Adapting to different planning systems and requirements

St Mary's Church Llanfair Caereinion

The design and planning team at Hughes Architects have to deal with many different requirements when it comes to listed buildings and the planning system.

Recently, the architectural practice completed work ensuring a new oil-fired heating system being installed could be built and installed within a Grade II listed church in Powys, Mid Wales.

Church faculty system

Unlike most architectural projects, the planning application had to be made through The Church of Wales Faculty System. This means any design, build or alterations are considered by the church diocese’s Faculty rather than a local authority planning department.

The heating system at St Mary’s Church in Llanfair Caereinion had stopped working and a replacement was needed. However, as the building is Grade II listed, the layout and location of the system, including a new boiler and oil tank, would have to be carefully thought out.

Richard Lewis, an architect and director at the Mid Wales-based building design practice explains: “Any project involving a listed building can be fraught with complex issues and considerations. With a church such as St Mary’s you have an amazing architectural structure that mustn’t be detracted from in terms of adaptations or alterations.

“While the heating system doesn’t make a significant architectural impact on the church or the surrounding grounds, careful thought still has to go into how it’s integrated into the footprint and fabric of the building.”

Richard worked with Hughes Architects Architectural Technician, Nick Burnside, on the project along with Steve Morgan of Welshpool-based Morgans Plumbing and Heating.

Working with a local contractor

The planning submission was made to the Church of Wales Faculty. The Faculty system enables the Church in Wales to be exempt from the need to apply for Listed Building Consent in certain circumstances, known as Ecclesiastical Exemption.

The system means such alterations are considered by expert advisors and external consultation. The Faculty considers the evidence and supporting documentation from the architect and builder involved before making a decision. This is similar to how a planning department would consider it.

For a Full Faculty, which is a major alteration or building works, it goes to consultation with the Diocesan Advisory Committee, observations from local people and statutory consultees such as Cadw, planning authorities and others.

Application successful and work completed

The application passed and the new heating system has now been commissioned and will be operational for when parishioners can return to the church for services.

If you’d like to know more about our building design, planning and architectural services, call 01686 610311 or email

Caption: Photo of St Mary’s Church by John Firth, Creative Commons Licence (Geograph)

St Mary's Church Llanfair Caereinion St Mary's Church Llanfair Caereinion St Mary's Church Llanfair Caereinion