How do I apply for listed building approval?

You need to submit the following information:

Statements of Significance and Statements of Need

Your professional advisor can use the Statement of Significance and Statement of Need to successfully design a scheme that conserves the significance of the building but successfully enhances and allows the long sustainability and continuation of mission. The church, with assistance from the accredited professional, should embark on understanding the architectural and historic significance of your church. A Guidance note on how this should be carried out and presented can be found online.

It should include some assessment of the significance, in terms of high, medium and low, of the interior and exterior of the church, including its setting. Once this is complete there should be a section on how the proposed changes impact on this significance.

In addition to the Church’s mission statement you will also need to complete a Statement of Need, which is your opportunity to set out the church’s vision and aims and to explain the needs of your worshiping community. This allows those advising and deciding on your proposals to fully understand whether the impact on the significance of the building is justifiable.

The more harm the proposed changes are likely to cause to the significance of the building, the more they will require justification in terms of the public benefits they will bring. Such benefits might include securing viable long-term use for the building, mitigating the effects of climate change or making the building more accessible. Often this need for change may result from the need to meet basic objectives, such as improved heating or new toilets and kitchens and we recognise that some new work will help enhance or better reveal the significance of your place of worship.  

If once specific proposals have been drawn up they seem likely to conflict with any aspect of the building’s significance, a detailed statement of need should be written to justify it. This should explain not only why work is necessary, but also why the need has to be addressed in the particular manner proposed. A detailed statement of need should set out:

  • What the objectives of the congregation are in proposing changes
  • What changes are necessary to achieve the objectives
  • Why the proposed works are needed now
  • What evidence there is for the stated need
  • Who will benefit from the changes
  • How the changes will affect the use of the building in the medium and long term
  • What other options have been considered and why they were rejected
  • How the harm caused by the changes has been minimised or mitigated

An example can be found online.

It is important that the church incudes as much evidence as possible to justify the changes, and should include and make reference to any consultations with interested stakeholders. If the church wishes to encourage new uses and users, then you should be specific about who these groups are and explain exactly what their requirements will be.

Drawings and Photographs

Clear and accurate drawings will be required in support of your application. It is advisable that these are prepared by the church’s professional advisor. To assist photocopying it would be helpful to have drawings at A3 size. All drawings, including reduced drawings, need to be fully legible when photocopied.  It is important for ‘as existing’ drawings to be supplied as well ‘as proposed’ drawings. All drawings should be fully annotated to indicate materials, method of construction and surface finishes. The ‘as proposed’ drawings need to be sufficiently detailed to be able to appreciate the full nature, extent and content of the proposed works.

The following drawings are normally required:

  • An Ordnance Survey extract, at a scale not less than 1:2500, showing the location of the building in relation to its surroundings;
  • A site plan showing the building in its context and identifying the site boundaries
  • Existing floor plans, sections and elevations, preferably at 1:50, but no smaller than 1:100
  • Proposed floor plans, sections and elevations, preferably at 1:50, but no smaller than 1:100
  • Detailed drawings may be required of doors, windows, mouldings etc. to a minimum scale of 1:20

Digital Photographs are preferred. The set of photographs should include:

  • External photographs to show the building in its setting, in the street scene, and in relation to neighbouring buildings. General views of the exterior of the building concerned are required.
  • Detailed views and close ups of any parts of the building to be altered
  • General views of the interior, including detailed views and close-ups of any parts which will be subject to alteration. It is not necessary to supply photographs of other rooms and spaces which will be totally unaffected by the proposed works.
  • Where specific items (fixtures or fittings) are proposed for removal or alteration (e.g. pews, pulpits), they should be fully photographed, so that their detailing is clear. If the application is approved, archival quality photographs and/or drawings are likely to be needed subsequently for record purposes.

What Happens Next?

All the information is sent to the Connexional Conservation Officer who will process this in accordance with Standing Order 982 and the Code of Practice agreed with central government. A period of consultation with statutory bodies and amenity societies will commence (28 days) and if necessary the application will be presented to the Listed Buildings Advisory Committee for their advice. All representations are shared with the church. In the event of any objection or concern the church has the option to respond and/or modify their proposals, and are encouraged to liaise with the Connexional Conservation Officer in this regard.

When considering whether to consent to a project for listed building works we have to adhere to our statutory duty to preserve historic church buildings, the importance of protecting features of architectural merit and historic interest and the archaeological implications of the scheme.

But we shall also consider the following:

  • The change in the worship needs of the congregation
  • Change required because of an increase or reduction in the congregation size
  • A wish to accommodate other activities within the building to help ensure its continued viability primarily as a place of worship
  • The impact of substantial structural changes, e.g. subdivision of important spaces
  • The removal or destruction of important fixtures and fittings
  • The impact on Evidential, Community, Aesthetic Value and Archaeological Interest

Once an agreed proposal is in place the Connexional Conservation Officer shall make a recommendation to the Methodist Council and a Section 98 decision notice will be written, authorised and sent to the local church. At this time conservation authorisation (Connexional approval) will be input on your project and this will then move to final consent which is recorded by the District. The approval may be conditional and thus it is important to note and discharge these conditions before the works commence.

It is very important that the church does not start works until final consent is in place. Failure to obtain listed building approval is a serious offence and can be a breach of trust. Unapproved listed building works will be taken very seriously and may be subject to enforcement action under Standing Order 985.

If the church is unhappy with the final decision or indeed any conditions attached to the decision notice they may appeal. The Methodist Church’s appeal policy is available online.

How do I make changes to a Listed Building?

What is the Ecclesiastical Exemption?

What is the Listed Buildings Advisory Committee?

Frequently Asked Questions


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