Diocese surveyor retires after 12 years of looking after homes of priests and curates in Lancashire

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It is a huge responsibility, looking after the homes of priests, curates and The Church of England’s land in Lancashire.

Just retired Diocesan Surveyor for The Church of England in Lancashire, John Sunter, has been in the job since 2007 and it has been a responsibility he has relished.

The property team John led, part of the wider Enablers Team at the Diocesan Offices near Blackburn, has a reputation for being one of the best in The Church of England.

The property team John has headed up principally serve the clergy of the Diocese and over the years John has become a very familiar face; calling on scores of clergy across the county as he has helped to ensure their homes are well-maintained.

“I imagined at first the job would include looking after churches, but the responsibilities extended only to properties that are neither places of worship or church halls: the vicarages and the land that the church in Lancashire owns,” said John.

“I was also expecting to be managing a process of decline – with pressure from falling church membership, I thought the church would need less buildings.

“While land and property has been sold over the years and most of the large, Victorian vicarages in our Diocese are now long gone, these have been replaced by the purchase or building of more modern homes fit for purpose and for clergy families.

“And now, with our Diocesan Vision 2026 Healthy Churches Transforming Communities, our wider narrative is about growth in the church, not decline.”

There are around 200 vicarages and 50 other houses for which John was responsible. About 50 quinquennial reports on these properties are prepared each year; and then there is a process of collating the results and arranging for work to be carried out to implement the recommendations of those reports.

John added: “I have really enjoyed my time at the Diocese and working with my fantastic colleagues Sharon and Steph. I wish my successor Michael much success and hope he has found a strong foundation and existing structures on which to further build for the future.”