Frequently Asked Questions

Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas

Can I do any work to my listed building without consent?

No. You must always contact the Connexional Conservation Officer before starting any work on a listed building. If you fail to do so you may be liable for the cost of putting it right.

My chapel is in a conservation area. Can I do internal maintenance work without the approval of the Conservation Officer?

You should always first check with the Conservation Officer.

Any project which involves a listed building or a non-listed building in a conservation area requires the Conservation Officer to complete the Conservation Authorisation section even if the project is a sale, lease, sharing agreement or easement.

Can we make alterations to listed buildings?

Yes, but listed building approval must be given by the Connexional Conservation Officer, with final consent for the project given by your district, before work begins on site.

Projects have been approved for seemingly radical alterations to listed buildings so, if you have a project in mind, don't be put off by the listed status. Each project will be considered on its own merits, though early consultation with the Connexional Conservation Officer is essential.

Does my project need approval from the Connexional Team?

Under the Consents process, your project will only require Connexional consent if it involves the following:

  1. A listed building
  2. A non-listed building within a conservation area
  3. Registration of a Sharing Agreement
  4. Work on a building which is shared with another denomination – connexional consent is required to check the terms of any funding involved.

If your project involves one of the above it must first be approved by the Connexional Conservation Officer or the Connexional Ecumenical Officer before being referred to the Consent Giving Body for final consent.

Do we need to send technical drawings/plans to the Connexional Team?

You only have to send technical drawings and plans to the Connexional Conservation Officer for projects involving work to listed buildings or non-listed buildings in conservation areas. Technical drawings and plans for other types of project should be uploaded to the documents tab on your project

You can also choose to request specific technical guidance (for projects which do not effect listed buildings) from the Facilities and Property Co-ordinator through the Additional tab

What does "Ecclesiastical Exemption" mean?

The Ecclesiastical Exemption (Listed Buildings and Conservation) legislation exempts certain denominations from having to obtain Local Authority Listed Building Consent for the alteration of any listed building, or any non-listed building in a conservation area used for ecclesiastical purposes.

The Ecclesiastical Exemption (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas)(England) Order 2010 gives exemption from listed building and conservation area consent for the Methodist Church and the other main denominations. The relevant legislation for Wales is The Ecclesiastical Exemption (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Order 1994.

There is an agreed code of practice which entitles the Methodist Church to make its own informed decisions on these types of building proposals through the Connexional Conservation Officer.

As part of this code of practice, the Conservation Officer must consult English Heritage (or Cadw in Wales) and other relevant authorities regarding each project, while churches must also advertise their plans locally. This involves putting a notice outside your church for a project involving internal alterations and, in addition, an advertisement in a local newspaper for external alterations. The Conservation Officer can advise you on how to go about this and will later need to see evidence that this process has been followed in order to approve your project.

Do we still have to apply for planning permission from the local authority or are we exempt through the Ecclesiastical Exemption?

Yes, if your architect states that you need planning permission then you must apply for this through your local authority. Planning permission is completely separate to the listed building/conservation area approvals made by the Connexional Conservation Officer through the Ecclesiastical Exemption.

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If you do not have an architect and would like clarification on whether you need planning permission, contact your local authority planning department.

For guidance on ecclesiastical exemption contact the Connexional Conservation Officer.

We are looking to develop a listed building. At what point in the process should we make contact with the Connexional Team? Q

It is recommended that you contact the Connexional Conservation Officer at a very early stage. By doing this at the very beginning, you will benefit from the officer's experience when planning your project and iron out potential problems, thus minimising the chance of delays and non-approvals.

How can we check if our building is listed or in a conservation area?

You can find out if your building is in a conservation area - and thus subject to potential planning restrictions - by contacting your local authority. Local authorities can also confirm whether your building has listed status.

Are there any grants available for listed buildings?

There are a number of dedicated funds available to support listed building projects, including Heritage Lottery Fund grants, Historic England or Cadw.

Many local authorities also provide grants for work on listed buildings, while you can apply for VAT savings on this type of building work from HM Revenue and Customs.

For further guidance on funding a property project contact the Connexional Fundraising Officer.

There is also more information to be found in the section on Funding and Payments

Which parts of a building are listed?

It is a common misconception that only the exterior of a building is listed. This is incorrect; all of the building, inside and out is covered by the listing. The list description is simply a shorthand, often describing just some of the main features.

Our chapel is listed. What about our hall?

Any building or structure which is either physically attached to the main listed building or within the same enclosed grounds (curtilage) is also treated as listed.

What else can be listed?

Sometimes additional items such as gates, walls, railings, gravestones and monuments may be separately listed rather than included in the main listing. Where this is the case, the Ecclesiastical Exemption does not apply and you would have to seek consent from your local authority if your project involved any work with them.

For further information contact the Connexional Conservation Officer.

Can we do any work to a listed building without permission, such as repairs?

No. All alterations to listed buildings must first be approved by the Connexional Conservation Officer, without exception.

This also includes repairs, where they must check specifications and the suitability of materials involved. For example, the use of the wrong cement mortar may cause considerable damage as well as changing the appearance of a building.

Do we need permission to remove pews in a listed building?

Yes. The Conservation Officer will consider each project on its own merits.

Do we need to approach English Heritage/Cadw or local authority planning departments regarding work to our listed or conservation area building

The Ecclesiastical Exemption means that churches do not need to approach local authorities and national amenity bodies because this is all done on your behalf by the Connexional Conservation Officer.

Individual churches can still contact them for advice at any time but it is important to remember that listed building/conservation area approval can only be granted by the Connexional Conservation Officer.

Secondly, please remember that some projects will also need planning permission from local authorities. You should therefore make a planning permission application to your local authority AFTER being granted the listed/conservation area approval.

I am a managing trustee of a listed chapel in Scotland. Do we apply to the Connexional Conservation Officer for listed building approval?

Yes, you will still need to liaise with the conservation officer before beginning your project.

Can we apply for local authority planning permission before we get listed building approval?

You can but it is not recommended because you may be asked by the Conservation Officer to alter your plans in order to obtain listed building approval. If you have already applied for or been granted planning permission then you would have to resubmit this application to reflect these changes.

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