Exeter Consistory Court; Calcutt Ch. July 1996
Petition by the Vicar and Churchwardens for authority to carry out the following works:
1. Repairs to Cast Iron Gates.
2. Provision of two new handrails for West entrance.
3. Repainting of Bell Frame Grillage.
4. Provision of Draught Screen in Tower Arch.
5. Provision of improved lighting in Ringing Chamber.
6. Quinquennial repairs (as set out).
The Petition had the unanimous support of the PCC, and the D AC recommended the works. Citation gave rise to one objector whose objection related simply to item 2, and to item 4. The parties agreed that the proceedings should be determined upon consideration of written representations instead of by hearing in Court. The Chancellor was satisfied that a Faculty should be granted in respect of items 1, 3, 5 and 6. The objections to item 2 were that it had not in the past been found necessary, that there was alternative access for people who felt the need to have the support of a handrail, and that the handrails would be aesthetically unacceptable, particularly having regard to the prominent position involved. The Chancellor took the view that handrails would make very little difference to the overall appearance of the West end of the Church: there would be a minimum visual impact, the design was sensible, sensitive and would not interfere in any significant way with the reading of any notices exhibited on the Notice Board. The work was not irreversible in any significant way and that if a future generation took the view that the handrails were unacceptable, there would be no reason why, with appropriate authority, they should not be removed. In the circumstances the Chancellor concluded that the Faculty to be granted should include item 2. The second disputed matter related to the provision of a Draught Screen in the Tower Arch. Photographs of the interior of the Church and drawings of what was proposed were considered by the Chancellor who was doubtful whether sufficient detailed consideration had yet been given to the work involved and its possible cost. In the Petitioners answer to the Particulars of Objection a response was made in the following terms: 'the proposed Tower Screen was one of a number of proposals approved by the PCC for inclusion in the Petition for Faculty. The recommendations from the Buildings Committee which were the subject of the PCC resolution stated 'that the proposed glazed Draught Screen in the Church Tower Arch be accepted in principle but work deferred until a later date.' The PCC did not wish to incur a further fee in connection with a separate Petition at a later date, but it did take note of its Treasurer's concerns especially as no estimate of costs was available for consideration. A deferment of this work was indeed sensible.' The objector made the point that for the matter to be handled in this way could prevent future regulatory scrutiny taking place at a later date. The Chancellor considered that the inclusion of this item in this Petition was premature and it would benefit from further careful and detailed consideration of all aspects involved (including costs), before any application was made (if so advised) for the grant of a Faculty in this respect. Accordingly the Faculty granted could not include item 4. The Chancellor fully understood the Petitioners wish to include as much work as possible in one Petition, and so save additional Court costs, and it may well be that this is work which could in due course be authorised; but for the moment it did appear to him that authorisation for this particular work was premature. (Summary provided by the Diocesan Registrar).
(1997) 4 Ecc LJ 687-688