill to undertake the specialist and high-quality works required for our more historic buildings. In such circumstances your insurer may suggest the church ask their architect or surveyor who does the Quinquennial Inspection to draw up the specification of works (this will be more detailed than a schedule of works a general building contractor will produce) and then employ a contractor with the necessary skills to carry out the work.

The associated fees and works should be covered by the insurance claim. Any trustee who finds themselves making a claim for works to a listed building should clarify the above with their insurance company and any resulting specification should be submitted to and approved in writing by the Connexional Conservation Officer before the works commence.

Updated Oct 2022

32. Joint Contract Tribunal (JCT) Contracts
Choosing the contractor

It is the responsibility of the architect acting for the Managing Trustees to ensure that contractors being considered for tendering are experienced, competent and suitable to carry out the proposed works.
Managing Trustees should note that parties to building contracts are now more litigiously minded – and that contractors, in the event of a disagreement, will look for loopholes in any documentation signed.
This has resulted in a great responsibility being placed on the architect in respect of the building contract.
It should be emphasised that litigation is not likely but when it does occur it can be very expensive.
The Support Services office advises that local and known contractors if considered suitable by the architect and Managing Trustees for the work to be undertaken should be placed on the tender list.
The architects should, as normal practice, make a status enquiry and take up references of potential contractors. The option of a performance bond should be considered with the architect to cover the event of a failure by the contractor to perform the contract. The architect could also advise at this point as to whether or not such a bond would be useful in the particular circumstances. The Support Services office advises that Managing Trustees should ask the architect to try to ascertain the claims record of contractors although it is appreciated that this may be difficult.
Managing Trustees should note there is a Code of Procedure for selective competitive tendering (issued by the National Joint Consultative Committee for Building) and this code anticipates that the lowest tender will normally be accepted. Managing Trustees should have a good reason for not accepting a tender from a contractor who has previously been accepted on to the tender list. Ultimately the decision as to with whom a contract should be made is one for the Managing Trustees.
It is imperative that Managing Trustees should choose architects and surveyors who carry full professional indemnity insurance.

 In all cases a reputable architect in the field of church building or refurbishment work must be selected. The engagement of an architect is a most important decision for the Managing Trustees.
The Support Services office points out that the insurance position of the architect to do the work should be clarified. It is possible for chartered architects to practise without insurance and insurance must also be in place at the date of any claim.
Pre-contract considerations

Prior to going to tender, the Support Services office recommends that:

 • the project has been logged onto the Consents website 
 • consultation (if required) has been held with the district officers and formal consent has been given. 

 The Managing Trustees’ architect can then proceed to obtain all necessary planning permissions and building regulations approvals, and to attend to any fire or health and safety matters required.
Any structural matters requiring attention should also be attended to. The Support Services office recommends that until the requisite documentation is available then no further works should be carried out until the architect is in a position to proceed and has all the relevant documentation required and in place.
The JCT form of contract

The use of the JCT forms of contract is encouraged by the Connexion and TMCP and those forms of contract are recommended.  Templates can be found on the JCT website - www.jctltd.co.uk.  
However, the clause which automatically refers any dispute to arbitration in that contract should be deleted.
Managing Trustees should be aware that arbitration is another form of legal proceedings and not an escape from a hearing. If the arbitration clause is excluded any litigation under the contract could go to a judge known as the Official Referee (that is a judge experienced in dealing with building disputes).
One of the difficulties that has been experienced with arbitration is that this usually has been brought by the builder against the Managing Trustees. Managing Trustees may feel that a claim should be made against one of their advisers and not themselves but they could not join that other party into the proceedings under the arbitration procedure. They are able to do so in normal court proceedings.
It is possible that if the claim is against a professional then that professional would inform the insurance company who insure their negligence claim
The insurance company may then effectively take over the running of the entire case. If such a circumstance should arise, Managing Trustees should note that the insurers act for the professional (eg the architect or surveyor) – not for the Managing Trustees.
As mentioned above in court proceedings it is possible to commission an allegedly negligent professional as a third party. If this development should occur then Managing Trustees need to be aware that such an adviser would become hostile to the Managing Trustees and their case. Managing Trustees need to be aware that in the event of litigation it is important to obtain relevant papers from professional advisers (eg architects etc) at an early stage.
The consent of the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes and the Methodist Council is required before proceedings can be commenced, and, if they are being defended, for them to continue to be defended. Early contact with the TMCP in Manchester is advisable.
Any claim by the contractors for works done under the JCT contract will be scrutinised by the quantity surveyor who will advise the architect as each claim is made.
The architect can be asked to report any areas in dispute between the parties when each claim is made so this could be used as an early warning procedure for the Managing Trustees. They may then consider bringing in any other necessary experts before difficulties escalate.
If a dispute should arise, TMCP in Manchester might be able to assist in suggesting methods of resolution. However, they will require sight of the reports which have been obtained from the contractor, architect and quantity surveyor.
TMCP repeats that in its experience Managing Trustees should not anticipate any major difficulties when entering into building contracts. The guidance set out above is an attempt, in the light of experience, to reduce the risk of potential conflict and ensure that any disputes are satisfactorily resolved even if, in the last resort, recourse has to be made to the courts.
33. Legionella

Legionellosis is the collective name given to the pneumonia-like illness caused by legionella bacteria. This includes the most serious Legionnaires’ Disease, which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection.

 Legionella bacteria are widespread in natural water systems (e.g. rivers and ponds).   However, the conditions are rarely right for people to catch the disease from these sources. Outbreaks of the illness occur from exposure to legionella growing in purpose-built systems where water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth, e.g. cooling towers, evaporative condensers, spa pools, and hot water systems used in all sorts of premises (work and domestic).

 Infection is caused by inhaling small droplets of water, suspended in the air, containing the bacteria. Certain conditions increase the risk from legionella, including:

  • water temperature between 20–45 °C, which is suitable for growth

  • creating and spreading breathable droplets of water, e.g. aerosol created by water outlets such as shower heads

  • stored and/or re-circulated water

  • a source of nutrients for the organism e.g. presence of sludge, scale or fouling.

 All employers, or someone in control of premises (Managing Trustees), and this includes manses, should understand the health risks associated with legionella and have a duty of care.  We are responsible for health and safety and need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to legionella.

 Identify and assess sources of risk

There is a responsibility to carry out a risk assessment.  People may be competent to carry out the assessment themselves but, if not, they should call on help and advice from either property professionals or from outside sources, e.g. consultancies.

They or the person responsible for managing risks, need to understand their water systems, the equipment associated with the system such as pumps, heat exchangers, showers etc, and the constituent parts, to identify whether they are likely to create a risk from exposure to legionella, and whether:

  • water is stored or re-circulated as part of your system

  • the water temperature in all or some parts of the system is between 20–45 °C

  • there are sources of nutrients such as rust, sludge, scale and organic matters

  • the conditions are likely to encourage bacteria to multiply

  • it is possible for water droplets to be produced and, if so, whether they can be dispersed over a wide area, e.g. showers and aerosols

  • it is likely that any of your employees, residents, visitors etc are more susceptible to infection due to age, illness, a weakened immune system etc and whether they could be exposed to any contaminated water droplets.

 The risk assessment should include:

  • management responsibilities, including the name of the competent person and a description of your system,
  • this would usually be a steward or a named trustee

  • the description could include a simple diagram of the water system, it should show the hot and cold pipes and outlets (don’t forget to include any toilet cisterns), the boiler (if any), any storage tank and any ‘dead legs’ which are pipes that have been cut off and where water does not flow (such as when you remove a tap and just cap the pipe).
  • any potential risk sources,
  • this should include any tanks, heaters or air conditioning. It should also identify shower or spray heads
  • any controls currently in place to control risks
  • this might include water treatments, running of taps, showers and heads after a period of non-use, labelling and the removal of dead legs (where practical)
  • monitoring, inspection and maintenance procedures
  • a yearly review
  • records of the monitoring results and inspection and checks carried out

  • a review date.

 Most of our premises are very low risk with simple water systems; it becomes more complicated where you may have any air conditioning system or any cooling towers.  If you do have a cooling tower, please get in touch with the Property Support Team at Methodist Church House.

 If it is decided that the risks are insignificant and are being properly managed to comply with the law, the assessment is complete. No further action need be taken, but it is important that the assessment is reviewed periodically in case of changes to the system.

 All employers, or persons in control of premises, must appoint someone competent to assist with compliance with health and safety duties, i.e. take responsibility for managing the scheme.   A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage and control the scheme effectively. 

 If it is decided to employ contractors to carry out water treatment or other work, it is still the responsibility of the competent person to ensure that the treatment is carried out to the required standards. 

 A full risk assessment should be carried out at least every two years or when the system has been changed (e.g. a new sink fitted).

 Consideration should be given whether the risk of legionella can be prevented in the first place by consideration of the type of water system required. The key point is to design, maintain and operate water services under conditions that prevent or adequately control the growth and multiplication of legionella.

Keeping records

If the organisation has five or more employees any significant findings have to be recorded, including any groups of employees identified by it as being particularly at risk and the steps taken to prevent or control risks.

If there are less than five employees, it is still useful to keep a written record of action taken.

Records should include details of

  1. the person or persons responsible for conducting the risk assessment, managing, and implementing the written scheme

  2. significant findings of the risk assessment

  3. written control scheme and details of its implementation

  4. results of any inspection, test or check carried out, and the dates

  5. the state of operation of the system (i.e. in use or not in use).

These records should be retained throughout the period for which they remain current and for at least two years after that period.

Further information and guidance can be obtained from the HSE website with their FAQs  and Legionella and Landlord’s Responsibility.

Manses and ‘Let’ Properties 

Please refer to the section on 'Legionella' on the Guidelines for Manses.  

 Unoccupied premises

If the water system has not been flushed weekly as described below, then a test is essential before re-opening the building. Even if accepted practice has been followed as outlined below, within church buildings of varying ages and conditions, there may still remain some risk, and therefore it is very strongly advised that a test is carried out before reopening. This should be considered as part of any checks and risk assessments and is a decision for the managing trustees.


If the managing trustees choose to have a test, the simplest test would be to gather 2 samples - one where the water enters the building and one where it exits.  Please note that it is advisable to discuss if this is sufficient with the local service provider as each water system is different. Legionella Control have set out of code of conduct which would help in finding a suitable service provider.

Tests can take up to ten days to be analysed and during this time water outlets producing mist shouldn’t be used. If the test is positive for either bacteria, then a chemical flush can be arranged.  

Checklist for Weekly Flush

Here is a checklist for a weekly flush to prevent legionella:  

  1. All water systems should be flushed on a weekly basis. 

  2. All hot water storage systems should be switched off (but not drained) and flushed to prevent the storage of hot / warm water.

  3. All taps (hot and cold) should be run at half pressure for 5 minutes each at every flushing.

  4. All outside taps should be run at half pressure for 5 minutes each at every flushing.

  5. All toilets should be flushed twice at every flushing.

  6. All showers should be run for 5 minutes each at every flushing (ideally run these into a bucket to prevent mist and droplets being breathed in by the tester).

  7. All hot water boilers should be run and flushed through at every flushing.

  8. All dishwashers should be run and flushed through at every flushing.

  9. Any other water appliance should be flushed (i.e. washing machines).

  10. If a church has air conditioning and condensers then they should take separate advice from their maintenance contractor.

  11. All inspections and flushing operations should be recorded on a register.   

Safety precautions

If a building has remained empty for a period of time,  then there is a risk that the systems are infected. Therefore when flushing the systems, ensure that spray and water particles aren’t breathed in (wear a mask or stand well clear of the running water and run showers heads into buckets or containers).

Updated July 2020

34. Listed Buildings

Please refer to the Conservation pages or contact the Connexional Conservation Officer



35. Log Book

Templates for a log book can be downloaded here.  

Suggested list of items for inclusion in the logbook:  
Churches & Chapels: 

  • Land Registry documentation (Original deeds to be retained as per SO 903 of CPD Care and Custody of Deeds).  TMCP can assist.   
  • Details of the Annual Return or web page on the consents site where this may be found 
  • Links addresses to Consents web site - https://online.methodist.org.uk/login/login
  • Link to Property pages on Methodist website - www.methodist.org.uk/property 
  • Quinquennial inspection reports 
  • Details of any building work carried out, eg:
    • original enquiry, 
    • architects/surveyors letters etc
    • quotations/tenders
    • invoices/certificates etc o planning/building regulations consents
    • consent under Sec 98 CPD (Listed Building Works), if required
    • practical completion certificate & final certificate 
  • Electrical inspection reports 
  • Maintenance agreements, eg:
    • annual roof maintenance/clearing of gutters
    • heating 
    • gas installation
    • fire alarms
    • fire extinguishers
    • lightning conductors 
  • Details of quinquennial inspector 
  • Plans of the church and other drawings 
  • Drainage layouts 
  • Photographs of building 
  • Risk assessments 
  • Fire risk assessment (as required by 2005 fire safety regs) 
  • Asbestos report (2nd copy may need to be kept elsewhere, as this may be required by fire brigade in event of fire) 
  • Disabled access reports (the ‘Access Audit’) 
  • Insurance documents 
  • Old insurance cover notes (which legally have to be kept for 40 years) 
  • Legal agreements (eg licences, party wall agreements, easements etc) 
  • Public Entertainment licences (or letter confirming one is not necessary)

Length of time for keeping records The Methodist Church publication Guidance of Best Practice in Retaining Records is available on the Methodist website - http://www.methodist.org.uk/for-ministers-and-office-holders/office-holders/archivists

Although there is legally no landlord/tenant relationship, manses should be treated as accommodation to be “rented” to the incumbent by the Circuit as “landlord” and some of the Landlord and Tenant Act requirements will apply. 

Members of the public have access (albeit by invitation) and Part M of the Building Regulations (access and use of buildings) will apply for any alteration and improvement work to the Ground Floor together with access drives and pathways. 

  • Land Registry documentation (Original deeds to be retained as per SO 903 of CPD Care and Custody of Deeds).  TMCP can assist with providing a copy.  
  • Details of the Annual Return or web page on the consents site where this may be found 
  • Trustees are recommended to ensure suitable provision for disabled access wherever possible 
  • Risk assessments are recommended good practice  
  • An asbestos and a legionella risk assessments are recommended 
  • An annual manse stewards’ report is required 
  • Other requirements as listed for churches – electrical, gas, fire etc

Property rented out

Trustees should be aware that there may be additional obligations, required by the Landlord and Tenant Act and other legislation.

Updated June 2018

36. Manses

Please refer to the Guidelines for Manses for further information.  

37. Party Wall Act

There have recently been a number of churches who have received formal notice (as adjoining owners) from their neighbours who were planning constructional work on or near the party wall to the church. Unsure of procedure, and having received this formal notification, they have passed the notice to either TMCP or the Property Team for attention.
Under the 1996 Party Wall Act, where a neighbour is intending to carry out work on, or adjacent to, a boundary, they are required to agree a ‘party wall award’ with you. You are entitled to appoint an architect or surveyor to represent your interests and their fees will be paid for by the neighbour (known under the Act as the ‘building owner’) so there will be no financial outlay for you.
We strongly recommend that you appoint an architect or surveyor to represent the Trustees’ interests – perhaps the professional who carries out your quinquennial inspections, as they will already be familiar with your building.  Recommendations for a surveyor can be found on the Surveyor's Panel.   
Under usual circumstances, the neighbour will have shared with the church members their intentions and, in the majority of cases, the church are content for their neighbours to implement the work.
Under the Act, however, this formal notice of intention to carry out the work has to be issued, ONE MONTH before the commencement of the work and should include a drawing showing the location and extent of the work.

If the Church Council, as Managing Trustees, is content for their neighbour’s work to proceed, it should sign the notice and return it WITHIN 14 DAYS.

If the Managing Trustees do not (and even if they agree to the work being undertaken), a dispute is deemed to have occurred. In this case, an independent party wall surveyor has to be appointed to resolve the ‘dispute’ (even if one has not occurred) and his costs will have to be met.
In summary, it is the Church Council as Managing Trustees who should action the matter. Obviously, if they are unhappy with the proposals, then contact with the District Property Secretary (details in the District Directory), or TMCP is suggested.
For further information, and some useful explanatory diagrams showing typical situations, please refer to the government’s website - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/party-wall-etc-act-1996-guidance

Published October 2014

38. Photography

There is a section on photography in the Safeguarding Policy, Procedures and Guidance for the Methodist Church

As well, t here is a section on the Information Sheets and Consent Forms for the Use of Photography and Video

Advice is also available from Organising Events Guidance Pack, which includes a consent form on page 17

Updated August 2023

39. Procurement

Best Practice
When making purchases for the Methodist Church, we are not spending our own money nor are we protected by consumer laws. It is recommended that you follow the Connexional Team’s Procurement Policy which operates under best practice principles and adopts the following objectives:

  • securing maximum value for money
  • complying with all relevant legislation
  • avoiding risk. In order to do this, the Methodist Church requires that procedures and processes are in place to ensure that:
  • competitive bidding and tender processes are performed
  • suppliers are appropriately selected and authorised for use
  • suppliers are monitored for financial and non-financial performance
  • goods and services are purchased only with proper authorisation
  • goods and services received are correctly recorded
  • payments are only made for goods and services authorised and received.

Spend Thresholds

  • Below £5,000 – ideally, seek three quotations but no competitive process required for selection.
  • £5,000 to £25,000 – three formal written quotations, including one from a local supplier (if a suitable supplier is available).
  • £25,000 to £50,000 – a minimum of three competitive tenders, including one from a local supplier (as long as a suitable supplier is available). 
  • Over £50,000 – a minimum of four written competitive tenders, including one tender from a local supplier (as long as a suitable supplier is available).

General Principles
Circuits should use district-negotiated contract agreements (where they exist) in order to maximise purchasing power for the whole Church and to obtain optimum value for money. When there are no district-negotiated contracts in place, circuits are encouraged to adopt the Connexional Team’s Procurement Policy. All this should be agreed by the circuit meeting or circuit leadership team as appropriate. The Connexional Team has a Procurement Manager who may be able to give guidance in exceptional cases. However, they cannot not conduct a procurement process outside the Connexional Team

40. Professional Indemnity Insurance

Professional advisors and professional indemnity insurance cover
When a building scheme is proposed, the normal recommendation to Church Councils from Support Services in Manchester is that independent professional advisors be appointed who have professional indemnity insurance (PII) cover. We also require the professional to provide the Church Council with a copy of their insurer’s certificate of PII cover.
There are substantial benefits for Managing Trustees in using a professional who has PII cover. Managing Trustees could, if so advised, be obliged to sue a professional advisor for negligence. In the absence of PII cover, the likelihood of the Managing Trustees being able to recover that money from the professional would be very remote indeed, and might even result in bankrupting the individual. This is why we advise Managing Trustees only to appoint professionals who carry PII so that in those cases where there is a claim, there are resources there to settle the claim.
We advise the appointment of independent professional advisors rather than professionals who are church or circuit members, ie ‘in-house’. The purpose of this is to ensure that there is a totally impartial professional relationship between the Managing Trustees and their professional advisors. There can be a strong temptation to accept the offer of services from in-house professionals who are either retired, or an employee of a large organisation but working privately and, in either case, without PII cover. The temptation is partly because of possible saving on fee costs, and partly because there is a potential embarrassment if the offer is declined. However, any potential embarrassment is nothing compared to the embarrassment which may take place in due course should, for any reason, the scheme go awry and the professional be in any way implicated.
 Our advice where there is an in-house professional is that they could best provide their services by acting on the church’s behalf in the church’s relationship with a properly appointed independent professional. Hopefully, this avoids the in-house professional feeling in any way snubbed, but also avoids the longer-term possibility of the church having to sue a member.
The question is sometimes raised of a Church Council buying PII cover for an inhouse professional. However, our understanding is that, under contract and under tort, the professional has legal liability for six years after practical completion of a project, and thereafter there is liability under tort for a period of up to fifteen years after practical completion so long as an action is brought within three years of the defect becoming known. This means that, for a church to be adequately covered under PII, their professional needs to have PII cover for at least fifteen years after practical completion of a scheme.


Published October 2014 

41. Property Projects

If you are considering a bigger project, then please refer to the Property Development Pathways

42. Quinquennial Inspection Report

Click here to view the guidance on Quinquennial Inspections.  

43. RAAC Guidance (Updated Jan 2024)

We are aware of the recent news involving buildings that were built or modified between the 1960’s to 1990’susing RAAC and the potential failure of this building material.  This should probably not affect the majority of our buildings but if you have concerns, here are some considerations:

  1. If there is a log book for the church, look through the records to see if RAAC was used, or review your most recent Quinquennial Inspection Reports for any references to RAAC.
  2. If renovation, extension or new builds have taken place more recently then it is recommended to look at the building information manual (sometimes called an O&M Manual) that should have been given at the end of project which would detail the materials and specifications that were used.
  3. If you require professional advice or investigation, we would suggest contacting your Quinquennial Inspector or local building surveyor to offer advice and/or conduct a survey of the property to check for RAAC.
  4. At present, most of the government guidance is only given for education settings and therefore would need to be adapted for churches.  Here are list of useful links on the government website. 
  1. The Connexional Property Team will continue to monitor any developments through the Government websites and other sources of technical information an provide updates if needed.

Further guidance can be found on:


Updated  Jan 2024 to include links for RAAC identification. 

44. Replacement Projects

Click here to view the current Criteria for Replacement Projects under SO973.  

If Managing Trustees want to request that a project is designated as a replacement project for another, this has to be done via the Consents Website. The way to do this is as follows:

Step 1
When the Managing Trustees log a project on the Consents Website i.e. a purchase project, they will be asked; “Is this project a replacement project?” If the Managing Trustees want the project to be considered as a replacement project they must put a tick in that field.

If Managing Trustees have any questions about how to request a project be considered as a replacement project through the Consents Website, please direct these queries to Property Support or the Online Suite Support Team if the issue relates to the Consents Website.

Step 2
The Managing Trustees must enter the details of the project which is being replaced such as the sale project ID.

Step 3
Once the details have been entered this will alert the Director of Property Support. The Director of Property Support can then consider both projects and decide whether consent can be given to a replacement project. The Director of Property Support will liaise with the Managing Trustees should further information be required.

Step 4
If the Director of Property Support gives consent to a replacement project, the purchase and sales projects will then be linked via the Consents Website. Please contact the Director of Property Support for confirmation as to whether consent has been given.

Step 5
TMCP Finance should be made aware of projects that are confirmed as a replacement project through the Consents website and will be able to process the sale proceeds accordingly. The CPF Levy will be taken on the sale proceeds and then refunded on the replacement project when you make a payment request for the “CPF levy refund.”

Please note that if there are any surplus sale proceeds, the CPF levy will be taken on this amount. Where the replacement project is a purchase, the CPF levy refund is only available on the purchase price, not on the costs of the purchase (legal or surveyor’s fees) or works that Managing Trustees intend to carry out following the purchase such as decorating or maintenance.

If you want one project to be considered as a replacement for another project and a decision needs to be made within a certain timescale so that you can ensure appropriate funding is in place, then please do contact the Director of Property Support to ensure that a decision is taken in good time. You may need a decision before exchange of contracts on a purchase or before you sign a building contract or commit to incurring significant expenditure on a redevelopment project so that you have time to make alternative funding arrangements if the CPF levy refund will not be available in time. 

What happens if the sale has already completed?
If a sale has already completed and the sale proceeds have been sent to TMCP Finance, when the Managing Trustees log the project they want to be considered as a replacement project e.g. a purchase or redevelopment, they must select “CPF levy refund” on the funding tab and enter the refund amount. As the sale would have taken place already, the exact amount should be entered. If you do not know the exact amount, please contact TMCP Finance.

What happens if the replacement project will “complete” before the sale?
If the purchase or redevelopment will “complete” before the sale, the Managing Trustees should select the funding type of where the monies are actually coming from i.e. “Circuit Funds (TMCP)” if coming from a Model Trust Fund or “Methodist Chapel Aid” if they are getting bridging finance etc.

Please note that you must NOT select “CPF levy refund” as the funds are not yet available and the exact amount is unknown. Please do ensure that alternative funding arrangements are in place so that you have sufficient funds to proceed pending completion of the sale.


45. Risk Assessments

General points
The law on this issue is complex, and what follows is our understanding, which may be subject to a different interpretation, particularly in the light of an individual situation or further case law.  It is not authoritative and is given for information only.  Managing Trustees are advised to engage their own professionals to ensure the law is being complied with.
The law is regularly being modified and enlarged - it is essential for Managing Trustees to update themselves on this topic.
Current information and templates can be found on:

  • HSE guidance on Managing Risks and Risk Assessments at work 
  • Methodist Insurance guidance on Church Risk Assessments
    Local authorities often produce guidance notes on this topic, and it may be worth contacting them to discuss the position.
    The regulations apply to all church premises, including manses if they are visited by church members or the public.
    Connexional information is largely based on the guidelines on Managing for Health & Safety produced by Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  Both the regulations and guidance notes on how to comply with the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW) are covered in detail.  MHSW also overlaps with other legislation, particularly those relating to fire precautions, and others such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.
    Fire Risk Assessments are dealt with in the 'Fire Risk Assessment' section.   
    Principles of risk assessment
    The government has stated that the general principle behind risk assessment is that all users of the building should examine their work activities (whether paid or voluntary) to identify any risks to health and safety.  Any distinctions between employer, employee, self-employed, or volunteer are to be disregarded, and it is also essential to consult with other groups that use the premises.

The MHSW regulations are not intended to be prescriptive - that is, they do not lay down detailed requirements; the intention is that everyone is expected to help himself/herself to identify and reduce risks, where reasonable, and to keep themselves up to date with relevant information.
Compliance with the MHSW is deemed to be sufficient to comply with the law, although alternative procedures are also acceptable. In the event of any prosecution, the Managing Trustees will need to show how they have complied with the law.
Strictly speaking, where there are fewer than five employees, the risk assessment does not have to be in writing, but our view is that it is always preferable for the assessment to be written down and recorded in the log book or relevant minute book.
Local authorities have the legal right to inspect church premises, and to require work to be carried out if considered necessary - this is why we suggest that a previously agreed, written and recorded risk assessment is so useful.
Responsibility cannot be passed on to a third party (eg by stating that a builder is to be entirely responsible for health and safely matters during building works).
If there is any doubt about who is responsible for health and safety matters, this must be clarified.
What is a ‘risk assessment’?
A risk assessment should be a “systematic general examination of the effect of their undertaking, their work activities and the condition of the premises” and should cover the following points:

  • identify how risks arise - identify hazards 
  • how they impact on those affected 
  • how risks are managed so that decisions are made in an “informed, rational and structured manner”.

A ‘hazard’ is something with the potential to cause harm; a ‘risk’ is the likelihood of potential harm from that hazard.
The assessment should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is still current and covers any change in risk.  It needs only to include what it is reasonably expected should be known, and is not expected to include unforeseeable risks. 

Managing Trustees should appoint a competent person to assist in preparing the risk assessment and other health and safety matters (regulation 7).  A ‘competent person’ is someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge to undertake the necessary duties.  Managing Trustees may wish to obtain further advice from their architect or surveyor who carries out their quinquennial inspections, or from their insurance company.
The regulations stress that the level of detail in a risk assessment should be proportionate to the risk; for many people using modern church premises, the level of risk should be low.  The risk will rise where particular equipment is used, for instance in kitchens, or where electrical or heating equipment is handled.  For older buildings, more specific risks may need to be identified, for instance, long flights of stairs, uneven surfaces etc. Particular care will need to be taken in connection with towers, ladders and access to roofs and similar possible hazards.  Other aspects that may need particular attention are those involving young people, pregnant women and old people.
MHSW states: “There are no fixed rules about how a risk assessment should be carried out”. However, a risk assessment should:

  1. ensure significant risks are addressed 
  2. ensure all risks of the work activity are reviewed (including homeworkers and those visiting the public in their own homes) 
  3. take account of non-routine activities (eg maintenance and emergencies)
  4. be systematic and structured. 

Managing Trustees should also consider providing health and safety training for stewards and others, particularly in relation to fire drills and other emergencies. Occasional use of the premises by large groups may need particular 

Published October 2014, updated links March 2023

46. Sanitary Waste

There are two categories in which sanitary waste can be classified:
Human hygiene (not hazardous)

Offensive/hygiene wastes are the product of a healthy population (not known to be infectious).  However, when handled, there is a residual health risk, which should be assessed, and appropriate precautions should be implemented.  In addition, the waste can be offensive in appearance and smell. 

  • human and animal waste (faeces)  
  • incontinence pads 
  • catheter and stoma bags 
  • nappies 
  • sanitary waste 
  • nasal secretions 
  • sputum 
  • condoms 
  • urine 
  • vomit and soiled human bedding from a non-infectious source 
  • medical/veterinary items of disposable equipment such as gowns, plaster casts etc 
  • plasters (minor first aid or self care) generated by personal use 
  • animal hygiene wastes (animal bedding, dog faeces etc)
  • wastes from non-healthcare activities. 

Infectious waste

  1. If it comes from a person who is known to have an infectious disease (e.g. from an isolation area) or if it is saturated with, or containing free-flowing blood or other body fluids, it must be segregated and treated as clinical waste. 
  2. If it comes from a person who is receiving cytotoxic drugs, it must be segregated and managed as a cytotoxic waste. 

Risk assessment:

It is a legal requirement for employers or organisations to carry out risk assessment of their specific activities to identify where control measures need to be put in place, such as:

  1. Identifying hazards 
  2. Identifying those potentially at risk 
  3. Assessing the risks from those hazards.

Where assessment shows that the risk is not adequately controlled then steps should be taken to control the risk of injury and ill health.  Vaccinations should also be considered as an additional control measure.
Waste producers should ensure that hazardous/special waste and significant quantities of offensive/hygiene waste are securely contained and identified before going into the waste management stream.  Healthcare waste generated from healthcare practices or produced by healthcare workers in the community should be considered infectious unless otherwise
 assessed by a healthcare practitioner.  Municipal waste from domestic first aid and self-care – of a type that does not involve the need for a healthcare practitioner – is assumed to be non-infectious unless a healthcare practitioner indicates otherwise. This would include nappies and sanitary products. Offensive/hygiene waste should only be processed by licensed facilities capable of safe handling and disposal.
Please refer to Managing Offensive/Hygiene Waste Safely guidelines as approved by Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) forum.  
Human hygiene (not hazardous)
 For female visitors and employees, bins to dispose feminine products should be installed in all female and unisex toilets. Sanitary products should not be flushed down the toilets as this might block sewage pipes at treatment plants and septic tanks resulting in sea and environmental pollution.
A yellow bag with black strip is also used to store human hygiene (not hazardous) and will require disposal at a suitably permitted or licensed landfill or alternative treatment facility. This waste should not be compacted unless in accordance with the conditions of an environmental waste management licence.  Where compaction is authorised the operator should have procedures in place to contain, minimise and monitor bio-aerosol release.

Liquid offensive waste cannot be sent for disposal to landfill but should be disposed off through the normal sewage system. Where wastes are not adequately identified then waste producers should be contacted and you may need to contact the Environment Agencies. Producers of offensive/hygiene wastes should ensure that robust segregation of materials is practised.  This will enable materials to be properly labelled, stored, transported and treated.  Where waste management organisations find that these wastes are not properly segregated then producers should be notified and improvement sought.

Collection/safe transport of offensive/hygiene wastes

A safe system of work should include:

  • Bag/receptacle collection procedures and clear roles and responsibilities for all staff 
  • Collections frequent enough to ensure the storage capacity of the site is not exceeded 
  • Effective recording of the receipt and transfer of waste materials (this can help in the identification of poor segregation and labelling by producers and clients)
  • Handling of bags kept to a minimum and materials transferred, transported or handled to prevent rupturing of bags. Bags should not be manually compacted to increase capacity 
  • Collectors and loaders only removing bags that are clearly marked/labelled 
  • Arrangements for reporting spillages, inadequate or incorrect packaging and labelling of excessively heavy consignments – collectors/loaders need to know who to tell and how to contact them 
  • A safe system for avoiding spillages during transportation, placing bags within wheeled bins or other suitable rigid containers, or loading them directly into leak proof vehicles or containers, can reduce the risk of spillage 
  • Spillages/leakage of wastes stored at the customer’s site should be dealt with by site staff following their own organisation’s clean-up procedures 
  • Provision of appropriate personal protective equipment, what to do in an emergency/ sharps injury, as well as fire and first aid procedures. 

Disposal and Handling of Infectious Waste

Organisations should provide coloured waste receptacles specifically for each category of waste.  The colour-coding system aims to ensure immediate, easy and unambiguous (clear) identification and segregation of the waste, which you are handling or going to treat.  Liquid infectious wastes need to be placed in capped or tightly stoppered bottles or flasks; large quantities would need a containment tank. Solid or semi-solid wastes should be packed in durable, tear resistant plastic bags.   Special packaging is required for items to be incinerated. These need to be put in combustible containers.  Similarly items to be sterilised by steam need containers that allow the passage of steam and air.  Clean clothes can be used to wrap items that need to be autoclaved or sterilised.
Chemical Disinfections, also known as High-Level Disinfections (HLD), are the preferred treatment for liquid infectious wastes. It can also be used for solid infectious waste treatment. The chemical disinfectants are hazardous to skin and mucous membranes, and it should not be applied without wearing gloves and goggles. Treatment should be at an approved facility prior to landfill disposal or supervised burial in a landfill in a scheduled area.

Carts and recyclable containers used for transport of healthcare waste should be disinfected after each use. Sanitary staff and sweepers must wear proper protective clothing at all times when handling infectious waste including face masks, aprons, boots, and heavy duty gloves, as required.

Published October 2014 

47. Scotland's Church Trust

Scotland’s Churches Trust aims to advance the preservation, promotion and understanding of Scotland’s rich architectural heritage represented in its churches and places of worship of all denominations. Its purposes are:

  • to advance heritage and religion by the preservation and upkeep of churches and other places of worship, including churchyards; 
  • to encourage churches and other places of worship to open to welcome visitors, tourists and pilgrims; 
  • to advance education and promote understanding of the public about the history, art, architecture and traditions of churches and other places of worship and their position as a focal point in the community; and 
  • to provide grants or donations to other charitable or religious individuals, bodies or organisations with aims analogous to the foregoing purposes or, more generally, with the common purpose of maintaining churches and other places of worship. 

The Trust has been formed as a Scottish Charitable Trust (SCIO number: SC043105) following the merger of Scotland’s Churches Scheme and the Scottish Churches Architectural Heritage Trust. It is based at 15 North Bank St, Edinburgh EH1 2LP.
Scotland possesses a surprising and delightful diversity of buildings designed for worship, deriving in part from its complicated and rich church history.
The Trust incorporates the former Scotland’s Churches Scheme which was established in 1994. In 2012, the Scheme merged with Scottish Architectural Heritage Trust which had been formed in 1978 to assist congregations in the preservation and upkeep of their buildings. The present
Scotland’s Churches Trust has more than 1300 churches in membership operating an ‘open doors’ policy.
These churches are spread across Scotland and across all the religious denominations. They contain a significant part of the nation’s heritage with the major proportion being ‘listed’ buildings, many being Category A.
Scotland’s Churches Trust successfully promotes access to the nation’s ecclesiastical heritage, with many of our buildings - large and small, urban and rural - in membership. The success to date, over a relatively short period, is hugely encouraging and has the potential of further raising awareness of our spiritual heritage and making it more accessible to a wider audience.

Maintain your Church
The Church Buildings Maintenance in Scotland project is designed to provide learning modules, toolkit modules and resources that will enable you to increase your knowledge of how to maintain your church.
The Maintenance Articles section on the Scotland’s Churches Trust website contains articles for study. The site also provides answers to problems generally experienced in maintaining a church and information about the architectural features found in Scottish churches.
There is further guidance in the downloadable materials, and you also have the opportunity to take part in discussion with other people involved in maintaining churches. In addition, you can jump-start your search by looking at the site’s FAQs. 


Published October 2014

48. Scotland: The Church Buildings Renewal Trust

The Church Buildings Renewal Trust (CBRT) is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee. It was set up in Glasgow “to promote, for the public benefit, the conservation of church buildings of architectural merit or historic interest which have ceased to be used for religious purposes”.
(CBRT Memorandum of Association (1994))
The Church Buildings Renewal Trust has been at the forefront of conserving Glasgow’s ecclesiastical heritage since 1994. In its role as an ‘influencing trust’ it has played a key part in advocating the renewal of all church buildings throughout Scotland to prevent redundancy regardless of denomination.
The CBRT is not funded by any organisation; its income is derived from funds raised through events and gifts. Trustees meet bi-monthly and voluntarily. The principal aim of the CBRT, as outlined in the Memorandum of Association (1994), is to promote the conservation of (Glasgow’s) ecclesiastical fabric and help identify solutions to bring redundant church buildings back into community life. The CBRT aims to stimulate discussion and publicise the issue of redundant churches; the focus is on bringing groups together to talk.
In this capacity, the CBRT has organised conferences and exhibitions in partnership with a number of other charitable trusts, coordinated Church Open Days and undertaken research into Glasgow’s churches in conjunction with the Mackintosh School of Architecture. The Trust advises on a range of issues, including effective maintenance and repair; appropriate adaptation and extension; and practicable alternative uses of redundant church buildings.
CBRT’s main aims
The main aims of the Church Buildings Renewal Trust are:

  • to promote, for the public benefit, the conservation of church buildings of architectural merit or historic interest which have ceased to be used for religious purposes 
  • to advance education and, in particular, to increase public knowledge and awareness of the architectural value of church buildings, the alternative uses to which such buildings may be put and the most effective means by which the maintenance, repair and/or adaptation of such buildings may be progressed.

Contact CBRT  info@cbrt.org.uk

The Church Buildings Renewal Trust 
c/o Saint Andrews in the Square
1 St Andrews Square 
Glasgow G1 5PP 
Tel: 0141 559 5902 
Fax: 0141 548 6029

General links
Building Conservation www.buildingconservation.com
Historic Religious Buildings Alliance: www.hrballiance.org.uk
The Historic Religious Buildings Alliance was set up in 2008 and brings together those working for a secure future for historic religious buildings. 
Useful links for Scottish churches
Scotland’s Churches Trust: www.scotlandschurchestrust.org.uk/ 
Scottish Church Heritage Research: www.scottishchurches.org.uk/ 
For advice on maintenance of churches: www.scotlandschurchestrust.org.uk/maintain-your-church  
For churches looking to do work with their buildings around climate change: www.ecocongregationscotland.org
Historic Scotland’s technical advice notes can also be very helpful:
Published on October 2014
49. Septic Tanks

Legislation & guidance
Many rural churches which are situated away from mains drainage and sewer pipelines have to rely on septic tanks for their disposal of waste water etc. There are strict guidelines regarding what types of septic tank systems or packaged treatment plants can be installed and where they can be located.
Up until April 2010 a consent to discharge was required by the Environment Agency but this has now been replaced by permit to discharge as part of the Environmental Permitting Programme, second edition (EPP2). Exemption forms are available for sewage treatment plants discharging 5 cubic metres per day or less into surface water (the equivalent of a population of 27) or for septic tanks and packaged treatment plants discharging 2 cubic metres per day or less into groundwater (the equivalent of a population of 11).
The requirement to register small domestic sewage discharges from septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants has changed in England, as a result of regulations made in 2010 by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Welsh Government, as part of the implementation of the European Union Water Framework Directive. Registration was considered to provide the lightest touch approach to meet legal obligations.
It is important that Church Councils are conversant with the Environment Agency’s Regulatory Position Statement 116 for details of registration and penalties for nonregistration. Registration was required by January 2012.
Specialist guidance on the specific requirements and location for the installation are recommended; every site and situation is different and a specialist contractor should visit the site before site specific recommendations are made. Site visits may also be required by the relevant agencies prior to permission being granted for certain installations.
General guidelines include:

  • Septic tanks should have a capacity below the level of the inlet of at least 2,700 litres (2.7 cubic metres) for up to 4 users. The size should be increased by 180 litres for each additional user. 
  • All sewage treatment plants now for sale must have been tested and hold the EN 12566-3 2005 certificate
    • Septic tanks should be sited at least seven metres from any buildings, and preferably down slope and downwind.
    • The soakaway must be a minimum of 10 metres from a watercourse,  15 metres from a building and 50 metres from a borehole or spring. 
    • Where they are to be emptied using a tanker, they should be sited within 15 metres of a vehicle access point and at such levels that they can be emptied and cleaned without hazard to the building occupants and without the contents being taken through a dwelling or place of work. 
    • The soakaway must be designed to BS6297: 2007 and all percolation test results must be submitted
    • Soakaway drains must be constructed in the aerobic soil layer, i.e. within 700 mm of ground level.
    • If the discharge is to a soakaway, a sampling chamber must be provided before the soakaway. 
    • Septic tanks may also be constructed in brickwork, concrete, or reinforced concrete, roofed with heavy concrete slabs. Brickwork should be of engineering bricks and be at least 220 mm thick. The mortar should be a mix of 1:3 cement:s and ratio. In-situ concrete should be at least 150 mm thick of C/25/P mix.
    • The inlet and outlet of a septic tank should be designed to prevent disturbance to the surface scum or settled sludge and should incorporate at least two chambers or compartments operating in series. Where the width of the tank does not exceed 1,200 mm the inlet should be via a dip pipe. 
    • To minimise turbulence, provision should be made to limit the flow rate of the incoming foul water. For steeply laid drains up to 150 mm the velocity may be limited by laying the last 12 m of the incoming drain at a gradient of 1 in 50 or flatter. 
    • The inlet and outlet pipes of a septic tank should be provided with access for sampling and inspection 
    • Septic tanks should be provided with access for emptying and cleaning. Access covers should be of durable quality having regard to the corrosive nature of the tank contents. The access should be lockable or otherwise engineered to prevent personnel entry.

It is recommended that Church Councils as Managing Trustees examine the building and drainage regulations and visit the Environment Agency website for further information:  www.gov.uk/permits-you-need-for-septic-tanks.
Also of use and with detailed explanation of the requirements are:
www.wte-ltd.co.uk/wastewater_legislation.html www.ukseptictanks.co.uk/septic-tank-regulations 

Published October 2014

50. Solar Panels

For further guidance on solar panels, please refer to the guidance from EcoChurch on Solar Photovoltaic Panels

Additionally, Historic England have produced guidance on Solar Electric (Photovoltaics).  Please note that this advice note describes the different options available and how they work as well as advice on how to minimise the potential damage to fabric and visual impact of a renewable installation. 

51. Standing Orders relating to Property

CLICK HERE to view the most current version of CPD.

CPD Part 9 details the various requirements for property and includes the following sections: 

Sec 90 Introductory and Interpretation 
Sec 91 Administration of Trusts
Sec 92 Use of Methodist premises
Sec 93 Projects
Sec 94 The Local Church
Sec 95  The Circuit
Sec 96 The District Sec
97 Connexional Priority Fund
Sec 98 Listed Building works
Sec 99 Property Development Committee.

For the DPS, Sec 96 is important and contain the following standing orders:

952 Quinquennial Reports 
960 Appropriate District Authority
961 Projects 
962 Development Plan 
963 Advance Funds 
964 Supervision of Circuit Meetings 
965 Manses 
966 District Property 
Charter for Outing and Incoming Ministers, Part 2 Guidelines on the provision of Adequate Accommodation for Manses, Book VII

Other property related standing orders include:

S.O. 932 Requirements
S.O. 934 Shared Projects
S.O. 935 Housing Associations
S.O. 941 Particular Responsibilities 
S.O. 952 Quinquennial Inspections  
S.O. 953 Local Property
S.O. 954 Circuit Property 
S.O. 964 Supervision of Circuit Meetings
S.O. 966 District Property

As well, sections from Parts 4 and 5 have references regarding property:  

470 Responsibilities
471 Advisory Panel
472 Manses
473 Archives
474 New Chapels
475 Scotland
Section 53 The Circuit Stewards
530 Appointment
531 Responsibilities
532 Circuit Fund
533 Manses

Updated October 2021

52. Vandalism

The following actions are suggested:

  • Notify the local police to report the crime and you could as for assistance in securing the property
  • Report the incident on the government website on Report Vandalism or Report Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour. 
  • Notify your property insurer of a potential claim, for example Methodist Insurance and Ecclesiastical.  Methodist Insurance have some guidance on Church Security.

As well, you may wish to consider a roof alarm system.  At the moment, there is a grant available on from Benefact Trust

Other preventive measures would be anti-climb paint, CCTV cameras, chaining up wheelie bins (prevents being used a step up) and undertaking a security assessment.  There are local police advisors for security that can be found on Secured by Design.    

 With regards to graffiti, Historic England have produced this comprehensive guidance on Graffiti on Historic Buildings.  It describes the types of graffiti and historic materials affected, the legal context for reporting and prosecuting graffiti crime, general advice on removing graffiti, best technical practice expected of specialist graffiti-removal contractors, and prevention measures. It also addresses wider cultural developments, notably the increased public recognition and acceptance of ‘street art’, and the consequent need to define the boundaries between street art and unwanted graffiti.

53. Water Charges

Changes to charges in certain areas

Some churches will be aware that certain water and sewerage companies have introduced changes to the way in which they charge for their services and in particular the way in which surface water drainage charges are applied. As a consequence, some churches will have seen significant increases in their water charges – or indeed may have received a bill for the first time.

As this issue affects churches of all denominations the matter has been taken up ecumenically through the Churches Legislation Advisory Service (CLAS), the name of the new body that has replaced the Churches Main Committee.

OFWAT (the government’s independent regulatory body) has met representatives of CLAS and has explained that those water authorities that have introduced new charging arrangements have done so in response to their own recommendations. OFWAT considers this to be a fairer basis, which helps to redress an historic situation whereby some customers benefit from a subsidy, effectively at the expense of others.

England and Wales

By 2009, 4 out of the 10 water and sewerage companies in England and Wales had introduced charges to non-household customers for surface water drainage based upon site area, some on a phased basis, namely:

 Severn Trent - commenced 2000-01
Yorkshire Water - commenced 2001-02
Northumbrian Water - commenced 2006-07
United Utilities - commenced 2008-09

 It will be a matter for the other six water and sewerage companies to decide on when and whether to make similar changes to the way such charges are levied. It would be prudent to check on the current situation via the web links below.

The situation in Scotland is different as Scottish Water is publicly owned and the Scottish Government have stated that churches and small charities would remain exempt from these charges until 2014.

Basis of water company charges

For clarification, water company bills normally comprise three separate elements:

  1.  Water supply charges will vary depending upon whether the supply is metered or not. 
  2. Foul water drainage charges usually follow those for water supply, whether this is based upon measured volume via a water meter, or for example on a rateable value of the premises. Separate arrangements are likely to apply where foul drainage from the premises is to a septic tank rather than the foul water sewer. 
  3. Surface water drainage – this is where the main changes to water companies’ tariffs based on site area have, or are likely to, impact upon church’s bills.

Site area-based charges

Under site area-based charging, there are likely to be two elements:

  1. To reflect the amount of rainwater which falls upon roofs and non-permeable surfaces and drains to the public surface water sewer. 
  2. Highway drainage which may, for example in United Utilities case, constitute 50% of the total surface water drainage charge. 

In relation to the former, water companies should agree to a rebate for premises which can demonstrate that rainwater within their site falls on permeable ground (eg gardens, graveyards, gravel car parking areas) and/or from roof areas into soakaways. 

It is quite likely that customers will need to apply to the water companies for such rebates setting out the basis for their case. 

General guidance for Managing Trustees

In view of the above the following guidance is offered for Managing Trustees if and when they receive bills from their water company which differ from those they are used to:

  • Carefully check all elements of the bill to establish if they are correct; 
  • Check whether the premises drain to the public sewer or to soakaways; 
  • Check whether the plans used by the water company to calculate the site area charge are accurate and have been applied in accordance with the water company’s information. Then identify any portion of the site which does not drain to the public sewer; 
  • If there are grounds for the calculations to be reviewed, the Managing Trustees should apply to the company for a rebate. It is not recommended that payment is witheld, but if the Managing Trustees are unsure about the accuracy of the bill they should write to state that they do not agree with the Company’s calculation and give notice of their possible intention to appeal. 

If the Managing Trustees have a dispute with the way their water company has assessed their site area in the first instance they should raise it direct with the Company. If they have contacted the company and are still not happy, or if they find them to be uncooperative, they should ask their local Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) Committee to investigate. It would also be prudent to copy TMCP in on any formal correspondence concerning disputes.
 The Churches Legislation Advisory Service (www.churcheslegislation.org.uk/home) is continuing in its endeavours to take matters up with the appropriate government minister. This information will be updated in the light of further developments.
Further information is available on the websites of:

Published October 2014

Back to Property

Share this