Historic Churches Committee
Although in canon law the ultimate authority in respect of church buildings and their liturgical use remains with the Church (see can. 838 §1), nevertheless the Church in England and Wales is subject to certain civil statutory obligations concerning church buildings under the Ecclesiastical Exemption (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Order 2010 (SI 2010 no 1176) (see Relationship of canon and civil law).
Historic Churches Committees are quasi-statutory bodies operating according to the Directory on the Ecclesiastical Exemption from Listed Building Control approved by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and the Department of Culture, Media & Sport. They regulate the 'ecclesiastical exemption' from listed building control. Following due process, they can grant the equivalent of listed building consent for works to listed and conservation area churches and chapel's currently in use for Catholic worship. Due process includes consultation with Historic England, the national amenity societies and the relevant local planning authorities.
Guidance as to the role of the Historic Churches Committee is also to be found in the recent document from the Bishops’ Conference Consecrated for Worship: Directory on Church Building.
In this Diocese
The Bishop has established such a Historic Churches Committee with statutory responsibility for granting Listed Building Consent for alterations to churches which are either Listed Building (by Historic England) or are situated in conservation areas. In addition, the Bishop has decided that any churches classified as potentially 'listable' will also fall under the remit of the Historic Churches Committee - see the Historic England Architectural and Historic Review of Churches in the Diocese "Taking Stock" in the Resouces section under the Miscellaneous button.
Full information with guidance and application details for project approvals is given on the Historic Churches Committee's website: www.hccsouthern.org.uk
Link to the Bishop
The Committee report to the Bishop on their work.