Churches Sustainability Review launches call for evidence

Churches Sustainability Review launches call for evidence

Annette McGill

A Government task force has launched an online survey asking for advice on how to look after church buildings and how to keep them part of local communities. 

The English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review was commissioned by the Government to examine the challenges faced by the need to maintain and fund ecclesiastical heritage buildings and to consider ways to ensure their long term sustainability as community assets.  

The Review panel has now issued a call for evidence designed to gather opinions from members of the public, as well as organisations interested in the future of ecclesiastical buildings. 

The panel says it wants to hear from those who are already involved in caring for a church, or those who might be interested in partnering with a church on behalf of their own business, voluntary or public service interests. The expert panel they would ”very much welcome” responses from local authorities and commercial and private sector organisations with experience of making community assets sustainable.

The Review is undertaking a year-long study of how church buildings are maintained and funded. It’s remit covers: 

  • Exploring new models of financing repairs and maintenance of churches and cathedrals, including reviewing existing maintenance costs and repairs funding from lottery and central government grants. The review would also identify and develop a series of tools/resources/models, draw on successful case studies, and existing management within the Church of England, Churches Conservation Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund. 
  • Consulting with stakeholders including: Church of England, church-goers, charities, local residents and business on ideas for uses of listed buildings for purposes beyond worship and current barriers that prevent these and how to generate revenue from these.

The  Church of England has recently conducted a major review of the stewardship of its cathedrals and 16,000 church buildings (75% of which are listed). The Church is responsible for over a third of England's grade I listed buildings.  

The majority of churches are already functioning as community hubs, providing a range of services to local people. However challenges remain: for example 75% of grade I listed churches are located in rural areas with small populations. Often, these fine historic buildings depend on a few local volunteers for their care and upkeep. 

To access the survey, follow this link: Churches Sustainability Review Survey

The survey will close at noon on Tuesday 31st January 2017.  The Review is due to publish its findings and recommendations in April 2017.