HL Deb 18 December 1972 vol 337 cc938-9WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, when a church is transferred to private ownership, it remains an ecclesiastical building or whether ipso facto it becomes a secular building and is automatically and regularly inspected by the Ancient Monuments Commission.


A church which is transferred to Private ownership and no longer used for worship, becomes a secular building and if listed under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 as a building of special architectural or historic interest, would become subject to control as a listed building. Listed building consent would then be necessary before it could be demolished or altered or extended in any way affecting its special architectural or historic interest. There are no arrangements for the regular inspection of listed buildings although there are rights of entry to ascertain whether an offence has been committed or whether the building is being maintained in a proper state of repair. Broadly similar provisions would apply if a church, having ceased to be in ecclesiastical use, was unoccupied and scheduled as an ancient monument. However, parish churches in use for worship, whether listed or not, are inspected quin-quennially under the auspices of the diocesan authorities.