Closing Church Buildings
Please contact Charlotte Vickers, Secretary to the Church Buildings Strategy Committee (CBSC) as early as possible if you are considering the closure of your church, and the CBSC will guide you through the process. Click here to e-mail Charlotte, or telephone 01392 294945.
A flow chart simply explaining the process for the closure for regular public worship of a church building can be downloaded here: Flow chart: Closing a church building
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 the Church Buildings Strategy Committee, a sub committee of the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee. Please click to read the CBSC Constitution and Mission Statement.
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 goes towards the Church’s share of financing the Churches Conservation Trust or helps with the maintenance of churches pending a decision on their future.
Further detailed information on the closure process can be found on the Closed Churches section of the Church Commissioners website.
English Heritage have published a guide to New Uses for Former Places of Worship. This provides advice on the conversion to new use of historic former places of worship. It is primarily intended to be of benefit to new or potential new owners or occupiers of such buildings. It will also provide clarity for local authorities on the approach taken by English Heritage when advising on proposals for reuse.
If you are considering the options for your Church Building, a good starting place might be to work through the steps in this Church Buildings Route Map.
Loans have been made available from the Diocesan Building Fund to support Mission Communities and parishes in support of the Moving on in Growth agenda by providing funds to enable:
- the review and rationalisation of a Mission Community’s building stock
- the re-ordering of church buildings (both consecrated and non-consecrated) to better provide for church and/or community use
- the repair and improvement of church buildings including heating systems.
For further information about this fund, please click here to go to our Funding page.
A toolkit which can be used for the first point above (review and rationalisation of a Mission Community’s building stock) can be found here Church Buildings Audit Toolkit