Building and Property

This section of our website offers guidance to parishes considering a building project or minor works to existing buildings.

Useful documents:

The full guidance for building projects can be found as an Appendix in the annual Diocesan Council report to Diocesan Synod and is also available from the Connor Diocesan Office in Church House, Belfast. This offers detailed information about how to undertake any building project in a parish, and includes guidance for minor works for which approval can be sought by application on a ‘Blue Form,’ the form for alterations to church buildings. 

However, the ‘quick guide’ below will assist parishes considering undertaking building projects, either large or relatively small.

a/ Always contact either the Chair of the Glebes and Architectural Committee, Pauline High (07843 661629), Glebes Secretary, Jim Patterson (028 9022 4098) or the Clerical Assistant Elaine Wright (028 9082 8830) before embarking on any building project in a parish – they will provide advice and explain the approvals process (as well as, if appropriate, possible grants).

b/ All parochial building projects must have Diocesan approval before they can commence and, if the church/rectory/parish hall is vested in the RCB (which the majority are), the RCB must also give approval before any work can begin.

c/ The approval process can be summarised – as follows:

  • Initial contact as at ‘A’ above.
  • Plans including site maps, schedule of works and costs, prepared by a suitably qualified Professional (such as Chartered Architect / Chartered Architectural technologist / Chartered building surveyor) are submitted to the Diocesan Office for Glebes and Architectural Committee/RCB consideration.  If the works involve an extension to a listed building it is recommended that appropriate conservation accreditation is held by the professional. If the building works involve an extension to or refurbishment of an existing building the Glebes and Architectural Committee will also need a plan of that building and a brief description of the changes and the reasons for them AND confirmation that the Select Vestry is aware of the Asbestos regulations and that the appropriate arrangements are in place to comply.
  • If it is felt necessary, there may be a visit to site by Glebe and Architectural Committee representatives and/or parish representatives will be invited to attend a Glebes and Architectural meeting.
  • Revision of plans, if necessary.
  • Confirmation that the Select Vestry is fully aware of its responsibilities as ‘client’ under the CDM2016 Ni regulations and the arrangements are in place to comply. Confirmation of ‘Principal Designer’ should be supplied.
  • Glebes and Architectural Committee make recommendation(s) to Diocesan Council.
  • Diocesan Council make a recommendation to RCB, if satisfied with the plans and that parish can meet the cost of the project.
  • Approval by RCB Property Committee and Executive Committee.
  • Tender process managed by qualified professional (such as architect/quantity surveyor/building surveyor). This can be simultaneous with points 7 & 8 above.
  • Contract signed between contractor and RCB, only after full approvals given (see point 7).

d/ The RCB will approve stage payments for the building project only when the professional involved has signed off an interim completion certificate. There should always be a retention clause to cover defects which may arise after completion and all contracts should allow for a contingency to help with any unforeseen difficulties which may arise during the project.

e/ In addition, parishes must comply with all other legislation on an ongoing basis, ie:

  • The Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and the Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010. Particularly the requirement to hold a current fire risk assessment management strategy. In some cases, particularly where means of escape may be an issue (ie balcony situation), it may be necessary to employ a fully qualified Fire Engineer.
  • The Asbestos regulations (particularly the need to hold and make available an asbestos register for all buildings built prior to 2000)
  • Health and Safety policy requirements:
    General Health and Safety, H&S at work etc
    Electrical installation testing (3 or 5 years as appropriate)
    Regular fire alarm / emergency lighting testing
    Regular boiler / equipment servicing
    Check insurance requirements / conditions for others.

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