Preparing statements of significance and need

Statements of Significance and Need should accompany every faculty application that involves making changes to a listed church, although it is good practice to prepare one and keep it with your church records, updating and adapting it as necessary, depending on the application being made.

A Statement of Significance is an important tool to help everyone understand the significance of the church building and its fabric and fittings. It is a useful resource for anyone with responsibility for your church’s fabric and encourages good stewardship of your historic building. The statement must be objective.

A Statement of Need is the parish’s opportunity to explain, justify and rationalise the proposals to all interested parties. It should be a document which serves both the parish and those involved in the faculty process, as well as a tool for the parish, enabling the PCC to focus its vision and agree on what it seeks to achieve. For the consultees such as the DAC, the Church Buildings Council and Historic England, it serves to provide easily accessible information to help assess the scheme which is being proposed for a faculty.

The role of the DAC is to balance the needs of mission, as well as conservation, so the Statement of Need really is a key opportunity for the parish to put across their vision and the needs of their church to the DAC advisers. Aim to make your statements interesting, readable and factual. Include photographs, historic plans and drawings to support the text.

The Church Buildings Council have produced guidance on writing these documents which can be accessed via their Churchcare website here. Templates are available for both standard projects and major complex projects, and PCCs are asked to use these templates when drafting their Statements.

  • A quick guide as to why these documents are necessary and useful, and how to go about putting them together can be viewed here.
  • Undertaking research into the history and development of your building is an important first step to gather the information needed to compile the Statement of Significance, and a guide to sources for the history of churches in Somerset can be accessed here.

Some churches have had a record made of their fixtures and fittings by the National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS), which is a useful staring point for detailing the contents of your church as part of the Statement of Significance. Visit the NADFAS website to read more about their Church Recording programme, and to search the list of past surveys which have been undertaken to see if your church has been recorded.

Who to contact

Emma Brown, Church Buildings Adviser