The Taylor Review, Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals, has been published. The scope of the Review is limited to listed buildings of the Church of England only. The report makes the following ten recommendations:
- Community Support Advisers: “A national network of Community Support Advisers (CSAs) should be put in place to build cross-community relationships, and promote wider and more mixed use of church buildings”.
- Process Simplification: “The Church of England should continue its work to simplify church buildings’ management through the Faculty System. This work should prioritise elements relating to adaptations to allow the building to remain in use both as a place of worship and a community resource, and seek to harmonise the process across all dioceses”.
- Legal Clarification: “The law should be clarified, whether through legislative change or the issue of guidance, to establish that local authorities are not prohibited from awarding funding to churches”.
- Fabric Support Officers: “A network of Fabric Support Officers (FSOs) should be implemented. This network will provide churches with access to skills and resources including maintenance assessment, building management and maintenance, and the ability to guide PCCs as to how to prioritise and fund works”.
- Minor Repairs Funding: “Repairs should be funded as much as possible locally, with the aim of this proportion increasing as, through the work of the CSAs, communities become more engaged. Any balance (to ensure timely execution of works) should come from a Minor Repairs Fund, to be administered on the advice of FSOs”.
- Inspection and Strategic Planning: “FSOs should visit each listed church building within their area of responsibility regularly (expected to be annually), and develop a Minor Repairs Plan, to be updated regularly, together with a rolling ten-year Major Repairs Plan. A review of these plans by church architects or surveyors every ve years should be carried out as part of a Quinquennial Inspection”.
- Responsibility: “The PCC of each church, as the body corporate with responsibility for the building fabric, should nominate a named individual to act on its behalf in taking forward routine maintenance and repairs, and to be the key point of contact for the Fabric Support Officer”.
- Major Repairs Funding: “Planned major repairs (long term maintenance) should be financed principally by local fundraising, and topped up where proven necessary from a Major Repairs Fund”.
- Cathedrals: “The Panel considers that a nationally administered fund for works to keep cathedrals safe and open, similar to the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, should be considered as a separate exercise”.
- Pilot schemes: “At least two pilot studies, covering both urban and rural contexts, should be conducted to test and develop the recommendations of this report”.
[With thanks to the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance.]