When a Church Building Closes
Churches, like other buildings, can
outlive their original purpose. Those no longer required by the
Church of England for regular public worship may be closed by a
scheme under the provisions of the Pastoral Measure
1983. The Measure also sets out procedures for settling the
future of these buildings. The main emphasis is on finding suitable
alternative uses for listed buildings or those within conservation
areas which are often important parts of our national heritage.
Each diocese is responsible for
seeking new uses for closed church buildings in its area. This work
is carried out by a Diocesan Mission
and Pastoral Committee, or a sub-committee thereof, which
usually appoints agents to market these buildings.
If a suitable use and purchaser /
lessee has been identified, the Commissioners prepare a draft
scheme for public consultation. The prospective user will also have
to apply for listed building consent and planning consent where
applicable. The Commissioners will obtain independent advice from a
Statutory Advisory Committee of the Church Buildings Council on any
conversion plans. If there are representations against the
proposal, the CBUDC will adjudicate. Any transfer of the property
will be subject to various covenants, giving the Church a residual
interest in what happens to the building.
The final decision about the future
of closed church buildings rests with the Church Commissioners.
They are helped by the advice of the Statutory Advisory Committee
of the Church Buildings Council. Before a proposal for a new use,
demolition or preservation can take effect the Commissioners
(through their Closed Churches Division) must prepare and publish a
draft scheme and consider any representations.
The Church Commissioners distribute
the proceeds of the sale of closed churches and sites. At least
two-thirds of the proceeds are returned to dioceses for the support
of the living Church and are used for purposes such as clergy
stipends and housing and new church buildings - a sum of
approximately £26 million since 1969. A one-third share towards the
Church's share of financing the Churches Conservation Trust or
helps with the maintenance of churches pending a decision on their
future is available.
If you have a general enquiry or comments about these
web pages please contact: Fiona McKenzie