Department for Culture Media and Sport

places of worship

We are responsible for managing the Government’s interests in historic places of worship.

This covers four main areas:

The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT)

We sponsor, in partnership with the Church of England, CCT which maintains and repairs over 340 churches of architectural, historical or archaeological importance which are no longer needed for regular worship. For further information please visit The Churches Conservation Trust website.

Listed Places of Worship (LPW) Grant Scheme

The LPW Grant Scheme currently makes grants towards the VAT incurred in making repairs to listed buildings in the UK which are primarily in use for public worship.

From 1 October 2012, the scheme will be extended to offset the financial impact of the VAT change on listed places of worship undertaking alteration works. Some other small changes will also be made to the scheme.

The Government will provide additional funding of up to £30 million a year for the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme for the duration of this Parliament.

Read a summary of the changes to be made to the scheme

For further information on how to make a claim please visit the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme website, or call 0845 601 5945.

Ecclesiastical Exemption

Church buildings of certain denominations are exempt from local authority listed building and conservation area controls, on account of systems of control within the denominations which are accepted as providing equivalent protection for buildings.

This applies to six denominations in England and Wales:

  • the Church of England
  • the Church in Wales
  • the Roman Catholic Church
  • the Methodist Church
  • the United Reformed Church
  • the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the Baptist Union in Wales

Additionally, listed Church of Scotland churches situated in England are exempt.

Denominational systems of control must meet the requirements of our code of practice, which is an annex to our guidance on the exemption. The current Ecclesiastical Exemption Order should be considered alongside the later amendment order.

A consultation on changes to the Ecclesiatical Exemption was carried out in 2010. As a result, changes were made to the Ecclesiastical Exemption Order, which provided that, except in a few special cases,, buildings are only exempt where they are covered by a denominational system of control. This means that shared churches which are listed buildings, and listed chapels forming part of institutions such as schools, colleges, universities, prisons and hospitals are only exempt where they have opted to be covered by a denominational system of control. If no such election has been made, local authority listed building controls apply.

Additionally, separately listed curtilage structures of exempt listed places of worship (for example, a listed church hall or monument) are now also exempt from local authority listed buildings controls where they are covered by a denominational system of control, and where they constitute ecclesiastical buildings for the time being in use for ecclesiastical purposes.

Churches and Faith Buildings: Realising the Potential

The Department, along with the Treasury, Communities and Local Government, Defra, the Office of the Third Sector in Cabinet Office and the Church of England published ‘Churches and Faith Buildings; Realising the Potential’, which celebrated the contribution made to communities by faith groups and their buildings, and explored the funds available to make buildings fit for purpose in delivering services in communities.