Managing and Adapting Places of Worship

Managing Change

The Tasmanian Heritage Council has a number of publications to help understand the best approach to managing changes to liturgical practices and adapting churches for new uses.

Managing Historic Places of Worship: provides advice on the adaptation and disposal of places of worship by religious organisations as well as their adaptation for new uses.

Moveable Heritage: provides advice on managing those items that have special association and meaning for the congregation and community, as well as those that contribute to the place's historic cultural heritage significance.

Stained Glass Windows: provides advice on how to approach conservation works and repairs to stained glass windows.

Managing the Heritage Value of Cemeteries: provides advice on works to gravesites and burials as well as the basic principles for monument conservation.

Works Guidelines: provides suitable solutions to the most common works to places entered on the Heritage Register including maintenance, alteration and additions, signage and subdivision.


Decommissioning a Place of Worship

The Tasmanian Heritage Council recommends that a conservation management plan be developed before deconsecrating a place of worship or adapting it for a new purpose.

basic conservation management plan will help make good decisions for the future management and development of the place, and help facilitate a successful adaptive re-use in a way that protects the place’s historic cultural heritage significance including community attachments.  

Further information on conservation management plan is available on our website.

 

Purchasing a Place of Worship

If you are considering or have purchased a former place of worship and you are considering what you can do to it, the following answers to common questions may be helpful:

What can and can't I do?

Any works to a place entered on the Tasmanian Heritage Register requires approval from the Heritage Council. This may be through a certificate of exemption for minor works, or a permit for more complex work. The Heritage Council approves 99% of works applications.

 
Will I be able to subdivide, put on an addition or erect a new building at the place?

There have been former church properties where the Heritage Council has approved subdivisions, additions and new buildings, including residences and sheds. However, every case is assessed on its merits. For more detailed information read the WorkGuidelines sections on subdivisionsadditions and erecting a new building.

We recommend that you speak to one of our advisors once you have a conceptual design.

 
Can I replace rusted roof sheeting, spouting or rotted weatherboards?

In most circumstances, the Heritage Council would expect like-for-like replacement of original materials (e.g. replacing rotted weatherboards with new weatherboards). Like-for-like replacement of original materials is in most cases approved with a Certificate of Exemption. There is no application fees and your request will usually be processed within 7 days. For more detailed information read the WorkGuidelines sections on maintenance and repairs.

 
What obligations arise from having a cemetery at the place?

Approval is required for any work that affects features within the registered area, which is usually the title boundaries. This includes works to monuments, headstones, paths, fences, trees and topography.

The expectation is that the owner maintains the place to allow ongoing access by the community, and to respect the personal and community values attached to the cemetery.

The property owner is likely to also have obligations under the Burial and Cremations Act 2002 if there are burials within the title boundary.

 
Do we have to keep any of the furnishings in the church?

Moveable heritage items that contribute to the heritage significance of the place should not be removed from the place without Heritage Council approval.

If you have questions about specific item(s), please email us an image of the item(s) and any information that you have about it, and one of our advisors will respond to you.

General  information relating to moveable heritage may be found on pages 8 - 20 of Managing Historic Places of Worship

Our contact email is enquiries@heritage.tas.gov.au


Does Heritage Tasmania have a list of the place's significant moveable heritage items?

For most places Heritage Tasmania does not have a list of a place's significant moveable heritage items.

In general, the type of moveable items that are likely to contribute to the significance of a place are: pews, pulpit, baptismal font, collection plates or boxes, organ or harmonium (or other large instrument to accompany singing), lecterns, altar, altar rail(s), kneelers, memorial plaques or other wall fittings, tables and chairs, cupboards, vestments or other fabric items used in the worship services, as well as ewers and chalices or other small items used in the worship service. The items are generally only of significance to the place if they have been there for a long time.

General  information relating to moveable heritage may be found on pages 8 - 20 of Managing Historic Places of Worship

Our contact email is enquiries@heritage.tas.gov.au


Will Heritage Tasmania help us with preparing an inventory of moveable items?

We suggest that you check with the relevant church organisation to see if it has an  inventory. The responsibility for preparing an inventory rests with the property owner and will only be required by the Heritage Council in relation to moveable items that are proposed to be removed from the place.

General  information relating to moveable heritage may be found on pages 8 - 20 of Managing Historic Places of Worship.

Our contact email is enquiries@heritage.tas.gov.au

Will Heritage Tasmania prepare a conservation management plan (CMP)?

For most churches, a basic CMP is all that is required. The Heritage Council has a basic CMP template to complete. Engaging a suitably qualified cultural heritage practitioner is recommended. For names of heritage practitioners who may be able to assist you to prepare a CMP visit the  Heritage Services Directory

 

Will Heritage Tasmania come to the church to give advice?

Where possible, we provide advice over the telephone, by email, or in a meeting at one of our offices. If we have had no recent dealings with the place we may choose to do a site visit, particularly if there are complex issues relating to repair or adaptive re-use.

 
Is funding available for heritage places?

While owned by a denomination or a not-for-profit organisation, you may be eligible to apply for a grant from the Tasmanian Community Fund. Private owners may be eligible to apply to the Heritage Places Renewal Loan Scheme.



St Andrews Church, Evandale (THR#5019)

 

​The Value of Tasmania's Churches

Places of worship have long served as beacons of cultural, religious and community identity. 

Variously known as churches, chapels, tabernacles, gospel halls, synagogues, lodges, temples or mosques, places of worship reflect the faith, aspirations and investment of earlier generations. They are valued as places of religious practice and rites of passage, communal gathering, and as repositories of community memory. 

They also represent the skills of local builders, artisans and artists who contributed to their making. They showcase fine masonry, glorious stained glass, elegant metalwork, and joinery embellished with exquisite carving. Many of these buildings are the most creative outputs of Tasmanian architects, and a small number are built to plans conceived in England and made to fit the constraints of building sites on the opposite side of the world. For these reasons, places of worship have come to be recognized as an important part of our historic cultural heritage.



Additional Information

Guidelines for Change and Development of Heritage Places of Worship (Heritage Victoria)

Church Care (Church of England)

Helping Rural Churches and Communities Flourish (Arthur Rank Centre) - (Note: To quickly locate information on managing and adapting places of worship, (1) click on 'Menu'; (2) click on 'Resources'; (3) Type 'conservation' into the 'Search Resources' field; and click on 'GO'.

Crossing the Thresholds Toolkit (Diocese of Hereford)

Collections Care Manual (Western Australian Museum)

New Work in Historic Places of Worship, 2012 (Historic England)

Caring for Places of Worship, 2010 (Historic England)​



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