Access works in cathedrals

Cathedrals are beautiful historic buildings and living places of worship. They should be open to, and able to be enjoyed by all.

Cathedral Chapters have a responsibility, both as Christian places of worship and under the Equality Act 2010, to make reasonable provision for access, including identifying and dealing with any obstacle to accessing your cathedral and its precincts.

We can help to support you through this process.

Download our guidance

Southwark Cathedral

Where to begin?

Step one: carry out an access audit
Step two: develop an access policy
Step three: make sure all your policies and plans are consistent


Many types of works at your cathedral will have an access and accessibility dimension, even if that is not their focus (e.g. new lighting, reordering, or toilets).

You need to fully consider the access dimension of such works.

Develop your proposal

A named member of chapter should manage proposals to carry out access works or to install new access equipment.

The proposals should be developed in close discussion with the cathedral architect and archaeologist to make sure the impact of the work is understood and any necessary mitigation measures are incorporated from an early stage.

What permissions do you need?

For permanent additions (e.g. ramps or stair lifts)
For permanent alterations (e.g. digging a pit for a platform lift)
For installations that will last for less than twelve months

What do we look for in your application?

The Commission and your Fabric Advisory Committee will assess your proposal based on its material effect on the architectural, archaeological, artistic or historic character of the cathedral.

This includes:

  • Its physical impact on the fabric and archaeological remains
  • Its visual impact on the character of the building

Clearly set out how the visual impact and any archaeological impact will be mitigated.

Supporting information for your application

Include the following supporting information with your application to the Commission or your Fabric Advisory Committee:

  • An introductory statement by chapter with background information and putting the work in context
  • A statement of the need for the work
  • Reference to the cathedral’s access policy
  • Reference to the cathedral’s liturgical plan and conservation management plan
  • A description of the proposed work
  • Illustrative material (e.g. drawings, photographs, etc.)
  • Relevant technical information (e.g. equipment specifications, fixings, finishes, etc.)
  • Impact statements by the cathedral architect and archaeologist

Find out more about preparing applications

Accessibility in church buildings

Making your building accessible to everyone