Strategic Buildings Review

Capable buildings enable discipleship, mission and ministry.


Buildings are a positive asset when they are fit for purpose, but conversely, can feel like an anchor, stopping a PCC and congregation from fully embodying it’s discipleship, mission and ministry.

When buildings are fit for purpose…

  • They play a key role in Transforming Lives, by acting as the stage for people’s major life events.
  • They play a major role in Growing Church by providing a sanctuary of peace, a space to worship God, and a place to teach and inspire.
  • They play many roles in Building Community - meeting place, polling station, community hub, food bank, spiritual resource centre, to name just a few.

A sustainable and relevant church building will potentially look very different from parish to parish, but working towards a Local Building Development Plan will give the PCC an opportunity to consider all the options and in turn, help reset or strengthen the connection between:

  • The church building and the vision of the PCC and congregation.
  • The church community and wider parish community

Creating a Local Building Development Plan is one way that can help you:

  • Identify or reaffirm the core vision and ministries of the PCC and congregation in relation to your local context.
  • Assess the current attributes and elements of the building.
  • Determine what the building needs, to support your vision & enable discipleship, mission and ministry within your local community.
  • Prioritize the changes needed and identify the resources required.

The very simple 4 step toolkit is something a PCC can use on its own or in concert with other resources.  However, it should always involve the wider parish community beyond the four walls.  Rmember, a church building is not a clubhouse, but a parish’s place of gathering, worship and sanctuary.

Here is the link to the Local Building Development Plan Tool



Last modified on Wednesday, 20 October 2021 09:20

Several people have asked ‘How do I reduce the file size of my picture to upload it on to the Strategic Buildings Review Database?’

One very simple way is to us on-line software such as www.picresize.com

If you haven’t used this type of program before, I have prepared an instructional video for you, which you can watch here:


I have chosen this software as it is very straight forward to use.  There are, however, other resizing apps and programs available.

All the best, and get uploading!

Your Deanery Administrators said it would be useful to have a preparation checklist, so that the responsible person(s) in each parish can pull together information and documentation before attempting to update the data - I hope this will help. 

Data Entry Check List

Last modified on Monday, 02 October 2017 12:36

Simply put, the review will report on what buildings we have, where they are, what state they are in and are they enabling the mission and ministry needs of the church, in the communities in which they sit.

Why are we having one?

In the words of the Chair of the DAC – ‘for our buildings to be an asset and not a burden we need to understand, manage and fully incorporate our property portfolio (Church buildings, halls, centres, etc.) into our Diocesan mission planning’.  The Diocese is taking its lead from the nation churches Buildings Review Group; follow this link for Scope & Context

How will parishes be involved?

Almost all the buildings across the Diocese are either owned or managed locally with the Parochial Church Council holding the responsibility for their care.  PCCs know their buildings best and understand their significance and their maintenance needs; what facilities they have and the uses to which they are put.  The best outcomes for your Parish and community are very much in your gift.  There will initially be a lot of information and data that the Review Group will need to pull together – some to complete a partial picture we already have and some that will paint a broader picture.

The Review Group is already in conversation with Deaneries looking at how we can minimise the impact and provide as much assistance as possible to enable parish engagement.

What will it produce?

The Strategic Buildings Review aims to deliver several positive outcomes for Parishes, Deaneries and the Diocese.

  • A better understanding of what we have and what we need
  • Options for sustainable ways forward in every parish
  • Updated heritage and ‘church near you’ records
  • Identification of ‘significant churches’ to become resource centres for mission
  • Refocused tools and other resources to support parishes in making their buildings fit for mission

So, what next?

The data collection phase is the foundation of the review and will happen over the next 6 months.  After that we envisage the following stages, culminating in a report for consideration by Diocesan Synod in Spring 2019

  1. The statistics: their accessibility and use
  2. Identifying the role and status of churches – categories
  3. Developing options and models for change – case studies
  4. Developing practical tools and other resources to support maintenance, insurance, faculties, fund raising and clergy training – developing resource
  5. Action Planning including Deanery Development Plans

Consultation will enable each stage to progress, but don’t wait to be asked – if you want information or clarification on where the review is up to or would like to make a positive suggestion or other contribution, then you can contact the core group on the following email: DDSBReview@gmail.com

Diocesan Synod ran an initial session in March, the output of which has been written up and has been informing some early discussions about Parish thinking regarding buildings and mission. Click here to download this report

Becky Clarke, Director of Cathedrals & Church Buildings Division, spoke at Synod Click here for her presentation

Last modified on Thursday, 31 August 2017 15:53

The national context is set out in the Church Buildings Review, which reported in January 2016.  It was chaired by the Rt Reverend Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester and Chair of the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division. It gives the parameters for this diocesan strategic review. The Review states that:

What is understood by ‘open for worship’ has evolved over time depending on local contexts and will need to evolve further for some buildings over the coming years. Legislation needs to facilitate this. 

More generally, the overall legislative framework governing the use and management of church buildings needs to be simpler, less prescriptive and less burdensome for laity and clergy. There needs to be more flexibility to reflect the wide diversity of local situations. 

Dioceses need to integrate thinking about their church buildings with their mission and ministry planning. Regular diocesan strategic reviews, taking account of diocesan and deanery plans, mission action plans and parish audits are important for ensuring that buildings issues are given their proper weight- neither dominating nor being overlooked or regarded as a specialist subject.

Parish churches and chapels of ease - These churches provide a traditional model of ministry and are comfortable doing so, which may include innovative complementary uses as set out in Part 3, with care for the building fabric possibly passed to Trusts where appropriate. Creating chapels-of-ease within larger parishes may remove the need for multiple PCCs.

Festival Churches – References have recently been made in the Church Buildings Review and elsewhere to ‘Festival Churches’. Under Canons B 11 (Of Morning and Evening Prayer in parish churches) and the first part of B 14 (Of Holy Communion in parish churches), each parish church is required to celebrate Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Holy Communion on every Sunday (and on feast days). Canon B 14A (Of services in churches and other places of worship) empowers the Bishop to dispense with this requirement. 

The Bishop, in doing so, must “ensure that no such church ceases altogether to be used for public worship”. Forthcoming changes to Canon B 14A mean that this can be expanded to a large number of churches, allowing them to have more freedom in organising services and other uses for the building as laid out in Part 3 as needed in that parish.  

Mission Churches - These are churches which are identified as having potential for growth and possible expansion beyond their parish, which may need to be supported or learned from. Some of these may be designated as Resource Churches, which have a special role which may go beyond the diocesan boundaries

Major / Greater Churches - Members of the Greater Churches Network and the broader group of Major Churches recently identified by the CBC may require a higher level of attention due to their special functions, significance and potential. The CBC has recommended that all churches in this group should as a minimum compile Conservation Management Plans, with which the CBC can usually help.  See ChurchCare for information on CMPs and the criteria for Major Churches.

If a church is not on the present CBC list, an application can be made to the CBC who will assess it against the criteria. If the church makes the list the CBC offers to visit the church and discuss possible ways forward.

Minsters - Although not clearly defined legally, the status of Minster can be conferred by the Bishop to allow a church building to adopt an extra- or super-parochial role beyond that of a parish church. This can be adapted to circumstances but should always be carefully considered within an overall diocesan mission plan.

New Churches - The population of the diocese is increasing and new homes are planned in existing towns and villages across the diocese. There may be occasions where a new church building should be considered.

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