Re-ordering a Catholic Church

Re-ordering a Catholic Church

Obtaining permission (Ecclesiastical Exemption) to carry out works to a Listed Ecclesiastical Building is complex. The proposed re-ordering works at the church of Our Lady and St Patrick, All Saints Parish, Teignmouth involved a lengthy negotiation, design & construction period as outlined below.

A variety of liturgies are celebrated within the parish church & with an increasing desire to explore new ways of expressing the Christian faith in liturgy, the current ordering and layout of the church had become restrictive.

With the advent of the Second Vatican Council came the desire that parishioners should be able to participate fully in the liturgy of the Church. This resulted in a series of interior modifications that were detrimental in terms of atmosphere, practicality of use & safety. The original vision of its architect Charles Hansom and benefactors has been lost by the compromises that have been made across the years.

The greatest issue is the access into the church itself. The church is located on a hill resulting with the main door to the south being accessed only by a series of steep steps, which are problematic and dangerous for many members of the congregation.

Subsequent to the recent demolition of the parish hall, the community facilities are very limited resulting with the gathering space being limited to the ‘Parish Room’, a large downstairs room in the Presbytery. This has a small kitchen to the west and one toilet, neither of which can be considered adequate or suiting the community. A scheme was required therefore, which reflects the life, the diversity, the faith and the nature of the community. Grainge Architects were engaged to provide a solution to the above issues and to manage the required HCC & planning permission process.

The Ecclesiastical Exemption (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Order 2010 enables the Church to exercise its’ role as the steward of its own built inheritance. As such, listed building consent for works in Catholic churches is given by the Historic Churches Committee, through a faculty issued in the name of the Archbishop, instead of by the local planning authority. Churches of the Catholic Church are therefore exempt from Listed Building Control, but not exempt from planning permission. The nature & purpose of the church for the celebration of the liturgy and its pastoral and missionary roles are taken into account by the HCC whilst considering any proposals for repairs, alterations or re-ordering. Without the authority of a faculty, no relevant works can be undertaken.

Relevant works includes any works such as partial demolition, alteration, repair or extension, which would affect the character of the relevant structure as a building of special architectural or historic interest. This includes any object or structure within the building and any other separately listed structures attached to or within the curtilage of a listed church building.

Proposals were discussed with the Parish Council, Finance Committee and the Diocesan Treasurer. During this process, the Secretary of the Historic Churches Committee provided advice and guidance. All the necessary application forms, drawings & justification statements were submitted to the HCC secretary six weeks before the date of the meeting of the Committee. Copies of the papers were issued by HCC to English Heritage, the Local Authority Conservation Officer and the Victorian Society. Any comments received were taken into account by the HCC when considering the application. We were invited to attend the committee meeting in March 2013 at the Historic Churches Committee for the Dioceses of Southwark, Arundel & Brighton, Portsmouth, Plymouth & Clifton at Douai Abbey where we made a brief presentation. The scheme was received positively resulting in the subsequent awarding of a Faculty.

In parallel to the above, a planning application was submitted to the Local planning Authority with conditional planning permission granted March 2013. Work is currently progressing on site with completion due September 2014.


Grainge Architects Teignmouth Church 2

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