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Reordering

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The Faculty petition proposed a major reordering of a Grade II* church. The Victorian Society was a party opponent. The Chancellor approved the proposals generally, concluding that the benefits would outweigh any harm to the church. However, he was not prepared to approve the proposed red upholstered chairs. He therefore gave a stay of proceedings for 28 days, to allow for the petitioners to consider the judgment and put forward an alternative proposal for the chairs, which the Chancellor might find acceptable.

The faculty petition proposed a major reordering of the 13th century church, including removal of most of the pews and installation of a kitchen, which would support a proposed 'cafe hub'. The rationale for the proposals was to stem the decline of attendance at the church and encourage further church and community use, rather than risk closure. The Chancellor was satisfied that a good case had been made for the changes and granted a faculty for all but one item in the proposals.

An application had been made for a restoration order following the removal of four pews and replacement of some pew platform boards. Although an application had been made for an Archdeacon's Licence for temporary re-ordering, the work had been done before the Licence had been issued, and therefore before the conditions attached to the Licence were known. The pews had received some minor damage during the course of their removal. The Commissary General decided to make a restoration order in respect of the pews (but not the platform boards), but suspend it for an initial period of four months to give the PCC an opportunity of consulting the amenity societies and the Diocesan Advisory Committee and applying for a Faculty to authorise a permanent re-ordering.

The proposals were to replace the pews with upholstered chairs; new floor coverings; a servery; and a disabled access toilet and baby-changing area. Historic England did not favour the complete removal of the Victorian pews and had concerns about the choice of chair. The Deputy Chancellor granted a faculty for the items, providing that the stackable chairs to replace the pews in the north aisle should be Howe 40/4 unupholstered chairs, and the two back nave pews shoud be put into storage.

Major re-ordering was proposed. Objection by the Victorian Society in relation to the physical and spatial impact of the scheme as a whole. Faculty granted.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the removal of a number of short side aisle pews as, in applying the guidelines in Re St. Alkmund Duffield, he found that the petitioners had failed to provide a clear and convincing justification for the removal of the pews. He stated that if the PCC wished to remove the pews they should produce a more comprehensive plan for re-ordering the interior of the church. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the removal of a number of short side aisle pews as, in applying the guidelines in Re St. Alkmund Duffield, he found that the petitioners had failed to provide a clear and convincing justification for the removal of the pews. He stated that if the PCC wished to remove the pews they should produce a more comprehensive plan for re-ordering the interior of the church.

The Associate Rector and Churchwardens petitioned for the removal of the nave and aisle pews. The church has no associated church hall and was seeking to adapt its building for use for both community and church-based activities. Objections were received from two private individuals, and concerns were expressed by the Victorian Society, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Local Planning authority, all of whom suggested alternative proposals involving the retention of some pews. The Deputy Chancellor made it clear that it was not for the objectors to put forward alternative proposals, but for the Chancellor to decide whether a convincing case had been made out for the actual proposals in the petition. Faculty granted.

The petition sought approval for major re-ordering, including the replacement of the pews with chairs. Faculty granted. Applying the principles laid down in Re St. Alkmund, Duffield [2013] Fam 158, the Chancellor was satisfied that there was clear and convincing justification for carrying out the proposals.

The petitioners wished to construct a timber-framed, self-contained chapel, in the north aisle of the church, which could be heated economically, the replacement of the failed Victorian heating system being too costly. The Chancellor granted a faculty, being satisfied that the benefits would outweigh the harm to the special architectural and historic interest of the Grade I listed church. Also, the structure would not alter the fabric into which it was inserted and could be easily removed in the future.

The petitioners wished to remove seven rows of pews in the north aisle of the church and replace them with some existing upholstered chairs in storage, in order to allow a more flexible use of the space. The Victorian Society objected that the upholstered chairs were not suitable for the Grade I listed church. The Chancellor concluded that the introduction of the chairs would cause only moderate harm to the church, and that this harm would be outweighed by the resulting public benefit. He accordingly granted a faculty.