If your church has a balcony or gallery then it is advisable to arrange for it to be risk assessed and compliant with legislation.

This will assist the church in demonstrating that it has taken appropriate measures to ensure that the duty of care it owes to its employees and others has been considered.

Building regulations

Some building regulations have recently changed creating a difference in requirements between England and Wales. It is advisable to check with your local planning authority if you are in doubt as to your position.

Under building regulations barriers for balconies must stipulate a height of 1.2 metres, however if you have an older balcony then it may be much lower than this. If the barrier on your balcony is below 1 metre this is likely to constitute a potential danger, as for most people this would be below waist height.


Risk assessments are advisable to establish what measures can be taken to reduce this risk. It may be that a suitable barrier could be installed, or an adequate guard rail fitted. The guard rail should be compliant with BS6180:1999 and therefore be of a height of at least 1 metre (1.2 metre where it crosses steps or other raise sections) and fitted with intermediate spacing bars (if required) which are such a distance apart that they do not allow a 100mm sphere to be able to be passed between them. 

This is to prevent children being held fast by the guarding itself. More information can be found in the government approved document K, protection from falling, collision and impact. 

If a heightened barrier cannot be installed because of listed building regulations, measures that mitigate any risk should be considered. These measures should be considered in your risk assessment and may include:

  • the front row of the balcony or gallery being restricted for use;
  • children being prevented from entering the balcony area;
  • the balcony being stewarded.

For more information please see: